I’m one of those people who loves to argue, so this bodes well for me (should I ever get married again). According to a new study, couples who argue are more likely to be happy in their relationship. Turns out, passive aggressively sighing every time your partner walks past a pile of dirty laundry isn’t a very effective communication tool! Communication, even in the form of fighting or arguing, can make for a healthier relationship.
Couples who argue effectively are 10 times more likely to stay together. Effectively being the key word here.
Sweeping issues under the rug may seem like the best solution for some things. But allowing problems to fester creates more problems. We’re so quick to avoid arguing that we’re doing damage to our relationships! And we’ve all been there. No one actually wants to fight about the dirty dishes. But it’s not about the dishes, is it?
Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, says the biggest mistake couples make is avoiding the tough conversations. “We feel something but say nothing. At least until we can’t stand it anymore. So we wait until we are certain to discuss it poorly before we bring it up.”
The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 adults, showed that couples who communicated about issues regularly were happier. And, their relationships were stronger. More than 4 out of 5 respondents in the survey said that poor communication was a factor in previous failed relationships. 4 out of 5! Grenny says that the three most difficult topics for couples to address are sex, finances, and irritating habits. But, he says, “The success of a relationship is determined by the way in which sensitive issues are debated. True love takes work. Real intimacy is not just about love but is also about truth. And crucial conversations are the vehicle for surfacing truth in a way that accelerates a feeling of intimacy, trust and connection.”
OK, so arguing is good! But how do you do it effectively? Not waiting until both parties are at their wit’s end is a start. But there are other ways to argue that won’t end in everyone being pissed off and over it.
Be honest with your partner, about your feelings and their actions. Try to not use inflammatory language or make accusations. Be open to hearing their side, and talking about their feelings (even and especially if they’re contrary to yours). And listen! Listen, listen, listen. You want to be heard, and so does your partner.
There’s a big difference between thoughtful, productive arguing, and throwing dishes and screaming in a fit of rage. Don’t let it come to that. Talk it out right away, your relationship can very well depend on it.