Is it normal to argue in your romantic relationship?
It is a commonly held belief that it is normal for couples to argue.
However, arguments are only 'normal' as in they are common. Their existence still indicates a certain level of dysfunction that could be worked through to create more consistent connection and intimacy.
Unfortunately, many couples are in fact hiding behind this statement. They often fail to realise that arguments are an opportunity for growth and learning to take place, to the point that the 'need' for the argument disappears.
I do want to point out that some couples are also hiding behind the 'we never argue' kind of comment. This can be just as dysfunctional and a sign of avoidance.
When I start working with a new couple I always say that arguing is not a problem in and of itself. The main problem is if the arguments continue without a resolution. This can lead to avoidance out of fear of the upset caused by the argument. Couples don't want to upset each other and so end up treading on eggshells with resentment building up behind the scenes. It can also become a breeding ground for passive aggressive behaviour and defensiveness because individuals aren't feeling heard.
Energetically the relationship then does not feel safe. It can also lack authenticity because individuals start to hide parts of themselves.
What needs to happen in order to stop arguments from happening?
- A 'repair' attempt or another conversation needs to take place - The first and most essential thing in my experience is for a couple to come back to each other and make a repair attempt. This is another conversation where preferably both parties are able to take greater responsibility for the part they played in the argument. This is not always easy and does require swallowing the hard pill to start with, but once a couple are used to communicating in this way, it can make a huge difference. It is important to take some time out to reflect on their own behaviour and waiting until they feel calmer before having this conversation.
- Each individual needs to be able to see where and how they were sabotaging themselves and the connection with their partner. If they can see this they will also be able to see how they can do things better next time.
- Be prepared to take a closer look at where you are projecting your own weaknesses onto your partner. This is an example of the sabotage I speak of. If your partner is not as passionate as you would like them to be, ask yourself where you are not being as passionate as you could be in your life. I am yet to find many situations where our partner's behaviour is not a mirror for our own behaviour; sometimes we have to take a much closer look and be prepared to get down off our high horse!
- Often action needs to be taken by one or both parties. Depending on the topic and nature of the argument, often all that is needed is a decision to take a particular action. This action can help to provide a resolution, which in turn will help improve the trust levels in the relationship.
- Both partners need to be willing to see the topic from their partner's point of view. Even if it doesn't make sense to them, there is something that is making sense to their partner. When you are able to come from an energy of compassion this helps you get out of the 'I am right and you are wrong' type of argument. One word of warning here though, it may be that both of you aren't making sense without realising it. Our mind can make up all kinds of stories when it comes to our relationships. This is where it is really useful to have an understanding of how sabotage shows up in often very subtle and cunning ways.
- A healthy relationship with your own feelings is of paramount importance when it comes to putting a stop to arguments. When you can work through your triggers you essentially create a more intimate relationship with yourself. When you are more intimate with yourself it is far more likely that you will create this with your partner.
It is the last point above that I believe holds the most amount of weight when it comes to nipping arguments in the bud.
If you are finding that you are being reactive towards your partner, there is usually a part of yourself that is being disowned on some level. When you are able to see where and how this happening, your reactivity will naturally diminish over time. The things your partner does that usually trigger you will stop triggering you, when you do the deeper work.
The deeper work is not something to be scared of. In fact it is something that will make your life much easier. It is a way of helping you get to know yourself much better, so that the self sabotaging parts do not run the show.
This is all something I help my clients with and so if you are at the point where you know something needs to change, you can book a complimentary consultation with me here.