LIFE

The Most Common Fights In A Relationship

How much fighting is too much?

20/06/2017 2:50 PM AEST | Updated 20/06/2017 2:54 PM AEST

All couples fight. Probably about the same things, over and over again.

But there's a difference between what constitutes having a healthy argument and when things in your relationship take a turn for the worse.

What is a normal fight? What are the common fights most couples have? And how much fighting is too much?

The most common arguments couples have

"Generally, any issues that tap into people's core values can lead to conflict in relationships, especially when those values clash," relationship expert Melanie Schilling tells HuffPost Australia.

"Perhaps the most common argument Aussie couples face revolves around money. When couples have different beliefs about money, it often leads to different emotional reactions to spending, different spending and saving behaviours and conflict around future financial planning.

"Money sometimes represents power in a relationship and when there is an imbalance, so for example if one partner earns or contributes more than the other, it can lead to feelings of insecurity, frustration, disappointment, resentment or anger."

Other common catalysts for an argument include parenting style, in-laws and the division of chores in the household.

"Where arguments tend to get a bit more inflammatory is after a couple has children," executive manager of Relationships Australia, Elisabeth Shaw, continues.

"Once there are children in the mix, there tends to be a lot more heart and emotions on the line. Arguments about parenting styles and the division of labour and general tension around who gets more time off, themes of equity and fairness, these can really accumulate after having children."

Ian Nolan
Having kids can add extra stress to a relationship.

Shaw also states most couples will tend to have a 'go-to' fight which could be unique their relationship, and will tend to resort to this argument when things become stressed between them.

"An otherwise happy couple still have some differences that sometimes are the perennial arguments that happen across their relationship, and that doesn't have to be a bad sign necessarily," she says. "Say for example a couple who get on very well, but one likes to be more relaxed in the home and the other person is more of a neat freak.

"That kind of thing, when everything is happy and going well, is well managed. But if you're tired or stressed or having a rough patch, couples will tend to resort to this 'go to annoyance'."

Is fighting normal?

"Absolutely," says Schilling. "It is very healthy for couples to 'call out' when they are seeing an issue from different perspectives.

"Rather than playing the blame game, it can be really productive to examine the issue and try to understand each others' perspective.

Any arguments that are attacking the person, rather than the problem, should be avoided at all costs.Melanie Schilling

"When these discussions are respectful and mature, they can lead to deeper understanding and intimacy within the relationship."

Which brings us to one of the central and most important points to consider when having an argument: the how is just as, if not more than, important than the why.

Fighting fair

"There's this notion that every fight has to be debriefed and resolved, but sometimes it is pointless to resolve it," Shaw says. "Sometimes happily married couples will have the same type of fight for years. The research says what's more important is the style of fighting.

"If you can fight and still be respectful and know the other person has a valid position and end up where there's no harm done, that fight is accommodated in a successful relationship.

"But if you fight in a way where you take no prisoners, and you say damaging things, and the fight goes all evening, or it's the style of fight that can leave you raw and affected... it's that style of fighting that's the red hot issue and the one that could compromise the relationship."

Juanmonino
How you fight is half the battle.

Stick to the issue

"Make it about the issue and not about the person," Shaw advises. "And don't bring in other issues. You don't want to be saying, 'that reminds me, there are these 12 other things that have been annoying me'."

"Any arguments that are attacking the person, rather than the problem, should be avoided at all costs," Schilling adds. "Remember, there are two of you in the relationship and most often issues arise as a result of something going wrong in the 'dynamic' as opposed to one person being 100 percent to blame."

Keep within the time frame

"If it just happened yesterday, keep it within that time frame," Shaw says. "And by that I mean bring it up in a timely fashion -- don't stew on it for weeks."

Getty Images
Ignoring the situation won't make it go away.

Leave other people out of it

Shaw argues the fight is between the two of you, and it should stay that way.

"Don't bring other people into it," she states. "So what you don't want to be saying is, 'not only am I annoyed with you but all my friends tell me I'm right and are annoyed at you too.'

"Don't go around and canvass with other people."

Admit your part in the fight

This one is a tough pill to swallow, but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

"Be accountable for your own involvement, what you may have brought to the argument," Shaw says. "Particularly if you know you're not in good shape yourself.

"So, for instance, if you come home and you've had a rotten day and your work is getting you down and the house is a mess, while the mess might not be your fault, being able to acknowledge that you weren't in a great mood to begin is a good thing to do.

Rather than looking at the quantity of fighting (i.e. how often) focus on the quality (i.e. how intense).Melanie Schilling

"There is real value in calming down and asking 'what's my part in this picture?' Anyone who can be a little accountable will not only influence the outcome [of the argument], but it's a more attractive way of addressing the issue.

"So you could say 'I came home after a terrible day and had this fantasy that everything would be lovely. But I still do need to mention that mess is something we need to talk about'."

How much fighting is too much?

"Rather than looking at the quantity of fighting (i.e. how often) focus on the quality (i.e. how intense)," Schilling advises. "Bickering in a relationship becomes dysfunctional when one or both partners feel devalued or unsafe, feel attacked or undermined, believe the relationship is not 'fair', or are unable to reach a solution."

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