All relationships have their highs and lows. One day you have all the lovely moments, and the next, you’re both arguing like there’s no tomorrow.
Well, we’re here to tell you that, as bizarre as this may sound, this scenario happens quite frequently in most relationships and that it’s normal to argue with your partner sometimes.
Disagreements and fights are bound to happen in any relationship, romantic or not. So when does the fighting or arguing turn into an issue? And how often do couples fight in a healthy relationship? We’ll tell you this through our article. Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
While there is no definite number of times that fighting in a relationship is considered unhealthy, there may be a few things other than the frequency that must be kept in mind.
Once the honeymoon phase of a relationship is over, all couples tend to start arguing, and we’re here to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with that. We all want our relationships to be healthy, but let’s be honest, it’s no walk in the park.
It seems easy to share positive experiences, but when negative ones show up, we get concerned about our relationship. What you need to keep in mind during times like these is the question, ‘Do the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones?’
What the two of you, i.e., you and your partner, seem to argue about also plays a trivial role in considering how healthy an argument or fight is. It is also of essence to note what the conflict leads to and how it ends.
The frequency of the fighting or argument considered unhealthy may differ for every person. How often is “too often?”
This would depend on the individual perspective, and those who are part of the relationship determine it for themselves.
As unpleasant as fights or arguments might seem, it is of essence to note that these are often what help ease the communication barriers between partners. They seem to get to a shared understanding and find a solution together if the fight turns out to be productive.
A productive argument/fight may consist of open expression and a fruitful solution that both parties may have come to after careful consideration.
Four Behaviors to avoid when in an argument with your partner
There are four behaviors any individual must avoid when they get into a fight with their partner. These are:
Stonewalling is when one partner or both put up emotional walls that become tough for the other party to climb. Stonewalling may take the form of avoiding conflict or shutting down your partner, which can be very harmful to the relationship in the long run.
Showing contempt simply means not respecting your partner or considering yourself superior to them. This proves exceptionally toxic when employed in arguments or fights, leading to a negative impact on the relationship.
Defensiveness is failing to take responsibility for your actions/behaviors that your partner says is an issue for them in the relationship. The opposite of this would be accepting your mistakes in a relationship and having the ability to say, “I’m sorry,” when you have hurt your partner in any way.
Instead of focusing on finding the solution in a fight, when partners start to focus more on attacking and pointing out the other person’s behavior in a rude manner, the behavior is called Criticizing.
Criticism can be positive or negative depending on how the person puts it forward and how it is interpreted by the other.
Other factors that indicate unhealthy arguments could be the type of argument styles that the partners seem to have. Partners with different argument styles often find difficulty in letting the fight come to a productive end.
For instance, if both partners have the same argument styles, such as conflict-avoidant, they are more likely to come to terms with a solution. Differently, this may not happen when one partner’s arguing style is conflict-avoidant and the second partner’s arguing style is emotional or passionate.
Attachment stress, in simpler words, could mean a strained emotional relationship between the partners.
Emotional bonds are strained when one individual feels like they cannot reach out to the other to seek comfort or reassurance in any form. When couples are faced with these situations, they tend to feel frustrated or irritated because of the communication barrier or wall that has been put up between them. Every action of your partner seems to be a trigger for a fight in cases like these.
These connection issues may take the form of surface-level issues like fighting over tiny things. These little things can even include one partner not doing the laundry or not calling the other partner to let them know they’ll be back home late.
One partner then becomes the Pursuing Partner, making an effort to reconnect and desires closeness. This partner then tends to complain or become emotionally reactive to pursue the closeness of the other.
The other partner, also known as the Withdrawer, will then pull back to avoid conflict. While it is well-intentioned, this behavior of the Withdrawer elevates the feeling of disconnection among the two partners, thus reinforcing the emotional and critical behavior of the Pursuing Partner.
This cycle can turn into a pretty toxic one if not handled in time. Each partner seems to react to the other’s behavior. We all tend to look to our partners to seek connection and comfort, and when this doesn’t happen, we try to reestablish closeness, even more, leading to more harmful behaviors in the relationship. Some couples may even get stuck in these toxic loops until the emotional bond is finally restored.
It is also essential to note that couples who don’t fight at all may not be necessarily happy; they just may be avoiding conflict. This may also mean that they have too much distance from each other or that they’re simply burnt out from trying to solve disputes.
The key in situations like these is to make sure your partner feels heard and loved, leading to a deeper connection and bond.
What is the difference between a healthy and toxic argument/fight?
Experts often say that to understand how healthy an argument is, one needs to consider factors other than just the frequency of arguments. Two of these factors are the intensity and the level of the fighting.
1. What Vs. How Often
The quality of the argument (what it is about) is a far better indicator of how often arguing is considered healthy. This will primarily entail its level and intensity, while quantity would comprise how often both partners tend to get into arguments with each other.
The tone and words spoken are all critical in considering the quality of fighting. These speak a lot more about how healthy or unhealthy the argument was.
Healthy arguments are often fair, acknowledged by both partners, and end on a productive note. The motive of these kinds of arguments is not to fight or win an argument; it is to find a solution to what the two of you are arguing about.
On the other hand, unhealthy arguments leave one person feeling inferior or like they’ve lost the argument after it ends.
2. Us Vs. The problem approach
A healthy argument is where one partner speaks about their concerns in the relationship, and the other partner respectfully listens to them.
As necessary it is to speak our minds, it is also crucial for the other person to listen to it. One must realize and respect each other’s points of view while in a relationship.
Arguing to talk is one thing and arguing to find a solution is another. If an argument between you and your partner ends in resolving the issue together, know that the argument was a productive one. It will only work towards making your relationship stronger.
3. Respecting differences
Question: When the two of you argue, do you give the other person the space to talk while you listen? Do the two of you make sure to respect the other’s opinion, even if it may be different than your own?
Now might be an excellent time to evaluate these differences and your reaction to them. Being respectful also consists of not calling each other names and keeping your calm even in the heat of the moment.
4. Viewing fighting as an opportunity to grow
The perspective you have about every argument or fight is something to be kept in mind. According to experts, fighting can strengthen your relationship if you look at it as an opportunity to communicate and grow.
Arguing can open the gates of communication if done correctly. In a survey study, it was found that couples that argue often are more likely to stay together. This is because they communicate more openly and grow together in the relationship. Changing your perspective can help significantly in all kinds of situations, especially romantic ones.
5. Respect Boundaries
Respecting boundaries in a relationship can help set realistic expectations. If you’re aware of your partner’s physical/emotional triggers, make sure you respect them and don’t bring them up when you’re both fighting.
Knowing where to draw the line is an essential part of all relationships. Setting healthy boundaries to maintain individuality in a relationship goes a long way in strengthening communication and making disagreements healthy.
The level of comfort that you share with your partner makes sure you both feel safe while engaging in a productive argument. Both partners must have the ability to recognize their faults and mistakes and be able to say ‘sorry’ when deemed necessary. They must feel free to be themselves and state their opinions even while fighting.
Humor helps make any situation better. At times, one partner or both may employ humor to deflect, making the argument too serious or disrespectful for the other.
So when does it become unhealthy?
If the frequency does not matter much, how is one supposed to know how much fighting between a couple is considered healthy? When should you start getting concerned? Here’s when:
When an argument takes the form of imposition of control over one partner by the other, it turns unhealthy.
Both parties must be equally involved or at least actively state their opinions in the fight while at the same time listening to the other person for it to be considered healthy. It is considered unhealthy if one person is only complaining/ talking at all times.
9. Physical Abuse
When physical force is applied during an argument, it is an enormous red flag, and precisely, one that you cannot ignore.
Any form of physical force such as pushing, hitting, or throwing things is unhealthy in itself and as part of any argument. It turns toxic when any kind of physical pressure is involved.
When you start sensing disrespect in the argument, it may signify danger. Even when one is angry, one must be able to speak with respect and address their issues patiently in a fight.
Disrespect is often not tolerated by many people in relationships as they believe it may turn into an issue with setting and maintaining boundaries moving forward in the relationship.
11. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse must never go unnoticed. If you and your partner get into a fight and it turns abusive in any form, sexual, physical, or even mental, it may be best to walk away.
While mental abuse is more brutal to realize when one is undergoing it, the signs of mental abuse such as gaslighting or talking down on one partner by the other must not be ignored or taken lightly.
If you feel like you have to ‘walk on eggshells’ during a fight, even when speaking about the issues you’re facing in the relationship, this might be a sign of the fight being unhealthy.
Please note that taking precautions not to trigger the other person’s insecurity is normal. What is not normal is feeling like you cannot speak your mind before your partner because they might react badly to it.
In such cases, it’s better to break up as it is not always bad to split.
The feeling of being dependent on one partner may stop the other partner from openly expressing their views. When one seems to be overly reliant on their partner, they might feel like they are obliged to listen to whatever their partner has to say or do.
This stops them from being their own person.
Arguing upon occasion is normal and healthy in relationships.
According to Niki Davis- Fainbloom, relationship and sexuality expert, couples who never openly disagree or fight do so because they don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings or emotions fully.
She also says, “Making decisions with another person takes work and it is highly unlikely that two people will always agree on decisions about boundaries, relationships, politics and sometimes simply what to eat for dinner and when to leave social engagements.”
Occasional arguing is customary and even healthy to a certain extent. Therefore, what happens after the argument is over speaks more about whether a relationship is healthy or toxic.
In most healthy relationships, couples tend to argue and fight but then seem to move on and openly express their feelings of love and affection towards each other.
No One Answer
By saying all of this, what we mean is that there isn’t one answer about how often couples fight when they’re in a healthy relationship. How long the partners tend to ‘hold the grudge’ speaks more about how long the argument will go on and how healthy or toxic it is.
It doesn’t matter if they argue every day; healthy couples don’t hold on to the arguments and what was said during the fight. However, if you and your partner just cannot seem to let an argument go and you’re constantly
arguing, this could be viewed as a major sign of an unhealthy relationship.
When your partner seems to employ humor to deflate arguments, you may be fighting one minute and smiling the next. In cases like these, how often you argue cannot be seen as a determining factor in how unhealthy or healthy your relationship is.
The truth is there is no definite rule as to how much fighting in a relationship is considered healthy. What’s more important is what follows the argument. If you and your partner are willing to make amends, you’ll learn more about each other.
Arguments can be healthy or unhealthy depending upon the partners’ perspective and how open their lines of communication are. According to statistics, couples who argue effectively are ten times more likely to have a happy relationship than those who avoid addressing conflict.
And remember, not all fighting is harmful to the relationship.