Are These Signs of Toxic Arguing in Your Relationship?

Changing toxic behaviors to save your relationship

Posted Jun 21, 2016

My book, Why Can't Your Read My Mind?, teaches couples how to manage toxic thoughts and behaviors in loving relationships. Your relationship may be suffering the negative effects of toxic thinking if one or more of the following statements is true about the way you and/or your partner argue on a regular basis  In at least two out of three of your most recent arguments, you and your partner:

  • Often end up arguing about something other than the original problem or issue.
  • Can’t remember why your argument started.
  • Label the other negatively such as, “You’re a couch potato/lazy/selfish/downer/impossible/nag.”
  • Feel like you can’t make the other understand how you feel.
  • Say things you later regret.
  • Apologize for saying something mean to your partner even though you still believe it’s true.
  • Use words like, “you always/never/should.”
  • Bring up past issues or arguments—even ones that you thought were resolved—in a hostile way again during current arguments.
  • Have declared certain topics “off limits” during arguments but you have a hard time sticking to it.
  • Exaggerate or accuse the other of exaggerating the situation or problem.
  • End up using bad argument behavior, such as screaming, blaming, name-calling, door slamming, kicking one partner out of the house, or locking doors.
  • Feel like your partner “pushes your buttons” or says mean things on purpose to get a reaction out of you.
  • Are unable to simply discuss problems—it always turns into an argument. 

For parenting help please check out my book, 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, recommended this year by the Wall Street Journal. 

For managing toxic thoughts in loving relationships please see Why Can't You Read My Mind? 

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 23 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy.  He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert adviser, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus, 2007), Why Can't You Read My Mind?, and Liking the Child You Love, Perseus, 2009). 


Getting Unstuck: The Toxic Relatiohship. Mark Banschick, M.D,

The Five Love Languages. Gary Chapman

Why Can't You Read My Mind: Overcoming the 9 toxic thoughts that get in the way of a loving relationship. Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail? John Gottman