Conflict in your relationship can arise over the smallest of issues, but if these small issues remain unresolved, then they have the power to ruin your relationship. Arguing with your partner is a normal part of life and relationships, and can actually be healthy if you can argue in a productive way that leads to better understanding and commitment. But if your arguments remain unresolved and you can’t get to the bottom of silly arguments, then you risk hurting your partner emotionally, and ruining your relationship.
Common arguments/ issues
The usual reasons for a couple arguing if they are married or cohabitating is related to money, work/ home/ life balance, children, housework and sex. If these issues are the trigger for ongoing conflict, then there’s likely an underlying reason for this angst. For example arguments about sex can be about feeling undesired, if it’s about housework it could be that your partner doesn’t feel respected and if it’s about money it may be that one partner feels they have all the responsibility in the relationship.
Research conducted by Relationships Australia (2011)  found that the four main reasons why relationship conflict arises is due to:
– financial stress,
– communication difficulties,
– lack of trust and
– different expectations and values.
It is interesting to note that, despite money being a key trigger for arguments, 55% of adults in a long-term relationship do not have regular time set aside to discuss financial issues.
Day to day living can instigate arguments in a couple but if you can identify what the underlying issue is and communicate this to your partner then there’s a better chance of it being resolved.
How to avoid silly arguments
1. Listen. Research has found that during arguments, couples tend to repeat themselves because they don’t feel heard. Instead of talking at each other, listen to what each other have to say and have a dialogue about it.
2. Leave the past in the past. We all come to a relationship with our own history, our own family experiences and a model of how relationships function- sometimes this is healthy and sometimes it’s not. Expecting your partner to run the house like your mother did or to abandon you like your father did isn’t helpful. If you can seem to let the past go, then seeking professional help to work through these issues may be useful.
3. Say what you need. Often arguments become personal and generalised and start to stray from the core issues. For example: “You never help me” or “You’re always home late.” Throwing these kinds of accusations at your partner is only going to get their defences up. Instead, tell your partner what you need from them. “I need you to help me cook the dinner tonight,” or “I need you home by 6pm on Wednesdays.” Your partner may not be able to meet your needs, but at least they’ll know what is expected of them rather than hearing about all the things they are doing wrong.
4. Be nice. When you resort to nasty comments or verbally abuse your partner you can cause long-lasting damage to your relationship. Put downs and emotional abuse is not acceptable and will in no way resolve the issue. It’s okay to be angry with your partner, but not to be emotionally or physically abusive.
5. Reparation. There will be times when one or both of you become too angry to proceed with a rational conversation and the argument will need to be suspended at that time. But it’s important that you revisit the issues when you are both feeling calm and can think in a more rational manner. Avoiding the conflict will only lead to more difficulty.
Arguments are a healthy part of any relationship as it provides couples with the opportunity to express themselves and be honest. It can also allow a couple to work through a difficulty and to learn from their mistakes. If you can’t argue productively and respectfully then the conflict will quickly escalate. If after trying these strategies you are still experiencing difficulties in managing the conflict within your relationship, then professional support may be required. Relationship counselling can provide couples with a safe place to practice solving conflict and to learn healthier ways to argue. You can read more about the benefits of couples counselling here.