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Is our fighting 'normal' or is our relationship in trouble?

Posted July 25

It may be news to you, but some arguments are healthier than others (yes, there are healthy ways to fight with each other). And the way you fight can tell you a lot about your relationship.

If your typical fighting methods tend to look more like these seven healthy behaviors, don’t worry — your relationship is healthy and on the right track. If the two of you use any of the seven unhealthy arguing behaviors, you’ve got a chance to improve and become healthier fighters.

Unhealthy: When it comes to fights, anything goes

Healthy: You’ve set ground rules for arguments

As a couple, you need to establish some ground rules. Both of you should look back on past fighting mistakes and use those regrets to form how you and your partner argue.

For example, you can decide not to interrupt each other when someone else is explaining their perspective. Or you can establish which topics count as "low blows" and keep those topics out of the argument.

Once you have your ground rules set, stick to them even when things get really frustrating or heated.

Unhealthy: You avoid bringing up tricky decisions

Healthy: You tackle big decisions head-on, even if they’ll cause an argument

Avoiding decisions just to avoid a fight is a big risk to any healthy relationship. Decisions about children, intimacy expectations, where to live and many more take lots of time and understanding.

Waiting until the last moment to make the decision doesn’t give you (or your spouse) the chance to explore all the options and understand what you and your partner really want. Do your relationship a favor and bring up potentially tough topics when things are calm and the deadline isn’t looming.

Unhealthy: You lose control of your emotions during a fight

Healthy: You have hold of your emotions while fighting

In the heat of the moment, arguments can get loud and hysterical. If shouting happens a lot between you two, improvement is definitely possible. Couples who have healthy fights don't let their emotions overrun reason, compassion and understanding.

Unhealthy: You lose respect for your partner while fighting

Healthy: You still respect your partner even though you disagree

In unhealthy arguments, two people communicate disrespectfully by talking down to each other, being sarcastic, name-calling and taking cheap shots. It’s completely healthy for couples to disagree with one another, but don’t resort to hurtful comments while arguing.

Respect each other no matter the topic you are discussing.

Unhealthy: You know you're right

Healthy: You keep an open mind while fighting

In unhealthy arguments, couples fight to prove they’re right. In healthy arguments, couples fight to resolve a problem and return to common ground. Focusing on how to prove your point will only break things, instead of repairing them.

Instead, keep an open mind while fighting, let your pride go and really consider your partner’s side of things.

Unhealthy: You fight through phones and screens

Healthy: You fight in person

Lots of our conversations happen through texting, emailing and social media. But when it comes to arguing with your partner, it’s much more productive to handle things in person.

“When two parties argue face to face, they see each other’s body language, intonations and can better know how their words are affecting the other,” said psychotherapist Garth Mintun. “There is less left to the imagination, hence less misunderstanding and misinterpretation which often escalates conflict and fallout.”

Unhealthy: Having an "everyone for themselves" mindset

Healthy: Your mindset is "we’re a team"

Ultimately, the two of you are a team, no matter what you disagree about. Never lose that big picture, especially when you're frustrated.

When you keep the big picture in mind, you don’t want to do or say anything that could have a damaging, lasting effect. With a team-oriented mindset, you’ll remember your love for your sweetheart trumps anything you disagree on.

If your fighting techniques are more on the unhealthy side, don't worry — that's definitely something you and your honey can work on. Start now to work towards a healthier and happier relationship.

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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