So how do couples know if there’s too much fighting in their relationship? That depends entirely on the couple. Some people have a high tolerance for confrontation. However, others are uncomfortable with any amount of arguing, so even a moderately disagreeable partner can be difficult for them to live with. Some couples may not argue much at all, but the one or two arguments they have might be so intense that as to threaten the entire marriage. Nevertheless, for most of us, we’re probably within acceptable limits if we’re able to keep our disagreements in perspective. We don’t allow them to interfere with other aspects of our relationship. Our overall thoughts about our marriage stay positive, we don’t harbor bad feelings long afterwards, and we enjoy our partner’s company during times of peace. Additionally, if we’re able to hammer out workable solutions as a result of our arguments, then we’re probably fighting with our partner as often as we need to.
More important than how often couples argue is how they behave when they do. Specifically, we’re referring to partners’ treatment towards each other in the heat of an argument. That in large part determines whether or not our communication is effective, and by that we mean it achieves the straightforward objectives of a problem and we do it efficiently. We’re efficient when our disagreements are not drawn out longer than necessary, they don’t move on to topics that have nothing to do with the original problem, they don’t escalate to personal attacks or a rehashing of past disappointments and resentments, and both partners feel better about each other when they’ve ended.