There is disagreement and conflict in every human relationship. This experience can be informative and enriching -- it provides a platform for discussion in which you can learn more about your partner's thoughts, opinions, values and beliefs. This can be productive and beneficial to the relationship. When arguments become disrespectful, abusive or irreconcilable, however, the entire relationship faces the risk of collapsing under emotional pain and negativity.
Relationships that have previously been accustomed to healthy, respectful communication and boundaries are best equipped to manage a fight, according to Love Is Respect, an online resource dedicated to fostering healthy relationships. Honesty, trust, responsibility and accountability are characteristics of healthy relationships, as well. These are qualities necessary for identifying concerns, processing feelings, listening, experiencing empathy, offering support, problem-solving, apologizing and forgiving -- all of which facilitate resolution and reconciliation.
The reasons behind the fights themselves play a role in the couple's ability to overcome tension and confrontation. Arguments are a means of addressing concerns and attempting to resolve them, confirms Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. in her work title, “10 Rules for Friendly Fighting for Couples.” If the issue seems insurmountable, the relationship may already be headed for failure, such as can be the case with physical assault. The Domestic Violence Resource Center in Hillsboro, Oregon reports that abuse tends to escalate over time. In this situation, fear of physical harm is of greater concern than that of an argument about it, and the victim may be unable or unwilling to continue the relationship in order to preserve safety.
Beliefs About Disagreement
The ways in which partners perceive disagreements affect their ability to work through relationship issues. For instance, if either or both of them believe that in order to resolve matters, one must wholly sway the other into agreement, they are less likely to succeed. Negotiation and compromise are likely to be more effective but in this fashion, both parties' concerns can be addressed. Listening to one another and problem solving together will result in greater mutual satisfaction, indicates Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., in her article, "How Conflict Can Improve Relationships."
Frequency of Fighting
Relationships require regular attention and maintenance in order to thrive, but should not be nearly devoid of joy and harmony. It is healthy for couples to argue with one another acknowledges Tartakovsky in another article, "8 Surprising Myths About Relationships." If, however, partners tend to fight on a regular basis or find themselves in disagreement more often than they get along with one another, they might reconsider their compatibility and their desire to continue the relationship. Situations in which involved parties continuously invest time, energy and effort with little or no reward can be overwhelming, exhausting and unfulfilling -- and offer minimal incentive to keep working.
- PsychCentral: How Conflict Can Improve Your Relationship: Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
- Love Is Respect: Conflict Resolution
- PsychCentral: 10 Rules for Friendly Fighting for Couples: Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
- PsychCentral: 8 Surprising Myths About Relationships: Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
- Domestic Violence Resource Center: Domestic Violence 101
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