13 Normal Fights Even Happy Couples Have
Every couple fights and the ones who don’t fess up to it are lying. Here’s how to stop getting stuck in the same old arguments.
“Are you hiding something?”
The short answer to this question is usually “yes.” It’s not because we necessarily want to lie to our partners or that we’re inherently dishonest but rather that we think telling little white lies, or withholding the truth, will prevent a huge fight. Unfortunately, people can often tell when you’re being less than truthful and the fight soon becomes about that. “Based on my research we’ve found that many people tell white lies to their partner and while the majority of people say that white lies are not okay they still find excuses to say them,” says Jason B. Whiting, Ph.D, LMFT, professor of marriage and family therapy at Texas Tech University and author of Love Me True: Overcoming the Surprising Ways We Deceive in Relationships. The antidote? Honesty. “Telling the truth, even if it’s hard in the moment, will strengthen trust and make you closer in the long run,” he says.
The silent treatment—rare is the couple that hasn’t had this fight-pretending-not-to-be-a-fight. But even though you’re not yelling at each other, or even saying a harsh word, this fight can be just as damaging. This is because the silent treatment allows resentments to build and fester, says Erika Boissiere, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco. “Silence is a wedge that will drive more distance between you the longer it goes on,” she says. “If you need something from your partner, you must request it. Your partner cannot mind-read your unspoken expectations. It is your job to ask for what you need in a kind, compassionate way.” Don’t miss these behaviors that are secretly sabotaging your relationships.
“Stop throwing the past in my face!”
It’s normal to look for patterns in behavior, it can help you learn what to expect from others, yet constantly bringing up past mistakes is a sore spot for many couples. How do you decide when to forgive and forget and when it’s important to remember? “You can’t expect that when one person does something reckless, threatening, or destructive that their partner will just get over it,” says Wendy Brown, clinical member of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists and author of Why Love Succeeds. “Their worries, trauma, and concerns must be addressed before you can move on.” This doesn’t mean that this fight has to be an endless round robin of accusation, hurt, apology, and resentment though. “You need to look for ways to openly discuss the past in a calm way—a therapist can be an impartial third party to help you do this,” she says. Read on for the 11 daily habits of couples in happy relationships.