Couples have to learn to argue.

I’m serious. There is a need to know how to best to argue (and I’m not talking about how to win the argument) just as there is no need to fear arguments. My wife and I were a couple years into our marriage before we perfected how best we could argue (granted, of course we hit the occasional bump in our grand plan). Part of it was a matter of taking stock of who we were, temperamentally, and how we could best get our points across.

Yet I find this sentiment of young couples being afraid to argue. They’d never say they were afraid; no, instead you hear them bragging about how they “never fight” as if that’s a bragging point. “We never fight.” Yeah, yeah. The two of you have so much in common, are so in sync, that there is never any disagreements. The two of you are so simpatico that you practically finish each other’s sentences. These are the kind of people who would say their favorite hobby is hanging out with the other. You know what he wants and he knows what you want before you have to even open your mouth. Right.

I hate to be cynical (well, one, no I don’t and two, is it really cynicism if I have years of reality backing up the case), but these folks, while intending to portray their relationship as idyllic, in fact point out a serious flaw in their relationship. More often than not, one person or the other is subverting their emotions or wants in order to not rock the boat of the relationship. They are not being or revealing themselves because they are so insecure about the relationship. And, if the “we never fight” really is the case, then it is just as likely that one or both partners aren’t in a relationship, as much as they have built an altar to themselves.

Look, arguments happen. If you are passionate, if you have a worldview, if you care, if you get angry, you will have arguments. They aren’t the end of the world, they are quite the norm. If you never argue, how do you learn to resolve issues? If you never argue, it will come as a shock to you, your world, and how you see your relationship when you do actually fight. Because you will fight. You can’t just people please in order to avoid arguments. Arguments also serve as release valves or else tensions build up and you just snap (“I’m telling you, officer, one minute he’s saying something absolutely stupid and the next minute the lamp got smashed over his head. I don’t know what happened.”)

Argue while dating to know what you’re getting into (I have found that watching your significant other drive during rush hour traffic will give you a fair idea of what they will be like in an argument). Arguing doesn’t mean call them names: that only inflicts damage and remember that things said can’t be unsaid. Nor is the goal to win every argument. You may have to learn to minimize your own “ass-iocity” during a fight. Sometimes you have to give in and learning the art of compromise is part of building a long lasting relationship. Arguing effectively is a vital part of communicating, and communication is the lifeblood of relationships.

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