What's Your Conflict Style?

Are Arguments Normal In A Relationship? How Often Is Normal?

conflict relationships Oct 05, 2023
is it normal to have arguments?

Help! Are Arguments Normal in a Relationship?

Partnerships of any kind can be filled with beautiful moments, but even in a healthy relationship, they can also have their fair share of disagreements and conflicts which is no small thing. So in short, every relationship expert will agree that yes, it is normal to have different opinions and to argue.

I suspect if you are asking yourself this question, you might be wondering if the number of fights feels like constant fighting or frequency of your fights is a bad thing. Perhaps you're worried about a bigger issue like the topics of your conflict, or perhaps even the intensity of them. If you are, it's a good sign that you're looking things up, and hopefully will find in this blog a healthy way to express a different point of view with your romantic partner. 

Whether you're new to dating or have been set in one for years, this post aims to provide you with insights and guidance on having a productive argument, or at least a different way of having relationship fights.

Before we do though, do you know your Conflict Style in a relationship? It can be the start of understanding any patterns in your fights and turning conflict into connections and conversations. If you're the sort of person who likes all the knowledge there is, then you're going to want to work out your patterns around conflict.

By knowing how you fight in a partnership, you can change the way you interact and break cycles of negative interaction. I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist, and do a lot of couples therapy in my private practice. 

What Do People Argue About In Relationships?

Every couple encounters disagreements with little things which blow up into the occasional arguments. Even healthy couples can have a real problem with common issues revolving around communication skills, time management, and finances. Early on in a relationship, trust and intimacy are often the hot topics, while long-term couples might bicker over chores and daily habits. Stress, unsurprisingly, exacerbates these communication challenges, emphasizing the need for addressing recurring issues during calmer moments to have more productive conversations. 

A study conducted by Amie Gordon with 100 cohabiting couples in long-term relationships delved into common reasons why conflict is triggered. Couples were asked to rate 15 potential relationship conflict topics based on their own experiences, painting a broad picture of common causes of couple fights and deeper issues. The findings were illuminating. Conflict was present across all topics, yet different perspectives on family dynamics, religious matters, and finances had higher disagreement rates. Notably, many couples exhibited strong agreement on a real issue family and religious matters. The top three contentious areas were communication styles, conventionality (appropriate behavior), and sexual matters, closely followed by chores and finances. Interestingly, leisure activities were the least concerning, with only 2% of couples finding it a recurrent issue.

Another study found that money was found to be the number one important topics married couples argue about, with 86% of couples who got married in the last five years starting out in in difficult times with debt. It was also found that the higher a couple's debt burden, the more likely they were to argue about money.


How Often Is It Usual To Have An Argument?

A survey of 1,000 Americans in a “serious relationship” was conducted in May 2022 by YouGov.Org and asked questions to that effect.

  • Only 30, out of the 1000 couples reported never arguing, which might sound healthy, but in my experience, it's fairly unusual and I'd suspect there to be some unhealthy dynamic that was not being expressed.
  • 30% of the couples reported fighting weekly, so if you are at this end of the spectrum you're in the with the majority of couples in.
  • 28% said they fight once a month.

It seems to me that nearly two-thirds of couples have an argument somewhere between once a week and once a month.

But if conflict is wearing you down, or you want some help reducing the number of times you fight with your partner, My People Patterns is full of tips tricks and therapeutic tools to help you turn toxic fights into togetherness.

Check out The Conflict Compass - it's filled with tools and knowledge about why couples fight and how to prevent things from escalating and a lot of conflict resolution tools.


How Can Couples Better Communicate to Prevent Arguments?

The key to maintaining a healthy and harmonious connection lies in effective communication. By improving the way couples communicate, they can prevent fights from escalating and foster a deeper understanding of each other's needs. Some of the more practical strategies that couples can employ to enhance their communication and minimize conflict in their partnerships are below

1. A Weekly Check-In

A structured weekly activity to connect and talk can be a valuable tool for couples to improve their communication and prevent conflict. This activity provides a designated time and space for partners to connect and discuss any concerns, issues, or successes in their romantic lives. By engaging in this regular practice, couples can proactively address potential conflicts and strengthen their connection. If you don't know what this looks like, take a look at the My People Patterns Weekly Check-In Check-List activity, it's only $10 and provides a lifetime of structure to your check-ins.

2. Practice Active Listening:

One of the most crucial aspects of effective communication is active listening. To prevent bickering, it's essential to truly hear and understand your partner's perspective without interrupting or formulating counterarguments in your mind. Give your undivided attention, maintain eye contact, and show empathy by acknowledging their feelings. By demonstrating that you genuinely value their opinion, you create a safe space for open and honest communication. These are covered in the Conflict Compass too

3. Use "I" Statements:

When discussing sensitive topics or expressing concerns, using "I" statements can significantly reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and defensive reactions. Instead of blaming or attacking your partner with statements like "You always..." or "You never...," focus on expressing your own feelings and needs. For example, say, "I feel overwhelmed when I have to handle all the household chores alone," rather than, "You never help me around the house." By using "I" statements, you take ownership of your emotions and avoid putting your partner on the defensive.

4. Focus on Building Emotional Connection:

In addition to effective communication, building a strong emotional connection is vital for a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Here are some strategies that couples can employ to strengthen their emotional bond:

5. Spend Quality Time Together:

Make it a priority to spend quality time with your partner regularly. Whether it's going on a date night, taking a walk together, or simply cuddling on the couch, carving out dedicated time for each other helps foster intimacy and connection. 

How Do Arguments Impact Couples In The Long-Term?

Falling out can have a significant impact on a relationship in the long-term. While disagreements are a natural part of any partnership, how they are handled can either strengthen or weaken the bond between two individuals.

In the short term, disagreements can create tension, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. They can disrupt the harmony and stability of a relationship, making both partners feel disconnected and frustrated. Unresolved conflicts can also lead to resentment, build up emotional walls, and create a cycle of negativity. However, it is essential to understand that disagreements, when handled constructively, can actually be beneficial in the long run.

When disagreements are approached with respect, open-mindedness, and effective communication, they can serve as opportunities for growth and understanding. Engaging in healthy conflict allows partners to express their thoughts, concerns, and needs, leading to a deeper understanding of each other's perspectives. This increased understanding can foster empathy, enhance emotional intimacy, and strengthen the connection between partners.

Moreover, conflict can bring underlying issues to the surface, providing an opportunity for problem-solving and growth as a couple. By addressing these underlying problems and finding mutually satisfying resolutions, partners can learn from their disagreements and develop stronger conflict-resolution skills.

However, if fighting become repetitive, hostile, or unresolved, they can have detrimental effects on a relationship in the long-term. Continuous conflicts can create a toxic environment, erode trust, and chip away at the emotional bond between partners. They can create a sense of insecurity, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, leading to emotional distance and perhaps even separation.


Learn more about conflict, family systems and growing great relationships

My People Patterns shares the best tools, techniques and knowledge from a family systems perspective - all aimed at helping you grow great relationships. Hit subscribe to learn more about our S.O.F.T approach to healthy connections.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.