Fighting is a normal part of any relationship; every couple has things that they argue about. So, fighting is not automatically a sign that the relationship is bad. As long as both partners fight fair and work toward solutions, fighting can help the relationship grow stronger. However, fights that are physically or emotionally abusive are signs of deeper problems.
Fighting fair can actually help a relationship improve. This means that during a fight, both partners must have a chance to share their side without interruption. In addition, it’s important for both partners to avoid accusations and to try to see the other’s point of view. If they can do this, then both partners are able to get their feelings heard, which is the first step to solving the problem and moving the relationship forward. Therefore, it doesn't matter how often the partners fight, just that they do it in a fair manner.
For a fight to improve a relationship, it must be resolved. This doesn’t mean that one person always has to “win.” In fact, it’s better if both parties approach the fight without considering it a “win-lose” situation. Instead, they should look at a fight as an opportunity to compromise and work together. Both parties should suggest several solutions and choose one that is acceptable to each person. This type of fighting genuinely shows both partners that they have equal footing in the relationship and helps them define what matters.
Fights that are emotionally abusive are damaging to a relationship and can be a sign of a deeper problem. People who are emotionally abused often experience low self-esteem and depression. Warning signs of emotional abuse during a fight are name calling and personal attacks. In addition, if one partner tries to humiliate another during a fight, the situation is starting to get unhealthy. Finally, any threats of harm during an argument should be taken as a serious red flag and a sign that the relationship is risky.
If fights involve any form of physical abuse, the relationship has serious problems. Physical abuse causes a variety of mental and physical problems for the victim. In fact, victims of physical abuse in a relationship are more likely to binge drink and become violent themselves. They are also at more of a risk for suicide. Any person who is in a relationship that includes physical fights should seek immediate help through organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Abuse Defined
- University of Texas at Austin: Fighting Fair to Resolve Conflict
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence : DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACTS
- Larry Alan Nadig Ph.D. :Relationship Conflict: Healthy or Unhealthy?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Dating Violence
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