Do happy couples fight?
The first time I heard this, my first answer was 'no.' After years of being single, I remember feeling nothing but pure bliss when I met my partner. I’ve finally found my person and can’t imagine life without them. But once the honeymoon phase is over, things start to change. A few years go by, add a couple of kids, a mortgage, and I found myself singing a different tune. As the relationship progressed I couldn’t stand the sight of my partner, and that’s when pure bliss became pure misery. How could this happen?
As we live in a world amidst a global pandemic, divorce is skyrocketing, and making a relationship work seems almost impossible. A recent study showed that since quarantine, 71% of couples reported feeling anxious within their relationships while 62% reported feeling stressed, and 50% felt overwhelmed.
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After seeing the numbers you would assume that this only affects couples who already had some underlying issues, but does this apply to those cute couples who you love? You know – the cute couples that post matching outfits on Instagram and are always smiling.
The short answer is...absolutely.
“I think there’s a myth that good couples don’t fight,” said Chloe Ballatore, a relationship and communication expert from Princeton University. “It’s part of the overall obsession with appearance. There’s a prejudice against expressing your feelings, which are yin because we live in a very thought-based yang society that values work over pleasure.”
For years talking about your feelings has always felt taboo. Our civilization conveys a very strong messaging about what a relationship is “supposed” to look like. The topic of fighting only reaches the surface when things turn for the worst. Whenever we hear fighting or couples arguing our brain automatically gravitates towards a negative outcome.
This is why many people believe to have a healthy relationship, there shouldn’t be any conflict whatsoever. However, experts say that not fighting at all only makes things worse.
It turns out fighting is HEALTHY in any relationship.
Dr. Carla Manly, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert, and author of “Joy from Fear,” expressed how common fighting is in relationships: “One interesting study found that couples argue, on average, seven times per day. And research shows that longer relationships tend to have less conflict because couples use their disagreements to become more in tune with each other rather than farther apart.”
Fighting is needed for relationships to thrive. It can offer a new pathway to creating a deep connection but, to be honest, letting someone know about your thoughts and emotions is scary. It’s a very vulnerable experience.
Often couples try their best to shy away from fighting because they fear things will turn South. The truth of the matter is most couples don’t know how to fight - and it’s no fault of their own. “We learn how to interact in relationships from childhood role models such as parents and caregivers,” explains Dr. Manly. “If we learned healthy patterns early on, it’s likely those patterns will be carried into later relationships. However, if unhealthy conflict-resolution was modeled, toxic patterns will be carried over.”
This means if we learned our communication skills, that means every couple can relearn their patterns. We can make a conscious effort to change the way we speak to one another as long as it’s done together.
The secret is learning how you communicate and resolve the issue together.
Regardless of how long they’ve been together, every pair can learn new ways of communicating for the better. “We want to defend and attack the other partner, but this will get you nowhere,” states Salina Schmidgall, founder of Lotus Rising LLC, a mental health and wellness consulting service located in St. Louis, Mo. “Arguments can be about anything and everything. Money is a big one, how to discipline children, what’s for dinner, etc. It’s not what the fight is about that matters but how they come together and solve the problem. If you’re listening to why your partner is in pain and can be vulnerable with them, you won’t fight but rather have a bonding moment.”
The ability to listen and understand their partners' perspectives is one of the most important tools healthy relationships have. The majority of every fight comes from someone feeling unseen, unheard, or unloved. The one lesson couples who join marriage counseling learn is listening and understanding their significant others' points of view. It doesn’t give them an excuse for their action, but it allows you to understand the real meaning is behind them.
Fighting can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be.
You’re growing with someone you desire and want to spend your life with. You and your partner can create and customize how you and your partner take on the good and the bad. Life changes, and so will your relationship. It will continue to evolve, and it’s up to the couple to create healthy ways to communicate and be on the same page.
We’re already starting to see a new wave of communication in relationships, and it’s going viral. From love language tests, Red Table Talk with Will and Jada, and the wise words from the former monk, Jay Shetty, and his wife Radhi Devlukia, there are ample examples to look at. Couples with healthy communication skills are blowing up the internet. It’s shining a light on those intimate moments making #couplegoals one of the most used hashtags (over 32 million posts on Instagram to be exact).
Now, whenever my partner and I fight it’s not as scary anymore. We try our best to understand one another and we both know that this will not be the first or last time. Disagreements and conflict will happen. It’s perfectly normal, expressing our feelings is important, and we don’t have to abandon who we are for the sake of presenting the perfect relationship. We’re a team and we got each other's back.
Also, when you see a photo of those cute couples posing together on a beautiful tropical vacation, always remember they’re fighting seven times a day. Just like you and your boo.
Startribune – Couples who argue together stay together
Forbes – Couples In Quarantine Only 18% are satisfied with their communication during coronavirus pandemic
Chloe Ballatore, Relationship and Communication Expert
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, Clinical Psychologist
Salina Schmidgall, M. Ed, PLPC, NCC, Founder of Lotus Rising LLC
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