Healthy Arguments in a Relationship: Handling Conflict As A Couple
Fact: couples argue. Although we would all like to think that the perfect couple never argues, it is simply not true. We are creatures of habit and we think our way to do things is the best way. When you are in a relationship, our way cannot be the only way to do things. You must make compromises with your partner in order to maintain a healthy relationship. If a couple has an argument, compromise should be a main component. Arguments can be extremely useful in a relationship. When the argument becomes a fight, there is an issue. But, wait! Aren’t an argument and a fight synonymous? Although we use the words interchangeably, there is a big distinction between the two.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “to argue” as: “to disagree esp. strongly and sometimes angrily in talking or discussing something : to give reasons for your opinion about the truth of something or to explain why you believe something should be done”
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “to fight” as: “to use physical force to try to defeat another person or group of people”
Both definitions given to “to argue” are discussions. Although partners may be angry at each other, they simply talk things out by expressing their thoughts and feelings. On the contrary, “to fight” is the use of physical force to win.
Examples of fighting behaviors can include:
- Lack of support
- Dictating the dialogue
When you are in a relationship, there are two people with two sets of feelings, two sets of thoughts, and two sets of rationalizations. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship if partners are constantly trying to beat each other, especially through the use of physical force. In the end, there cannot be a winner. Relationships should not be about winning; they should be about working together. A relationship consists of partners. By definition, partners work together; if a relationship consists of partners, they should always try to work together, otherwise they would be called something else.
If you and your partner exhibit any fighting behaviors, working with one of our couples counselors at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando can help you turn fighting behaviors into a healthy argument. Our couples counselors utilize The Gottman Method, an evidence-based method, that works with couples to improve their relationship.
Although the idea of a “healthy argument” may seem ironic to most, arguments can be a very important part of a relationship if the right tools are used. Healthy arguments support the relationship’s growth.
Characteristics of healthy arguments include:
- Embracing conflict
- Focusing on the issue at hand
- Listening respectfully and with an open mind
- Talking softly
- Being curious (about why your partner feels a certain way), not defensive
- Asking for specific examples
- Finding agreements
- Making compromises
- Never going to sleep angry with each other
Having a healthy argument when a problem arises can be beneficial to the relationship. Each partner has the opportunity to express his/her feelings without fear of being judged or ignored. Unfortunately, using these tools is much easier said than done. If you and your partner are having a hard time using healthy argument tools, seeing a couples counselor at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando can also be extremely helpful. Our counselors are trained in and utilize evidence-based couples counseling methods. They are trained in the most recent evidence-based methods, researched by Dr. John Gottman, a renowned couples researcher. With the help of one of our counselors and their use of effective methodology, you and your partner can improve your relationship through practicing healthy arguments.