Is arguing good for a healthy marriage?

A new survey is sure to confirm just what many a married couple have long suspected.

Arguing once a week can be the secret to strong, happy unions – provided the arguing isn’t of the abusive variety.

Conducted in India, the study of married couples found that 44 per cent of pairs believe that fighting ‘helps keep the lines of communication open’.

The findings echo those from Western countries that show fighting and addressing problems constructively makes for a more stress-free relationship than bottling things up.

William Doherty, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science, told that it’s important to remember that the findings do not condone fighting, nor do they ignore the fact that arguing can be a fast-track to relationship downfall.

While some fighting can be constructive and beneficial, not all arguing is the same – destructive, abusive and bitter rows are certainly not the stuff of healthy relationships.

‘What the studies have shown is that it’s not so much whether couples get angry but how they handle it’, he said.

The expert’s warnings echo those of the Gottman Relationship Institute, which last year said destructive arguing is a fast track to a break-up.

‘What the studies have shown is that it’s not so much whether couples get angry but how they handle it’

Other experts see arguments as the best way to deal with issues rather than hiding them and developing resentment.

Bernie Slutsky, a marriage counselor in St Louis Park, Minnesota, told the newspaper: ‘At least they’re trying to reach the other person. Sometimes it’s a case of, “You’re not listening to me so I’m going to tell you louder,” and we have to tone that down.

‘But it’s still better than if they just sit there and stonewall each other. That’s a lot more destructive.’

He says that fighting in front of children can even be a good thing – provided the irritation is dealt with respectfully and couples are able to show kids that they have moved on quickly and positively.

There’s even a strategy to a healthy argument.

‘A soft start-up is the best way’, according to Professor Doherty, who says that a hard opener – attacking or blaming, for example – immediately puts a partner on the defensive.

by Susan Floyd


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