Something To Fight About: Couples Who Fight The Most, Love Each Other Most

by Lauren Martin

If you love me, fight with me. If you love me, yell with me. Scream and shout with me to show me you care. Stomp; run; wail, but stand your ground. Shake with me and cry with me. Become exhausted, annoyed and utterly fed up with me. Dance with me in this maddening tango of love and pain.

Slam doors, punch walls and throw dishes. Call me on the phone in a fit of rage. Send text messages of your disdain. Wake me up in the middle of the night because you refuse to let it go until morning.

Keep me up till dawn, talking, yelling, then listening. Make the neighbors complain, and the dogs howl. Just show me you love me; show me you care.

Show me that you're willing to stick it out, even when you want to leave. Show me that you're going to make an effort and fight through the pain and past the hurt. Because as crazy and ridiculous as it seems, fighting means you love me.

Unfortunately for all of those next to the loud couple who fights more than they talk, they probably won't be breaking up anytime soon. In fact, their fighting isn't a sign of a sick relationship, but a healthy one.

According to Dr. John M. Gottman of the Gottman Institute, fighting isn't a sign of a weak relationship, but a strong one… depending on how you're fighting.

There are three basic styles, according to Gottman:

1. Those who want to sit down, compromise, and get back to being comfortable with each other

2. Those who want to be heard immediately and have the other person agree with them

3. Those who have no interest in dealing with problems

The first approach, while described rationally, doesn't always include sitting down. It can encompass fits of rage, screaming into reddening faces and stomping into corners of rooms. It does, however, usually end in compromise and peace.

As we've all learned from a good fight, while getting through it may be difficult and painful, the result always ends in a stronger relationship.

The second approach is just the sign of a partner who doesn't want to work it out or even listen. This is someone who doesn't deserve your time and isn't fighting in a productive and beneficial way. This partner isn't really interested in fighting, more so yelling.

The third is the deadliest approach to relationships: not fighting. To the outside observer, it would seem like the couple who never fights is the happiest. In fact, it's the opposite. It's the couple who cares enough to fight -- to not walk away, and to battle it out -- who holds the stronger, more loving relationship.

It's easy to walk away when things get tough, but it's a sign of true love to be willing to withstand the pain and discomfort of working through a good fight.

Fighting means you care

Fighting means you care enough to deal with the hurt and anger, rather than just walk away. It means actively pursuing a solution, a breakthrough that will make you stronger.

No two people are going to agree on everything, and fighting just means you've hit a point in your journey together that needs special attention and communication.

Relationship therapist Dana Ward explains, "Fighting is normal. While some couples may think fighting is the sign of a bad relationship, it is actually is very important. The key is fighting with a purpose.”

It's the whole idea of “fight or flight.” The way species adapt and evolve is based on the psychological reactions that occur when a threat is perceived. You either stand your ground or flee the situation. Either way, you're making a decision, one that questions whether the threat is worth attacking or running.

The couples most in love are willing to push aside those subconscious (and conscious) desires to flee, in favor of sticking it out and fighting for one another.

Fighting means keeping each other healthy... and sane

Gautama Buddha once wisely cautioned, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

According to findings published in “Psychosomatic Medicine,” Buddha's logic wasn't just profound, but also scientifically sound.

Based on a 10-year study of 4,000 men and women in Framingham, Massachusetts, women, specifically, who hold onto anger or unresolved feelings during a fight are four times more at risk of dying than women who can express themselves.

CNN published the findings of another study by Ernest Harburg, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan. The study followed 192 married couples from 1971 to 1988 and found that those who harbored their anger during a fight or when unjustly attacked did not live as long or as healthy as the couples who fought and resolved their issues fairly.

The stress you feel from holding on to anger is real. The health risks of that stress are also very real. If you love your partner, care about your partner's health and want to see him or her happy, then fight for your relationship.

Fighting means being honest

Only during a good fight can you let go of your inhibitions and understand how you and your partner really feel.

According to Pamela Paul, author of “The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony,” compatibility of personality traits, such as beliefs and core values, comes out during a good fight. It's when you're heated, not holding back or restraining yourself, that you finally let the other person see how you really think and feel.

These outbursts of truth can only come from a good, heated discussion. Without these fights, people would be getting married and having children without knowing the true feelings and innermost desires of their partners.

In order to face the important and pressing issues that can destroy a marriage, a couple has to be completely honest and open with themselves and the values they hold most important. If these values aren't tested until a fight occurs, then there's no way to know what's really worth fighting for.

*Fighting means better sex

Was it the fight before the sex, or the sex before the fight?

We're not sure which came first, but we've all experienced the make-up sex that comes after a good fight. Tensions are high; blood is boiling, and there's no better way to break the tension than with a good ol' fashioned wrestling match.

While we haven't yet found much evidence to prove this theory, there isn't much disproving it. We're not suggesting you go home and pick a fight tonight; we are saying that if you are going to fight, just look at the make-up sex as the consolation prize. Maybe now it won't be such a big deal who wins.