Whether you’ve been dating for six months or six years, fighting within your relationship is inevitable. You might not like arguing, you may even do anything in your power to avoid it, but the truth is that not only are flare-ups normal in relationships, they can sometimes be necessary.
Why? Because if you never communicate a disagreement with your partner over something that bothers you, then your buried anger and resentment will most likely come out in other passive-aggressive, even retaliatory ways, which only diminishes your bond. And, believe it or not, healthy forms of disagreement (aka fights that aren’t drag ‘em out screaming matches) can improve lines of communication between you and your partner. Most importantly, the way you fight can reveal certain behavioral flaws and strengths that, when dealt with effectively, can actually help strengthen your relationship.
Here are five common fights you should have in your relationship (because they’re totally normal and helpful) and how to properly navigate them.
1. Money, money, money.
Maybe it drives you nuts that your boyfriend lends cash to his slacker brother. Maybe you hate that your girlfriend insists on buying Starbucks coffee each morning instead of brewing her own at home. All these angry feelings are gold. Because fighting about money and prioritizing finances will help you learn a lot about what, and who, each of you value. Talking about money will help you both gain perspective on your future (do you want to keep buying Frappuccinos or save up for a house?) and will help you move forward together.
2. Time spent together.
Work more than 60 hours a week? Then no wonder your partner occasionally freaks out about how little time you spend together. Obviously there is nothing wrong with wanting to further your career, but there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with the person you love. This type of fight is usually a sign that one partner is feeling like he or she isn’t getting enough attention. Discussing the balance between personal and professional desires, and what it means to each of you, will help you get on the same page.
Sex is an integral part of a romantic relationship, and when a couple isn’t having regular sex then they’ve hit a vulnerable spot in their coupledom. Maybe one partner is too tired or busy to be intimate. Maybe another partner doesn’t feel her needs are being met, both emotionally and sexually. Next thing you know there are fireworks, and not the passionate kind. It’s better to hash it out instead of ignoring the sexlessness of your relationship because nothing will change without acknowledging it. However, the argument—and your sex life—needs to be resolved as swiftly and amicably as possible, perhaps through the help of a therapist. If not, the dissatisfied partner might find his or her satisfaction elsewhere.
4. Where you live.
Living together is an important step in a long-term committed relationship, but it’s natural for two people to have different opinions about where they want to put down roots. Maybe you want to live close to your parents, sticking close to home, while your girlfriend wants to move to Rome. Mamma mia! No doubt there’s going to be conflict. Location, location, location is everything, and it’s best to address it sooner than later (or before either of you buys a plane ticket).
5. How you fight.
Yes, you’re going to fight about how you fight. Maybe your partner was raised in a family where the loudest person always won the argument, which scares you off because you were raised in a household that thrived on passive aggression. Learning how to fight fair is one of the most important cornerstones of a relationship, and unfortunately/fortunately you will have to fight first before you can resolve how you fight.
The bottom line is that fighting is natural. You’re going to disagree with the person you’re with eventually. He or she will make mistakes, say and do the wrong thing, forget to do something, maybe even break a promise. And you will too. Part of your relationship is learning how to challenge each other and work through your disagreements. In the end you’ll both be better people and your relationship will grow stronger.