No couple is perfect. Every couple argues. Whether you have different communication styles, attachment issues, or just disagree on different subjects, arguing in a relationship is normal. It can also be healthy and even end up strengthening your relationship. But that’s only if you know how to argue effectively.
If you’re fighting all the time and can’t seem to agree on anything, you might wonder how many fights are too many. It’s important to be able to measure healthy conflict in your relationship. Doing so will make your “fights” more effective. So much so that they will cause your relationship to grow and become stronger, rather than breaking it down. In Imago Relationship Therapy we say “conflict is growth trying to happen”.
Let’s dig into what healthy conflict in a relationship looks like and how you can argue with your partner in ways that might end up bringing you closer.
What Does Healthy Conflict Look Like?
You don’t have to agree on everything in your relationship for things to work out. Healthy conflict can help you both to grow as individuals and as a couple. But what is healthy conflict? It’s based on mutual respect and a willingness to see the other person’s point of view. Far too often, couples argue and don’t show each other respect or trust. You can disagree on things and work through your differences in healthy ways by maintaining respect. Remember that you and your partner are on the same team. You have the same goals, even if you have different ideas about reaching them.
How to Argue Effectively
So, what can you do to make your arguments strengthen your relationship rather than harm it? Part of effective arguing is staying on the topic at hand. Bringing up other issues isn’t going to get you anywhere and will end up causing more harm than good.
Practice deep listening, no matter how difficult it might seem. Deep listening is about more than just hearing what your partner says. It requires acknowledging their feelings and letting them know you understand their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Be patient and by staying calm. When you’re both heated, you’re more likely to say things you will end up regretting later or things you don’t really mean. When you do speak, use “I” statements and explain to your partner how you feel without being accusatory.
One of the most important things you can do when there’s conflict in your relationship is to reach a resolution. You’re not always going to agree on things. Sometimes, you’ll have to compromise. Other times, you’ll have to “agree to disagree.”
Be willing to apologize when you’re in the wrong. It might require swallowing your pride, but if it’s the right thing to do, it’s often the best way to end an argument. It’s okay to expect your partner to do the same when they’re in the wrong. Sometimes, however, neither of you will be inherently “wrong,” and often there are old wounds that are being triggered. Taking the time to explore what more may be driving your frustrations can lead to deeper understanding and even feelings of empathy toward each other.
If you’re worried about fighting too often in your relationship, take a look at how you fight, rather than how much. Are you having healthy conflicts or damaging arguments? Feel free to contact Darleen for more information about what healthy conflict looks like and how you can ensure your arguments are healthy, not harmful.