Can A 'Fighting Formula' Improve Your Relationship?


Couple in a field wearing boxing gloves
Is there a right and wrong way to handling conflict in your relationship?

If you're in a relationship, you've most likely had a spat or two. And according to recent research, arguments about small, nagging things may happen as often as 312 times per year. MyDaily: 'Man Down': We Interview Dan Abrams About Why He Believes Women Are Better Than Men

Some research even shows that how you handle conflict in your romantic life may have less to do with your relationship and more to do with how you were raised. But regardless of all the small arguments, or how your mother messed you up, enduring screaming matches multiple times a day with your spouse, or stonewalling your boyfriend post-argument may mean that your disagreements have gotten the better of your romance. It's helpful to know the hot button issues in relationships, and the red flags indicating that it's gone from lovey-dovey to knock-down, drag out.


The three main areas that couples argue over, according to experts, are money, sex and kids. Psychotherapist Tina Tessina, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, says that couples bicker about overspending, differing opinions on what to spend their money on, and financial infidelity. Sex brawls focus on incompatibility, or infidelity. Parenting styles and the to-have-or-not-to-have kids debate also fuels many a fire.

Tessina has also "seen splits over problems with extended family (including in-laws and exes) and of course alcoholism or other addictions." But Nancy Dreyfus, couples therapist and author of Talk To Me Like I'm Someone You Love: Relationship Repair in a Flash, says, in addition to the actual issues, how couples relate to these issues is the issue—so the content-oriented upsets around money, sex, in-laws, and the ever-popular, "I can't stand how you are with the kids" are not inherently deal-breakers if there is relatively good listening and respect in the mix.

The Fighting Formula
Now that you've uncovered some of the issues that you might be fighting over, is there a formula for exactly how much of it is normal, and how much is too much? While all couples are different, there is a baseline. "All couples fight, and the unhealthiest ones never do," says Dreyfus. "What I mean by 'unhealthy' is that an absence of conflict would mean two people who were never self-defining and therefore, never speaking—their often divergent—truths." Research shows that your relationship is in the clear if you experience four to five feel-good encounters to every less-than-pleasant one. "It's a corny analogy, but a useful one—a relationship is like a bank account: If you keep making withdrawals without consistent deposits, you are soon going to find yourself bankrupt."

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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