Is arguing healthy for a relationship?
YES. Arguing is necessary for any relationship. Unfortunately we’re programmed to consider arguing as a win-lose situation. And sometimes both partners want to win at the expense of the relationship. If you think of arguments as ways to resolve conflict, you’ll approach them differently.
Find the core. If you find yourself crying after an argument, it’s probably because you’ve surrendered your point of view (implying that you were wrong) or are upset from the stress of fighting. Always remember that your point of view is valid and should be respected and that the argument is not the sum total of the event. Pay attention instead to what’s at the core of the conflict. If you argue about who takes out the trash, you really may be saying, “Why aren’t you meeting the expectation I have of you?” Your partner or spouse may be arguing because he may be thinking, “Why do you always attack me?” Similarly, arguments about money aren’t always a criticism of your recent purchase; they may be about fear of losing a job, increased personal debt, or decreased savings.
Try these tips. To transform your arguments into creative conflicts, respect your differences but know they can be reconciled; take time out if you get angry but come back with solutions, and tell your partner that you love him or her.
—Judith Sherven, Ph.D., psychologist and coauthor of Be Loved for Who You Really Are (St. Martin’s Press, 2003), Las Vegas, Nev.