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How much fighting is healthy/normal/destructive?

Published on February 12, 2010 by firstshieldtrio

My husband and I fight.....I'm the instigator...I guess I'm wondering how much other couples really fight. You don't generally see it on display. I always assume everyone else gets along beautifully. I'm a bit obsessed with making sure this marriage lasts forever, and I'm worried when I start nagging or we start fighting I am sending it (slowly) to its doom! How much do you fight? Do you think some fighting is healthy? When is it destructive? What happens when every fight is the wife yelling and the husband playing the silent card? Is it possible to have a "healthy fight"?


Anyone you spend as much time with as a husband and wife do are bound to argue, disagree, and create friction. That's a healthy, livable, understandable fact of life. However, the frequency and intensity of the arguments are equal only to their context. For example, if you're arguing 2 or 3 times a week at a high intensity there is an issue. If you're arguing about being late for dinner and it's quick and easily forgotten that's okay, but if your arguing about a fundamental life belief like politics or religion and it lingers and bothers you, that's not okay.

In a nutshell, spontaneous, emotional, rare arguments that are forgotten as quickly as they begin is healthy. Calculated, instigated, frequent arguments that stick around and bother you both are not okay.

Also, you said you're the instigator. I would suggest that if you regularly instigate the arguments that you may have some control issues, or some gravitation towards drama which might need to be worked out in therapy.

It depends. Couples handle conflict differently, some fight passionately, some talk rationally, and some avoid the issue and sort of give in to each other. Apparently either method can work so long as you're both on the same page. It sounds like you and your husband argue differently and need to work out a way to resolve your conflicts that you both like. It's hard because you can't squelch yourself if you need to fight and you have to respect his desire to stay calm.

If you can stop nagging, do it. Nagging doesn't get guys to do anything. It just makes things unpleasant.

It's also important to have more good intereactions than bad. So if you are fighting, you need to have times when you're having fun together or just talking or sitting peacefully. One thing you can do to make your fights better is just try to set up dates together where you don't argue or talk about difficult things. Also, if you're not too mad or anything, having sex is a great way to prevent arguments. It's hard to be mad at a guy who's made you happy the night before.

Another thing to consider is what happens when you fight. If every little thing turns ugly and if you escalate a lot, you're in trouble. Try to avoid generalizing (you always, you never...). Focus on one thing at a time when you argue, don't bring in everything but the kitchen sink. Don't insult each other. Show some respect when you argue. Try to bring things back down sometimes - show you're listenting or apologize or stop interrupting or even tell him to listen to you.

Hope this helps.

Yes, there is a difference between having a healthy fight and a non-healthy one. I've been in 3 extreme situations with different boyfriends. In the first, my boyfriend and I fought everyday to the point of screaming and throwing things at each other. We ended up hating each other's guts. Just the idea of seeing him made me angry. Obviously a very unhealthy amount of fighting. In the second, my boyfriend and I never fought. Ever! He's was very laid back as was I. We got along, but maybe a little too well. It was like there was no passion or caring in our relationship and it actually got boring being with him after a while. Not fighting is unhealthy too. My current boyfriend and I do fight occasionally. I think this is the normal healthy amount of fighting where you're expressing yourself. Healthy fights are always about what you're feeling and not about what's happening. It's not about "you left the dishes in the sink" it's really about "I feel like you're taking me for granted because I don't see you putting in as much effort to clean up as me." So whenever you fight it should always be you saying how you feel. Try not to yell, but it's okay if you need to express yourself that way because it's better than holding on to pent up negative feelings.

I have to say, I don't think there's a healthy or unhealthy subject to fight about. What matters is how you handle the subject you disagree about, whether it's the dishes, wanting to be sure he loves you, how to raise your kids, what you should spend money on, your mother-in-law, or some more serious subject.

Yeah, I know I have emotional problems from past relationships that are affecting my current relationship. It seems I get into arguments that escalate into all other unrelated items. I need help too !!!