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Argue With Your Partner Over Small Things Often? Science Says It’s Good For Your Relationship

Argue With Your Partner Over Small Things Often? Science Says It’s Good For Your Relationship

Relationships aren’t always easy. Arguments and disagreements are expected when two people with different life experiences, views and perspectives come together. But how often are we told that arguing with our partner means the relationship is doomed? That disagreeing often is a sign that you just aren’t compatible? Well, if you find you bicker a lot with your loved one there may be a saving grace – science says it is, in fact, a great indicator for your relationship and here’s how.

Love Isn’t An Easy Street

As much as love is portrayed as romantic and against-all-odds fantastic, the reality is that relationships and marriage takes work to cultivate and bloom. There’s so much psychological research based on why marriages fail but not nearly as much asking what actually makes marriages succeed.

It’s this perspective that has led us to believe that arguing is a negative sign of failure and incompatibility with someone we love. While extreme hurtful arguing is detrimental to each other, research suggests that a healthy relationship is one that includes disagreements on a regular basis.

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How Arguing Helps Your Relationship To Last

We all know communication is the key to any successful relationship.[1]

While most of us think of this as calmly sitting on the sofa and bringing up worries or concerns to our partner, in real life this is rarely the case.

After all, we’re all human and we all have our bad days, our bad reactions to words and situations and so arguments are bound to happen. In essence, couples who argue are communicating and this is the lynchpin to any successful relationship. Granted it may not seem like the most ideal way to communicate, but actually getting our opinions and viewpoints out is much better than keeping them to ourselves and letting them stew.

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Jonah Lehrer, author of A Book About Love, looked closely into how fighting in a relationship is actually a good thing rather than a negative.

“According to the scientists, spouses who complain to each other the most, and complain about the least important things, end up having more lasting relationships. In contrast, couples with high negativity thresholds—they only complain about serious problems—are much more likely to get divorced.”

So arguing about the little things keeps your relationship ticking over much better than saving it for what would be deemed the serious and more important stuff.

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How Not Fighting Indicates An Unhealthy Relationship

Okay, arguing from day one may be an unhealthy sign but once we settle into a relationship it’s at this time when the real dynamics start to show.

Lehrer delves deeper into research done by John Gottman, who set up the Gottman Institute dedicating reseach-based methods to strengthen relationships. Gottman’s studies have revealed that, at a certain stage of a relationship where you’re revealing your true-selves to each other, if you’re not arguing then it could be a sign that you’ve lost emotional investment in the other person.

“Gottman’s research shows that 3 years into the relationship, if you’re not fighting, that’s the indicator of an unhealthy relationship. At that point, you’re not holding in your farts anymore. You’re fully intimate. You’ve seen where they’ve got hair, you’ve smelled their morning breath. You’re not holding anything back. So if you’re not fighting, it’s often a sign of withdrawal. In a sense, you can look at complaining and fighting in an intimate relationship as just ways of showing you care.”[2]

Of course, no one should be unhappy in a relationship but emotionally intelligent arguing or even general bickering is a sign that you’re invested and willing to communicate, therefore keeping your relationship ticking over.

So, for those of you that believe arguing is a sign of impending doom for your relationship then think again. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re not only passionate about the other person and the relationship, but most importantly communication is abundant showing you a positive sign that your partnership is probably much stronger than you think.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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