4 Fights Every Couple Has To Get Through, Because They'll Actually Bring You Closer
The other day, my partner and I had the biggest fight we've had in a really long time. Things got heated and tense, and there may have been a few tears. You see, I wanted to use his PlayStation Network account, but I didn't like his avatar and he was very offended. Boom, it's fight time. Yep, that's the petty stuff we fight about now because we've had all the usual (and important) fights every couple has early on. We've got the big stuff worked out, and we've learned how to fight constructively, so despite the pettiness of the argument, we managed to relatively quickly kiss, make up, and laugh about it. Which is something we couldn't have done if we hadn't had those big, ahem, discussions (OK, they were fights) early on!
Ask any couple what they fight about, and there will probably be a handful of topics they all have in common. There are natural points of friction in relationships that can get heated, but, once resolved, actually do make couples grow closer. In fact, as relationship therapist Dana Ward told Elite Daily, "Fighting is normal. While some couples may think fighting is the sign of a bad relationship, it is actually very important. The key is fighting with a purpose." When you're angry, that's so easy to forget, but you should be fighting toward a mutually acceptable resolution. When that happens, the relationship just gets that much easier moving forward.
So, what do almost all couples fight about? Well, here are some oh-so-common themes.
1. Setting Boundaries Early And Often
Almost all fights really come down to two core things: boundaries and expectations. How do you expect to be treated by your partner, and what lines are you not willing to cross? Early on in the relationship, it's all about finding one's boundaries and figuring out what you need from one another, so it's natural that you're going to have some fights on the subject, as licensed marriage and family therapist Vienna Pharaon told Elite Daily, saying, “This is the time when they're figuring each other out, and it's also the time when they're the least confident in asking their partners for clarity, articulating boundaries, and feeling secure that making requests won't scare the other one off.” And this is very important if you want the relationship to last, because you’re "essentially agreeing to the terms of the relationship," said Pharaon.
Licensed psychotherapist Denise Limongello, agrees, explaining “Couples most often fight about elements that [were] never fully discussed or negotiated at the beginning of the relationship," explains Limongello. "Many couples are unresolved about critical issues such as money, daily responsibilities, and expectations." So, while those early disagreements can feel intense, what you are really doing is setting the foundation for a healthy relationship in the long run.
2. You’re going to fight about money — everyone does!
One of the most awkward (but seemingly endless) fights you’re going to have with your partner is about your finances, especially when you move in together or get married. Because suddenly, their debt, spending style, or cheapness is your problem too. Plus, money problems are just stressful, so it heightens every other problem or rough area in the relationship, which is why it's something you want to find a resolution to as soon as possible. In order to do that, dating expert and licensed marriage therapist, Anita A. Chlipala, said that first you have to “Identify what is important to each of you and why." From there, she said, it's about identifying your non-negotiables when it comes to finance, and then finding a compromise. For example, if you want to save, but they keep spending, you need to find a system of setting aside and saving a set amount, so that even if your partner spends more than you would prefer, you have a cushion.
3. You’ll fight over sex, and then have make-up sex to get over the fight.
In the honeymoon phase, you can't imagine that you will ever fight over sex, because it just comes so naturally and easily to you both. But once that phase ends and things slow down a bit, it can create some serious sexual tension — and not the good kind. The key here is to be open with your partner about what you're feeling, even when it's super awk, because many of the problems you face as a couple — especially in the bedroom — can be resolved with honest and open communication.
Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. As Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist, told Elite Daily, “Everyone has needs and we hope and expect our partner to meet them all. This is highly unrealistic. Talk about your needs and desires honestly and openly. They might not know what you need, and that's OK. Some people need to be told. Embrace that."
4. Communication style is maybe the most important fight you’ll have.
OK folks, here’s the biggie: communication style and feeling heard by one another. Once you've fought about this and come to a resolution, a lot of your other problems and fights will improve and you will feel a lot closer to your partner. I can’t tell you how many times my arguments with my SO would turn into fights over not feeling like the other person is understanding what the other is trying to say. As a result over time, we’ve learned that when this happening, we should pause and try rephrasing what we’re trying to communicate until we are on the same page. Only then is it possible to really come to a resolution. It’s not easy, but I swear it's cut our argument run-time in half.
Pharaon explained that's because “Healthy arguments involve self-aware and self-reflective individuals who listen to understand. These conversations require vulnerability and ask us to bravely share our hurt, fears, and insecurities with one another." She added, "Take ownership of what it is you want and need, and stay away from blaming the other person. The healthiest couples make the other person’s experience and feelings just as important as their own." When you’re in your feelings and frustrated, it can be really hard — I totally get that. But believe me when I say this one is a game changer.
As emotionally draining and frustrating as fighting can be, it really is an important part of a relationship. But think about it as a way to assert yourself and your boundaries, and as an opportunity to learn about what really matters to your SO. By embracing it as constructive, you can actually make your bond and relationship stronger. And here’s the thing: The better you are at arguing, the less you’ll do it over time because you actually resolve things and come to respect one another even more. That being said... I still want to use a different PlayStation avatar.
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