Fighting is a taboo subject in our culture.
It’s something that couples don’t often talk about, even though it happens to almost everyone from time to time.
But how much is too much?
Is it normal to fight every day in a relationship?
What can couples do to stop the madness?
If you’re looking for answers, you’re in the right place.
Let’s dive into how often couples argue, how much fighting is healthy, and how to handle it if things get out of hand.
- What Is Considered Fighting in a Relationship or Marriage?
- How Often Do Couples Fight?
- How Much Arguing is Normal in a Healthy Relationship
- What is an Unhealthy Amount of Fighting in a Relationship?
- How Do I Stop Fighting With My Partner? 9 Ways to Stop It Before It Starts
- When Is Fighting Healthy in a Relationship?
What Is Considered Fighting in a Relationship or Marriage?
When talking about “fighting” in a relationship or marriage, it’s essential to understand what we mean by the term.
In this context, fighting refers to any kind of disagreement between two people that causes an emotional.
This can manifest as:
- Verbal arguments: A verbal argument may involve raised voices, insults, interruptions, criticism, or making quiet comments behind a person’s back.
- Physical fights: Physical fights can range from a minor shove or push to an all-out brawl. Physical violence should never be tolerated in a relationship, even if no one is hurt.
- Silent treatment, stonewalling, or refusal to communicate: When one person completely shuts the other out, it can be a form of emotional abuse. Avoidant types of conflict are especially damaging to relationships because it makes it nearly impossible to resolve the issue.
- Passive-aggressive behavior: Passive-aggressive behavior is a way of expressing anger without actually saying it. For example, rolling one’s eyes, making subtle comments to hurt the other person, or refusing to do something that was requested.
All of these fighting modalities revolve around one central theme; an inability to communicate effectively.
The way we express our frustration around this depends on the individual, but it can all lead to major relationship turmoil if not managed appropriately.
[Side Note: You might consider the Couples Communication Course. In this online course, learn healthy communication skills and build the intimacy you’ve always wanted in your relationship.)
How Often Do Couples Fight?
How often do couples argue? On average, a couple will fight anywhere between one to three times each week.
That doesn’t mean that couples are constantly fighting or even arguing; it just means that they disagree on something, and those disagreements get heated.
Fights rarely come out of the blue. There’s almost always a pattern behind the fighting, so major fighting themes may develop.
For example, if a couple fights every time they talk about money, then this fight may happen once a week when they sit to work together on their budget.
Here are some factors and triggers that determine how often a couple will fight:
- The ability to self-regulate and communicate: Different couples have different levels of communication and emotional regulation skills. The lower their ability to self-regulate and communicate, the more likely they are to fight.
- Stressors: Stress is a major trigger of arguments and disagreements. Different couples will have different stress levels, determining how often they fight.
- Personality differences: Different personalities can clash, and this could lead to more fights. For example, an extrovert who loves talking to others may not get along well with an introvert who prefers to stay at home.
- Support systems: Couples need a strong support system if they want to avoid fights. Support can look like family, friends, or a professional therapist who can help them navigate their disagreements in a healthy way.
Everyone can improve on one of the four factors mentioned above, and in doing so, couples can significantly reduce how often they fight. Working on these areas can help couples create healthier, more harmonious relationships.
How Much Arguing is Normal in a Healthy Relationship
How often do married couples fight? What about newlyweds or couples that have just moved in together? Generally speaking, how much arguing is considered normal in a healthy relationship?
The amount of arguing considered “normal” depends on how a person defines a healthy relationship. Generally, couples should not argue more than once or twice per week.
If they are arguing more often than that, there is likely an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Here are some ways you’ll feel if fights are getting too frequent:
- Feeling like you’re walking on eggshells
- Having trouble identifying what the problem is
- Loss of connection and intimacy
- Frequent episodes of anger
- Regularly having to apologize
- Feeling like you’re stuck in a cycle of fighting
If you’re feeling any of these things, it may be time to take a step back and address some more profound questions.
Is your partner willing to talk about these issues? If not, are you willing to stay in the relationship knowing that you may not resolve the problems?
These questions may be hard to face, but they are important to consider if you don’t want to get caught in a cycle of unhealthy fighting.
What is an Unhealthy Amount of Fighting in a Relationship?
So, how much is too much fighting in a relationship? There is no definitive answer to this question as it varies from couple to couple.
However, many measure this number by assessing how much the fights affect the relationship and their personal values, goals, or well-being.
Here are some things to consider when assessing how much is too much fighting in a relationship:
- Frequency: Are you and your partner constantly picking every little thing apart? Or are the fights becoming more frequent over time?
- Intensity: Is the intensity of the fights escalating to the point where there are no emotional clarity, logic, or boundaries? Is it simply escalating for no particular reason?
- Safety: Do you feel safe in the relationship, or is there an underlying feeling of fear or unease?
- Resolution: Can you and your partner come together after a fight, or does it linger and breed resentment in the relationship?
If the answer to some of these questions is yes, it may be time to seek assistance and learn how to manage conflict in your relationship better. You can reach out to family and friends, a counselor or therapist, or other professionals for help.
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How Do I Stop Fighting With My Partner? 9 Ways to Stop It Before It Starts
If you’re not feeling good about the frequency or intensity of fights in your relationship, don’t despair. You can reduce the amount of fighting you and your partner have by addressing the issues before they become too big.
Here are nine ways to stop arguments before they start.
1. Find the Underlying Pattern
Almost every fight is rooted in an underlying issue. Rather than arguing about the surface problem, take some time to explore what is really going on beneath the surface.
This can help you identify what is really at the heart of the conflict and give you a place to start when attempting to resolve it.
Spend time doing this outside of an argument. Journalling is one of the best ways to use reflection to understand the subtleties of a conflict. Just let the pen continue to write until you hit something that feels true and meaningful.
2. Respect Your Partner’s Boundaries
Establishing that both of you have the right to voice your opinion, disagree, and set boundaries is essential.
For example, if you know your partner can’t listen when he’s doing many things at once, don’t get mad at them for not hearing what you said while they’re washing the dishes.
Small boundaries like this can help keep fights from escalating out of control and add understanding and compassion to the relationship.
3. Acknowledge Each Other’s Feelings
We think we are trying to get the facts right in a fight. But the truth is, it’s just an emotional battlefield, and the only way to win is to recognize your partner’s feelings and show empathy for their point of view.
When we can acknowledge our partner and how they feel, we de-escalate their anger and create a safe space for them to express themselves with less defensiveness and anger.
4. Discuss the Fight Once Things Calm Down
Talk about previous fights when things have calmed down and you are both in a better headspace. Many couples don’t talk about problems when things are good, leading to more problems.
This is a good opportunity to discuss how it made you both feel, what the underlying issue was, and how to avoid similar fights in the future.
5. Don’t Say Sorry – Apologize
Some people think that using the words “I’m sorry” is the same as an apology, but it isn’t. Apologizing is about admitting that we were wrong and taking responsibility for our words or actions.
Say something like: “I wanted you to know that I’m sorry for yelling at you. I know that when someone raises their voice at me, it makes me feel scared and disrespected. I don’t want that in our relationship or to make you feel that way.”
6. Ask Questions
We become less curious in moments of conflict. This is because our mind is pinging between three possibilities: fight, flight, or freeze.
There’s a narrow focus when we’re hurt and trying to protect ourselves. But when we can bring curiosity into the conversation, it shifts the dynamic and opens up opportunities to listen.
Ask your partner lots of questions in and out of fights, and make sure to really listen to the answers.
7. Take a Time Out
Sometimes it can be hard to stay calm when we’re in the heat of an argument. A time-out can be a great way to step away and give yourself some space to cool down.
Make sure you don’t storm off, leaving your partner in the weeds. Instead, say: “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, and I don’t want to act impulsively. Can we take a break and come back to this conversation in half an hour?”
This may nip the conflict in the bud by giving you a redo.
8. Seek Professional Help
It takes a lot of work to reduce or stop relationship conflicts. We aren’t taught this stuff in school, and we don’t always have the best modeling from the media or our friends and families.
Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can give you the tools to deal with these issues more constructively. It can also help you better understand yourself, your partner, and the relationship.
Focusing on the breath is so simple, yet so powerful. Most people don’t realize they’re holding their breaths during a fight or taking shallow sips of air.
Yes, even though you’re not noticing it, this behavior changes your biochemistry, affecting your handling of the situation.
So, when things get tense, take a few breaths and focus on the rise and fall of your chest – this can help to keep you in the present moment rather than getting swept away by your emotions.
When Is Fighting Healthy in a Relationship?
Fighting can be healthy when two partners are respectful, honest, and willing to work together.
This doesn’t mean that they need to be happy with the situation or hide their emotions, but it means that they have the larger picture in mind and aren’t looking to sabotage themselves or their relationship.
Here are some ways that couples can have productive and competent fights:
- Make agreements about fights beforehand: Setting some boundaries and expectations before you fight can help keep things in check. For example, agree not to bring up past issues or discuss any topics that could lead to an escalation.
- Be open and honest: It’s important to be honest with your partner while still respecting their feelings. Make sure that what you’re saying is truthful, and don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions.
- Express your feelings, not just the facts: Instead of simply stating what you think happened, explain how it made you feel. This will help your partner understand the situation better and can help bring about a resolution.
- Use “I” statements: Starting sentences with “I” will help you take ownership of your feelings and lead to less defensiveness.
- Know when to step away: When you can’t resolve things, sometimes staying in a fight can be more damaging than stepping away and coming back when both parties are calm.
- Listen to each other: Hear your partner’s point of view and hold back on interruptions, even if you disagree.
By keeping these ideas in mind, you and your partner can more easily navigate arguments and work through the problem together.
No one likes to fight with their significant other. But it’s important to remember that not all fights are bad. As long as both parties focus on learning how to fight productively and respectfully, it can be a positive experience.
So, don’t be afraid to encourage healthy conflict in your relationship. It will be worth it in the long run!