Arguing with your partner is a good thing. That’s according to several experts. Dr. Bonnie Eaker is a psychologist, and she says it’s a sign you’re in a healthy relationship because it shows you’re comfortable expressing negativity without the fear of losing your partner. Clinical couples counselor Harville Hendrix says, if you’re not arguing, you’re not fully communicating but here’s the catch: You have to fight fair. So here are four tips to fight right, courtesy of Rodale Publishing.
- First, open your ears, not your mouth! Research shows that unhappy couples repeat themselves because they think it’s the only way to get their point across! When people hear the same thing over and over, they tune out. The fix: Listen to what’s being said – and respond to that before you bring up anything else.
- Another way to fight fair: don’t go for the low blows! A University of Chicago study discovered our brains have a built-in “negativity bias” – which causes us to pay more attention to bad things than good things. That's because during primitive times, our survival depended on knowing when to stay out of danger. So our brains are wired to zero in on anything “bad,” which means even if you shower your partner with compliments most of the time, the one nasty thing you say is what they’ll remember.
- Also, arguments don’t have winners. If you fixate on “winning” fights instead of finding a solution to the problem - you’ll eventually lose your partner. So find a point you can both agree on. For instance, say, “I know it bothers you when I bombard you with texts when you’re out with your friends. It’s my insecurity. But it worries me when you take forever to answer. Can we find a way to handle this so we’re both comfortable?”
- Finally: Stay connected. Couples who gently tease each other during a conflict wind up feeling more “in love” when the disagreement blows over. That’s the upshot of a Berkeley University study. That doesn’t mean using humor to criticize your partner, because if you say, “You’re so sensitive. Just kidding.” It’s not really a joke and your partner knows it. Instead, try self-deprecating humor or use funny nicknames for each other. It helps you stay connected and remember why you’re together to begin with.