There is a common saying that arguments are healthy for a relationship but I personally think that, what it really means is that communication is essential. As for the actual arguments, there is unfortunately no straight-forward answer because it basically depends on a lot of things… And there are many variables.
First, we need to look at the two personalities in the relationship. Some people thrive on arguments and actually need them for the relationship to work, whilst others find them unsettling. So, if you have a combination of both, it makes it all the more complicated and difficult to handle as you are literally coming from two different angles. But to be honest, that does not make it impossible and once you get to know someone and how they react, you can probably live with it. What is really important is the content of the argument.
And before we go any further, we really need to understand why arguments occur in the first place and to be blunt, arguments don’t need to happen if you are communicating properly with one another. Unfortunately, that’s a very common and real issue.
There are two main types of arguments: the one-off and the recurring. The one-offs are rarely a real problem (unless you have one-offs about different things all the time) and they normally happen either because someone ‘explodes’ or because of bottling up and not saying what we want or how we feel. In this particular case, it is a positive that the issue is exposed and spoken about because it can actually be put to bed (no pun intended…).
The recurring arguments are more of a problem. If you are continually arguing about the same thing, and it’s not being resolved, that’s when you need to properly look at the underlying reason behind the ‘argument’ as it is rarely what the real problem is. It often stems from the way someone feels and their perception of the problem as opposed to the problem itself. Regular, constant arguing is not good nor healthy for a relationship because it can chip away at it and be quite draining.
The main points to look at are:
- What sort of language is used? For instance, is it critical, defensive, nasty, cheap shots…
- Who starts the arguments? Is it always the same person?
- How often do you argue?
- Is there a pattern or obvious trigger?
- Do you play a particular ‘role’?
- How is it sorted? Or isn’t it?
- How are you both left to feel?
That last point is extremely important, as it can lead to yet more anger and resentment, as well as a feeling of unworthiness and disrespect. The downward spiral starts when we don’t feel heard or valued.
So what can you do about it?
The first thing is to actually spend a bit of time, by yourself, to reflect on what the arguments are about and whether they really are important or not. There is always a solution (although we may not like what that is…) but sometimes, we just can’t see it in the heat of the moment. Planning to have an adult and mature conversation about the problem will always help but it needs to be constructive and not about regurgitating what has already been said a million times. What outcome do you want? What outcome do they want? Do you actually know what you want? How can you both make it happen? Remember that both parties need to take responsibility to make a relationship work.
Finally, be aware of wanting to be right… Just because you have taken years to reach certain conclusions and opinions only means that they are true to you. The other person will have taken just as long to reach potentially different conclusions and opinions, and both sets of beliefs should be respected for what they are. If your views, values and ethics are so drastically different, then you should question whether you have chosen the right partner anyway… But a lot of people just want to be right and that comes in the way of their happiness, always. So which do you choose, being right or being happy?
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