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What Do You and Your Partner Fight About?

Arguing, fighting, bickering, sniping — any of these can ruin a relationship.

If your answer is “we never fight,” I might believe you but I’d be inclined to suspect that one of you is simply conflict-avoidant and usually just gives in to the other. Two people spending a great deal of time together, living together, can’t help but disagree about some things, even if it’s just how often to change the kitchen sponge.

Usually, fights or conflicts in general, are about lifestyle choices that personally mean a great deal to the individual: “I don’t like that you wear such revealing blouses; they embarrass me!” or “Do you have to spend every Saturday afternoon on the golf course? I want to do something together!”

When I was doing couples counseling, I would often hear “We’re always fighting.” Yes, always. I truly can’t imagine such a situation for more than one day. One of the two enjoys fighting or neither is smart enough to find a good compromise… or someone made a poor choice of partner! I remember a boyfriend I had who ended the relationship because “you won’t fight with me.” I really had to think long and hard while I mourned his absence. Was that a fault in me?

I decided it was a choice on my part not to fight, definitely not as a source of recreation or pleasure. I was certainly never a doormat but fighting seemed a useless endeavor. I’d rather spend that time on my own until the bad feelings passed or thinking about a solution to the stalemate.

In the many promotional emails I receive are publicity releases for people and products that are relationship-oriented. This week’s haul included three that are relevant here.

Surveying 1700 individuals who are or have been in long term relationships, Relish, a relationship coaching company, found that 53% of people say their partner’s use of their mobile phone “impacted” their relationship. Respondents report having about 15% less sex since March 2020 when the COVID lockdown began. (Don’t ask me how that percentage was calculated. It’s in their PR release.) And 68% of respondents who broke up this year believe it might have been due to COVID-19.

On the design front, the biggest source of conflict when contemplating home redecorating is budget, with 24% of 1000 cohabiting couples queried disagreeing. The second most common source of conflict was furniture buying, with couches the most argument-inducing item. (If this is your area of disagreement, for more information on the cause of redecorating quarrels and some possible solutions see this webpage.)

If your decorating disagreements get really bad, you might be disheartened by a study done by MyJobQuote, which surveyed 2000 former couples asking whether home improvement tasks had directly contributed to their divorce and the main reason for the arguments causing the marital rift. Some findings: Going over budget and procrastination were the most common reasons ex-couples argued. A whopping 78% of ex-couples argued while or about assembling flat-pack furniture. (The moral here would be don’t buy from Ikea!)

So what do you and your partner argue about? Couches? Having less sex? Whatever it is, if you don’t enjoy fighting (isn’t it amazing that some people do?) is there a compromise you two can negotiate while the issue is not red hot? Would a mediator be helpful? Seeing a couples counselor is not an act of desperation but often a problem-solving solution.