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4 min read

How Much Fighting is Normal in a Healthy Relationship?

Fighting couples can be funny and cute in romantic comedies, but in real life fights can lead to stress, emotional distress, and hurt feelings. However, disagreement is common, and healthy arguments can be a way to resolve conflict. How much arguing is normal in a relationship? The short answer is "it depends."

Healthy fights and how often they occur in healthy couples can look different depending on the relationship, but we'll take a look at how couples fight, what makes for healthy arguments, and when you may want to seek couples therapy for relationship difficulties.

What does unhealthy relationship fighting look like?

When couples fight fairly, it can be part of healthy communication. Couples fight over everything from household chores to the best restaurant to have a date. However, unhealthy arguments can lead to problems. Here are some key warning signs of problematic fighting:

  • Using personal attacks or hurtful words
  • Verbal disagreements daily
  • Name-calling
  • Going to bed angry
  • You avoid fighting through passive-aggression or ignoring the other partner
  • Ignoring the other partner's perspective
  • Gaslighting
  • Resentment
  • Using blame
  • Throwing things, destroying property
  • Physical violence

Fighting daily would be considered unhealthy for most couples, but the more important indicator would be how you fight. So, “How often do couples fight?” may be the wrong question to focus on. According to research, there is no one clear answer, but how we manage fundamental differences can affect our well-being and relationships.

Fighting in Healthy Relationships: The Benefits of Healthy Disagreement

Couples fight in a healthy relationship, too. The difference is that they fight healthily, using communication skills that get their point across without saying hurtful things (most of the time, anyway). Unhealthy fights rely on things like name-calling, anger, and thinking only of your perspective, while healthy fighting is about speaking your truth while also giving attention to what your partner thinks.

Fighting with your partner is fine. It's normal to fight now and then. When you fight fairly, relationship experts agree that it can offer benefits like the following:

  • Get perspective on each other's differences
  • Build resilience in your relationship
  • Avoid creating underlying issues
  • Clear the air
  • Understand how your partner feels in different situations

Tips and Strategies for Productive and Healthy Disagreement

Proper conflict management can help the average couple learn to disagree healthily and improve the mental health of both partners. Here are a few tips for helping couples argue and fight fairly in their relationship.

Listen and share, don't try to persuade.

Healthy arguments can be positive experiences if we share how we feel with proper perspective. Relationships are healthier when we don't expect to change a person, but to have them understand your thoughts. Be ready, of course, to listen to their point of view as well.

The difference between disagreeing and fighting.

Think about how you approach your partner when it comes to a fight. Disagreeing with someone and communicating honestly is completely different from approaching your partner with the intention of hurting them.

Try to stay in the present.

Don't start pulling up events from the past, no matter how tempting it may be. Keep to the current discussion, even if it has roots in past behaviors.

Healthy couples find a solution to their problems.

A healthy fight is solution-based. It's not about laying blame or making your partner feel bad. Relationships with healthy conflict management are based on sharing a problem with an open mind that is eager to problem solve and find a resolution that makes sense for both themselves and their partner.

Communication Styles and Fighting

Several communication styles can impact how couples fight. Communication styles include:

  • Aggressive
  • Passive
  • Passive-aggressive
  • Assertive

The ideal communication style is assertive when you communicate your wants and needs directly and honestly. However, it can become complicated when one partner is naturally passive, while the other is aggressive. One is passive-aggressive while the other is aggressive. Working with a private practice counselor can help those in a relationship identify their style and shift their communication styles in healthier directions.

Healthy fights never turn personal.

Fighting in a healthy relationship doesn't seek to hurt the feelings of either partner. Personal comments have no place in a healthy fight. Even if you are angry at what your partner is doing at the time, stick to the circumstances, and avoid making it about any of their attributes.

When should you seek counseling for fighting?

Too many couples in the honeymoon phase of their relationship say things like "Oh, we never fight!" The problem is that a healthy couple does fight because they should feel comfortable enough to disagree with their partner.

Communication skills are key to a healthy relationship. If you find that you are fighting with your partner in a way that is pulling you apart, or if you find that you or your partner avoid confrontation and don't fight at all, then it may be time to work with a clinical psychologist, family therapist, or licensed marriage counselor.

Are too many fights and therapy signs of a breakup?

Not always. Couples fight, but fighting doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to break up, and therapy can be a great way to avoid breakups. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, therapy can be a way to learn how to communicate more effectively, and protect the mental health of yourself and your partner. Unhealthy fights do not have to end a relationship if you take action to change.

Closing Thoughts on Healthy Fighting as a Couple

“How often should couples fight?” is a question that can be answered in any number of ways, but a healthy argument is rarely something healthy couples need to worry about. It's perfectly normal when couples argue if they engage in healthy fights that take each other's point of view and feelings into consideration.

If you feel as though your fight means something more, or is not a normal conflict (as in cases of physical or verbal abuse), you should consider reaching out for help to leave the relationship. In cases that are not abusive, but you feel that the conflict is leading to long-term issues, couples therapy in Brooklyn can be a way to learn how to better resolve conflict in your relationship.

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