No one likes to fight.
Arguments can teach us much about ourselves: how we behave in a relationship.
Tension, anger, and hurt feelings aren’t often the ingredients to a nurturing and happy relationship.
Couples who claim to never fight are likely avoiding conflict at all costs by suppressing their true thoughts and emotions.
Avoiding conflict to this extreme can be just as unhealthy as constantly engaging in it.
Some amount of fighting and disagreement is normal in a relationship and – if done properly – is actually healthy for the relationship.
Here are some reasons that fighting can actually be good for your relationship:
You Learn About Yourself
We rarely fight for the reasons that we say we do.
When we’re upset about the toilet seat being left up again, what we are really angry about maybe that our partner doesn’t respect our request for cleanliness, or that we are having a hard time adjusting to sharing a space with a new partner.
Many arguments are about deeper issues.
Therefore, arguments can teach us much about ourselves: how we behave in a relationship, what our larger needs are, what issues we still need to resolve.
Arguments can also teach us much about our partners.
When tempers flare, all social etiquette is discarded, and we are able to see the “real” person underneath.
You Learn to Voice Your Needs
Maybe you’ve met someone who is so perfectly matched to you that you never feel wanting for anything.
This person always knows the right things to say, always makes you feel supported in the ways that you need, and always understands exactly what you need to feel happy and engaged. Or maybe you’re like the rest of us, and your partner is a real person with flaws who has his or her own needs and desires that may not match up with yours.
In that case, you’re going to need to speak up for yourself.
Arguing teaches you how to respectfully fight for the things you need instead of avoiding conflict.
Sure, you can have discussions about your needs and desires, but sometimes conflict is unavoidable.
For example, if you need to hear “I love you” frequently” to feel romance and love, that probably won’t make it to the level of a fight.
But if you want your mother to move in with you because you need to feel like a provider for your family, that might become a bigger issue.
Avoiding arguments would lead you to avoid discussing these needs.
You Learn How to Resolve Problems
Couples who are afraid of conflict will often let real issues linger and fester, never properly resolving them.
Maybe it really upsets you that your partner plays video games while you clean up the dishes after dinner each night. Or maybe you feel angry when your partner makes plans for you both without asking you first.
If you never discuss these issues for fear of getting into an argument, they will continue to be problems and continue to bother you. Small issues are likely to grow into bigger issues when they are left unresolved.
At the point that you actually do discuss the issue, it is much more likely to blow up into a big fight.
Addressing problems, and then dealing with conflict if it arises, teaches you how to resolve issues so that they don’t linger and become bigger.
You Learn to Fight Fair
Part of the reason fights are so hard to bear is that many people don’t fight fair.
Calling names, bringing up past issues, talking about unrelated problems, criticizing, or insulting other family and friends are just some of the ways that couples can fight dirty. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to resort to any of these tactics.
When couples avoid arguments, they often let hurt feelings linger and become worse, so that when they do fight, the argument is overblown and these dirty tactics appear.
Accepting arguments as a healthy part of a relationship can help you learn how to engage in them and to understand how to fight fair.
It Shows that You’re Invested
Fighting is a sign that you care.
Let’s be clear: Unhealthy fighting that involves hitting, name-calling, or other abusive behavior is never a sign of “caring.”
However, healthy arguments and disagreements show that you are invested in the relationship.
If you weren’t, then nothing your partner did would bother you. When you’re invested in the long-term success of your relationship, you aren’t giving up your needs for someone else’s and you aren’t bottling up or ignoring your feelings.
Excessive arguing or fighting that involves abusive behavior is never healthy.
However, avoiding arguments and disagreements altogether can be equally harmful. Learning how to have healthy arguments can strengthen your relationship by teaching you more about yourself and your partner and by allowing you to resolve problems in the relationship.
What About Your Relationship?
How much fighting do you think is too much?
What are your definitions of dirty fights?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments!