Why Fighting in Relationships Isn’t Always a Bad Thing: Understanding the Benefits of Conflict

by | Mar 3, 2023

Welcome to the world of relationships, where love is in the air and arguments are bound to happen! As much as we’d like to believe that fairy tale endings are real, the truth is that even the happiest of couples can experience conflict from time to time. But don’t worry—fighting in relationships isn’t always a bad thing!

In fact, healthy relationship fighting can be a great way to build intimacy, trust, and communication. So, let’s dive into why fighting in relationships isn’t always a bad thing and how to make the most of these moments to strengthen your relationship with your partner. Plus, I’ll even throw in some humor along the way to lighten things up. Let’s get started!

Why Healthy Relationship Fighting Be Good

Why does conflict even need to exist in relationships? The truth is that every individual is unique, and even partners who are highly compatible will sometimes find themselves at odds, facing disagreements or dealing with unmet expectations within the relationship. These arguments, however, can really be beneficial because they can eventually contribute to the growth of a more stable and intimate connection over time.

For starters, conflict gives couples the opportunity to settle disputes and misunderstandings in a productive way. A stronger understanding of each other’s opinions might result from open communication between the partners over a particular topic. Instead of allowing a problem to linger and fuel future conflict, with the right communication tools (e.g. active listening and emotional validation) couples can discover a solution that benefits both sides.

Healthy relationship fighting can also promote open communication and vulnerability among partners. We often speak more freely when we are passionate about something. Couples are able to address the root of their issues and find a solution this way. When both people feel safe sharing their thoughts and feelings with each other, communicating yourselves in this way can also lead to a deeper level of trust.

Most importantly, conflict can help relationships become stronger over time. Couples can have a better understanding of each other’s strengths, limitations, and values by working through issues together. Couples may become closer and feel more connected as a result as they learn to rely on one another in trying circumstances.

Of course, it’s crucial to keep in mind that not all disputes are constructive; in fact, some can be outright destructive. Fighting may, however, be a good thing for a relationship if partners approach conflicts with an open mind, a desire to listen, and a dedication to finding a solution that benefits both sides. The next time you and your spouse have a disagreement, keep in mind that it might also be a chance for you to get closer.

Why Unhealthy Relationship Fighting Can Be Bad

While there are undoubtedly positive opportunities to conflict in relationships, it’s critical to understand that not all conflict is constructive. In reality, some types of conflict can be damaging to the relationship.

For instance, when partners start calling each other names or making personal attacks during an argument, the problem can intensify quickly, become harder to resolve, and result in each partner feeling disrespected or devalued by the other’s words, resulting in a form of conflict that can be painful and detrimental.

Also, if both partners are too focused on “winning” an argument, it can lead to an unhealthy balance of power. A person may come to believe that their thoughts and feelings are not valued or respected if one person insists that they are always correct.

Finally, if disagreements are shrugged off or disregarded, they may boil up resentment between couples, which may eventually harm the relationship. In the long run, it can be harmful to the relationship’s health to avoid disagreement in an effort to keep things peaceful.

So, while conflict resolution and relationship strengthening can be achieved through fighting, it’s crucial to do it in a healthy and respectful manner. Couples may make the most of their disagreements and emerge from them stronger. To do this, they should refrain from personal attacks, concentrate on coming up with a solution that benefits both of them, and be open to listening and compromising. If you’re wondering whether it might be the right time to consider couples therapy, remember it’s never too early (or too late) to seek professional help, and the answer is almost always yes!

How much fighting is normal in a couple relationship?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits and potential drawbacks of fighting in relationships, let’s talk about how often couples actually fight. The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question—it really depends on the couple!

Research shows that couples may argue anywhere from once a week to once a month, depending on factors like age, length of the relationship, and personality traits. Of course, some couples may argue less frequently, while others may argue more frequently. As long as the conflicts are handled respectfully, there’s no “right” or “wrong” amount of fighting in a relationship.

But let’s be real: even the healthiest of couples are bound to argue from time to time. As the old saying goes, “You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” So, don’t beat yourself up if you and your partner are having a disagreement; it’s all part of the journey! Plus, if you can learn to laugh at yourselves and find the humor in the situation, it can help diffuse the tension and make the conflict a little easier to handle.

Common Misconceptions about Fighting in Relationships

There are many myths we tell ourselves about fighting in relationships. Let’s clear up a few of these misconceptions with a little help from science.

First, is the idea that if a couple argues, it means they’re not meant to be together or they have a toxic relationship. It’s true that research has shown that more time arguing correlates with decreased relationship satisfaction and more negative perceptions of the relationship (Hogan et al, 2021). But that’s not the whole story.

The way a couple fights is a major part of the equation that is often overlooked in societal understanding of relationship conflict. For example, one recent study showed that conflicts can foster deeper connections and understanding between partners when they’re approached constructively – like using mindful conflict resolution strategies (Mandal 2022).

Finally, we have the belief that couples who don’t fight have perfect relationships. Well, let me tell you something, friends: no relationship is perfect, and every couple has their own set of quirks and challenges to work through. Numerous studies have shown that even couples that fight less often can still have negative feelings or perceptions about the relationship (Manalel, Birditt, Orbuch, & Antonucci, 2019). So don’t judge yourself if you get stuck in a negative cycle. Just keep working on those communication skills and don’t hesitate to reach out for support from a trained couples therapist if needed.

How to Fight Healthily in a Relationship

Okay, so we’ve established that conflict is a natural part of any relationship – but how can we ensure that our disagreements are handled in a healthy and productive way? Here are some suggestions to bear in mind:

First and foremost, avoid personal attacks and name-calling. Not only is it hurtful, but it’s also counterproductive to finding a solution. Furthermore, calling your partner a “big jerk” is probably not going to help you solve the problem.

Next, try to stay focused on the issue at hand. It can be easy to get sidetracked or bring up old grudges, but doing so can complicate matters and make it even harder to find a solution. Therefore, make an effort to stay on topic and work toward a compromise that works for everyone.

Listen actively and try to understand your partner’s perspective. When you feel that your point of view is being challenged, it can be easy to become defensive or dismissive, but taking the time to pause, breathe, and truly listen to your partner can help you to resolve the conflict. Who knows, maybe in the process you’ll discover something new about them!

Finally, self-regulation is crucial in making an argument productive. Take breaks when needed to cool down. When you’re angry or frustrated, it can be challenging to find a solution to a conflict when it gets heated. Therefore, don’t be afraid to take a break if you need to do so in order to decompress and gather your thoughts. Just make sure you return to the discussion once you both feel composed and prepared to work toward a resolution. This continues to build safety and trust with your partner instead of “sweeping things under the rug.

In summary, fighting in relationships isn’t always a bad thing, as long as it’s handled in a healthy and respectful way. So, the next time you and your partner find yourselves in a disagreement, take a deep breath, keep these tips in mind, and don’t forget to sprinkle a little humor into the mix.

In Conclusion: Fighting for a Stronger Relationship

We’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to fighting in relationships. From why conflict can be a good thing to common misconceptions about fighting to tips for handling disagreements in a healthy way, we’ve explored the ins and outs of this often misunderstood topic.

So, what’s the bottom line? When it comes down to it, healthy relationship fighting can be a normal part of any partnership. It can help couples build intimacy, trust, and understanding—as long as it’s handled in a respectful and productive way.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not all conflict is created equal. Unhealthy fighting styles, like personal attacks, focusing on “winning” or pursue-withdraw patterns, can be damaging to a relationship. But by keeping communication open, focusing on finding a solution that works for both parties, and approaching disagreements with a willingness to listen and compromise, couples can navigate conflict in a way that strengthens their relationship over time.

So, the next time you and your partner find yourselves in a disagreement, don’t be afraid to embrace the conflict as an opportunity for growth and connection. And who knows—you might just come out the other side with an even stronger partnership than before. After all, as they say, “the best things in life are worth fighting for.”

Mara Hirschfeld, LMFT
Mara Hirschfeld, LMFT
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and the proud founder of Holding Hope MFT. I created Holding Hope as a space for individuals and couples to delve into their deepest selves, free from the fears of judgment or shame. Through my writing, I strive to cultivate a deeper understanding of mental health topics, breaking down barriers and fostering a more supportive and informed community.

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