If you're like most people, you don't get much joy out of fighting, especially when the argument is with your significant other. Unfortunately, fighting is an important part of all relationships, particularly romantic ones. "Couples, like all individuals, will have disagreements—and fighting can be the way in which disagreements are resolved because they often allow individuals to air their unexpressed concerns regarding an issue or behavior," says Jess Carbino, Ph.D., an online dating and relationship expert. "Fighting can be especially positive because it provides individuals the opportunity to vigorously express their emotions, which many individuals, both men and women, are often not encouraged to do." Additionally, she points out that conflict can often allow couples to become closer to one another through learning about their history and preferences and why they behave in the manner they do.
In short, if you fight with your significant other, know that you're not only normal, but you're also on track to achieve a happy marriage—at least as long as each of you is fighting fair. Here, relationship experts explain the seven most important fights that every happy couple has at least once over the course of their relationship or marriage.
There's a reason money is the single most common thing couples fight about—finances are stressful! Considering the fact that it's common for both partners to work full-time, there's even more discussion and decision-making involved when it comes to shared finances. "Money matters are particularly tricky given that our concerns regarding money are typically related to values or personality characteristics such as cautiousness," explains Dr. Carbino. "Moreover, our views of and approach to money are typically related to how we observed our families spending money as children." To resolve conflicts about money, she recommends having an initial conversation about how it was spent in your family, what your financial and personal goals are broadly, your current financial situation, and how you spend your money. "When financial conflicts emerge, couples can then return to the initial conversation to determine how to best understand the perspective of their significant other and resolve the issue at hand," she adds.
If you live with your partner, you've probably already had this all-too-common argument sparked by too many dishes piling up in the sink and dirty clothes strewn around the house. "It is best to let each other know what is expected, especially if one person likes things to be clean and orderly and the other person does not," says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., a relationship expert. "Bring it out in the open and deal with it, because it will not go away over time."
"When two individuals come together in marriage, they bring their family with them—and this can include not only parents but step-parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and aunts and uncles," says Dr. Michael. Naturally, this can cause tensions to rise and lead to an argument about one or both sides of the family. The best thing to do in these situations is to determine where each of you stands on how much or how little your families will be involved in everyday life. Ultimately, it's important that you two come to a compromise that makes sense for your situation.
Like family, your circles of friends and how often you see them can cause arguments. Perhaps there's one person your partner is close friends with whom you find to be annoying or rather intrusive. Speaking up is important. Even though you are not dating your partner's friends, friends are often a major part of your social life as a couple. "The proper way to resolve issues related to friends would be for you or your partner to directly convey to the other person why you find the behavior to be problematic," says Dr. Carbino.
Who You're Spending the Holidays With
Holidays are important and while both sides of the family are now yours (and your partner's), the discussion over who to spend this joyous occasion with this year is always sensitive. This is especially complicated if there's only one major holiday that each of your family celebrates, such as Thanksgiving. Come to a reasonable compromise that's fair and that you both feel good about.
How many children you want to have, when you want to have them, and how those children should be raised are all common things couples fight about. "Conflicts about child rearing, however common, provide families with an opportunity to figure out not only how they choose to rear their child, but it also provides parents with an opportunity to discuss their child, their personality, and how to effectively parent the child as an individual," says Dr. Carbino.
While there are so many things couples can argue about when it comes to sex, one of the most common is when one partner is interested in sex more than the other, according to Wendi L. Dumbroff, MA, licensed professional counselor. "I've worked with many couples who love and respect each other, are great parents together, and want to be married to each other, but for whatever reason, when it comes to sex, they are on different pages," she says. The pro recommends thinking about intimacy in of willingness—rather than desire—at first. "It has been shown in studies that women in long term relationships tend to lose desire, but when they are 'willing' to engage in sexual intimacy, they can feel responsive desire and remember why they ever wanted to have sex in the first place."