How often do married couples fight? Whether your conflict is over finances, household chores, or underlying issues, constant fighting can mean you need help. However, it’s difficult to know what is normal. So how do you know when it’s time to call it quits? This blog post will examine the signs indicating your marriage is in trouble. We will also discuss when couple arguments are healthy or when they may raise deeper issues.
How Often Do Couples Argue in a Healthy Relationship?
How often do couples fight? Depending on their temperaments and personalities, some healthy couples argue every day. Others may only have disagreements once in a while or only rarely.
The crucial thing to remember is that there is no “normal” when it comes to how often married couples fight. Every relationship is different, and what might be normal for one couple may not be typical for another.
According to Insider.com, “It’s very common in our culture for couples to have disagreements,” says Moe Ari Brown, a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Some couples argue just once a month or once every two to three months, Brown says, while others may argue once a week, depending on where they are in their relationship.
“There is no average number of times couples have disagreements, in that each couple is different,” says JaQuinda Jackson, a licensed therapist in private practice. “However, there are a couple of key warning signs that you may be fighting too much… If you are in a relationship in which you find yourself having verbal disagreements daily or more disagreements than agreements, this would be considered unhealthy,” Jackson says.
So the key is that an average couple in a healthy relationship has more positive experiences than disagreements. Their arguing happens less often than their moments of peace.
Unhealthy Relationship Fighting
Some signs indicate that your arguments may indicate more profound issues that need help. It is not a healthy argument when one or both partners act in the following ways:
- Stonewalling: Tuning out your partner, shutting down conversations or arguments
- Defensiveness: Not taking responsibility for your role in a disagreement
- Criticizing: Attacking who your partner is instead of focusing on a single concern. This could involve saying truly hurtful things that your partner may never forget. Or it could involve name-calling that breaks the other partner down.
- Showing contempt: Assuming an air of superiority and lack of respect for your partner. Not caring if you hurt feelings by acting like you have the answers while your spouse is ignorant. (1)
To fight fair, you need developed communication skills so that you don’t turn to destructive behaviors to make your point. You can learn these relationship communication skills together if you both want to improve your marriage.
In some relationships, the fights go too far with abusive or threatening behaviors such as:
- Throwing things or hitting things
- Physical fighting with your partner or children
- Threatening the well-being of your partner or children
When one spouse acts in an abusive manner, the other spouse needs to seek counseling from a domestic abuse organization or obtain a domestic violence protective order from an attorney.
Signs of Healthy Relationships
Happy couples talk through what a fight means. They respectfully listen to the other person’s point of view and make eye contact to show their care despite the disagreement. They don’t focus on and make their fight about the other person. Instead, in healthy arguments, couples fight fairly by focusing the discussion on the issue at hand.
A healthy couple considers the emotions of the other person while fighting. They each let the other person feel heard before stating their point of view. And eventually, couples that resolve issues and fight in a healthy way must compromise to find a place of peace.
They understand that a more significant issue exists than “winning” the argument. Instead, they hope to “win” by creating a healthy and happy marriage!
They also know that refusing to compromise doesn’t ever really work. “Winning” the argument may feel good in the moment, but watching as resentment builds in their spouse doesn’t.
Communication Styles and Fighting
According to the John Gottman website, gottman.com,
Conflict is inevitable in every relationship. Psychologist Dan Wile says it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unresolvable problems.” However, Dr. Gottman has found that nearly 1/3 of all conflicts can be resolved with the right approach.
The popular approach to conflict resolution, advocated by many marriage therapists, is to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, listen to what they say, and communicate with empathy that you understand their perspective.”
Often, this approach is a short answer to a long process of learning how to manage conflict in your marriage. If you both stay committed to learning how to have a healthy fight, you may not need a relationship coach, mental health help from a clinical psychologist, or couples therapy.
However, many couples report that they can’t stop fighting, even with help. While most couples understand that some fighting is healthy and to be expected, others realize that they can’t go on in their relationship.
Beyond Counseling: Finding Solutions
When your life becomes only about trying to keep your spouse happy, and the conflict is more than you can bear, it’s time to explore options.
As partners, love and care for each other is part of your vows. If your spouse refuses to work on their conflict issues and you find yourself doing all the work to keep even a basic level of civility, your spouse may be taking advantage of your good nature. In this case, only you can truly see how little the other person cares about your marriage.
And if you try to avoid fighting because you’re afraid of your spouse, it’s time to get a protective order and find help from others who have faced abusive relationships and found a way out. It may take time and wisdom, but you can find a way out with assistance.
Even if there is no physical violence or threats, if your spouse treats you with overt disrespect and a lack of care, it may be time to talk with a counselor or take a break. Whether you separate or take a few weeks’ vacation, you need time to consider where your lives are going together.
Journaling, praying, meditating, or talking with trusted friends can help you find the resolve to keep fighting for your relationship or decide it’s time to move on.
We Can Help
If you’ve decided that your relationship can’t continue and that your life needs to be apart from your spouse, we can help protect your rights.
Separation and divorce in North Carolina can be complex, even more so if your spouse is contentious and won’t fight fairly. However, there are laws in our state to protect you from domestic abuse, rights to spousal support, alimony, child support, and more.
Give us a call at Plekan Law to find out how we can help you as you move forward in this journey. We are here to help you understand the law and fight for your personal and marital rights.