Dealing with relationship arguments

In even the most harmonious relationship, arguments are bound to happen from time to time. This is quite normal. But sometimes arguments can turn into slanging matches that leave you red in the face or sobbing into a pillow. The Mix have put together some starting points to help you navigate an argument.

A young couple is sitting at a bay window holding eachother. They are talking about relationship arguments. This is a full-body image.

Why are you arguing?

With patience, basic communication skills and honesty, you can learn how to deal with an argument. Look at the reasons behind your clashes to see what your triggers are, both individually and as a couple. “Was it insecurity that made you lash out? Do they make you feel neglected or jealous in some way?” says Sally Brampton, Sunday Times agony aunt. “Often the things that start arguments are more to do with us as a person and little to do with the topic that’s actually being argued.”

Dealing with sensitive issues and bad moods

If you have a sensitive issue or taboo topic on your mind, try to get it out in the open before it becomes the elephant in the room. Physical factors can also play a huge part, so don’t underestimate the effect of exhaustion or hormones on a situation. Warn your partner if you’re not in the best of moods so they don’t take it personally and can give you the space you need. 

Common relationship arguments

Often couples fight over day to day problems such as money, sex or housework to fight about a deeper issue in their relationship. So rows about dishes in the sink are often really about respect, and arguments about sex can actually highlight someone’s needs for affection. Until you deal with the real issue, you’re likely to keep bickering. If one person seizes the opportunity to bring up everything they’ve got against you, it can really drag an argument out. Don’t get bogged down in meaningless detail, and avoid absolutes. Retorts such as “You always push me away,” might feel true at the time, but are often an exaggeration and will only result in a defensive reaction. If you have a legitimate grievance, don’t demean it by making it bigger than it needs to be.

One common argument can revolve around sex and not being in sync about what you need. To help with that, check out this article!

How to avoid relationship arguments

So, you’ve been kept up all night by your partner’s snoring – reasonable grounds for annoyance, perhaps. But did you think to explain that before flying off the handle? Couples could stop an argument if both parties just remembered to communicate openly, rather than relying on mind-reading. 

Remember, not every argument has to lead to divorce. At their best, they’re a chance to level with your partner and get everything out into the open. But when tempers flare, the opportunity for rational communication quickly deteriorates. “I think that the best way to argue is to sit down and try to stay calm,” says Evi, 17, from the Barnet Youth Board. “As much as you think you’re right, the other person thinks the exact same thing. There’s no right or wrong. Each person has a different point of view and, generally speaking, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of those.”

Always try to confront the real issue, not each other. If you fall into the trap of trying to win an argument, both of you will end up losing. Listen, and ensure you both have your say without being interrupted.  Lucky for you, we have just the article to help you do that!

When to say sorry

Sometimes, all a partner is looking for is an apology and if there’s no sign of that happening, the argument just escalates. “It’s normal that some people want to have the upper hand in an argument and don’t want to admit defeat,” says Akeem, 17, also from the youth board. “You can’t force someone to say they’re sorry – I think a forced ‘sorry’ has no meaning anyway. If the person is genuinely repentant and you can forgive them, the issue is not irreconcilable.”

Try not to hold any grudges

Learning to move on from past problems in your relationship is on the whole a positive move. But sometimes the matter can’t be solved in one day (see Rome for an example). Usually, a sensitive issue that is hard to get over involves a breach of trust which is more significant to one person than the other – such as a forgotten anniversary or an affair. You need to approach these subjects carefully and appreciate the feelings at stake, however insignificant they might seem on the surface. If you’re the one holding a grudge, ask yourself whether it’s worth it or is just causing you unnecessary pain.

The same stands for friends. If you want to find out how to deal with an argument with your mates, click here. 

Are you being nice to each other?

After the ‘honeymoon period’ it’s only natural that couples get more comfortable with each other, which in many ways is a beautiful thing. But familiarity can also breed contempt. Long-term partners sometimes find it easier to slip into bad habits, such as using spiteful names or threatening to break-up with you. It’s helpful to ask yourself: would I speak to my best mate like that? Think about it: if you called them every name under the sun for not noticing your new haircut, or being 15 minutes late, would they consider that acceptable? So why should your partner?

What counts as arguing too much in a relationship?

It’s fine to argue from time to time. The occasional spat can even be healthy- airing some home truths and relieving some tension. Making up can also offer a chance to reaffirm your love for each other. But in some relationships this can become an addictive and destructive pattern. If you seem to be stuck in a constant cycle of arguing and making up, you might be arguing too much in a relationship. Exactly how much could be considered too much is tricky to define. But it’s probably safe to say that if it feels like you’re arguing more often than you’re getting along, that’s a red flag for your relationship.

Do you want to understand your relationship better? Head to our relationships hub, we’ve got tons of articles there that can help. Want to share your thoughts about arguing in a relationship? Head over to our Discussion Boards and join our community.

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Liz Nicholls

Updated on 30-Oct-2021