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Fighting in relationships: How often is normal?

In any relationship, disagreements and arguments are bound to occur. But how often is normal, and what defines healthy fighting? We will answer these questions and more in this article.

Relationship Expert Amy Clark June 16, 2023 • 5 minutes read
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Arguments and fights are an inevitable part of any relationship. While this can be a source of stress and anxiety for couples, it’s important to remember that fighting in relationships is normal. 1

In this article, we will delve into the frequency of fights in relationships, determine what is considered normal, and explore whether fighting can be healthy or detrimental to a relationship.

Check out our guide on dealing with conflicts and challenges in relationships for further insights on effective conflict resolution techniques.

How often do couples fight?

The frequency of fighting in relationships varies from couple to couple. According to a recent YouGov poll conducted from April 29 to May 5, 2022, involving 1,000 U.S. adults in serious relationships, it was found that arguments are a common occurrence for most couples. 1

Here are the key findings from the poll:

These findings suggest that there is no single universal pattern for how often couples fight. However, it’s important to note that these results are based on self-reported data and may not represent the entire population accurately.

If you find yourself fighting all the time, check out these tips on how to stop fighting in a relationship.

How often is normal?

We can conclude from the data of the YouGov poll that “normal” is anything between a few times a year to a few times a week. 1 Of course, it depends on the couple and their individual personalities. While some couples may be comfortable with more frequent arguments, others may feel it’s too much.

Although we cannot state a definitive number of how often it is normal to fight in relationships, research shows that chronic conflict and stress can have a negative impact on mental health, physical health, and long-term relationship stability. 3

So if you find yourself in a relationship with frequent arguments, it may be worth considering ways to improve communication, address underlying issues, and seek professional help if necessary.

Discover helpful tips on how to navigate conflicts in your relationship.

Is it healthy to fight in a relationship?

Yes and no - It all depends on how you handle conflict in your relationship. 4 Constructive arguments can provide an opportunity for both partners to express their opinions, needs, and concerns openly. It allows for a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives and can lead to growth and problem-solving as a couple.

However, constant or intense fighting within a relationship is not healthy. Chronic or unresolved conflicts can erode trust, create emotional stress, and damage the overall well-being of both individuals involved. 3 Frequent and aggressive arguments may indicate deeper issues within the relationship that need to be addressed

The key lies in how conflicts are managed and resolved. Couples who employ effective communication strategies when facing conflicts generally have stronger and healthier relationships. 5 So instead of focusing on how often you fight in your relationship, focus on how to effectively handle the arguments.

Learn how to fight fair in a relationship.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fighting

How do you know if your fighting is healthy or unhealthy? Here’s a handy guide to help you figure it out:

1. How you talk: In healthy fights, you and your partner communicate with respect. You listen to each other, share your feelings honestly, and try to understand each other’s point of view. Unhealthy fights involve yelling, name-calling, or ignoring each other’s thoughts and feelings.

2. Working toward solutions: Healthy fights focus on problem-solving. You both work as a team, looking for compromises and ways to resolve the issues at hand. Unhealthy fights are more about winning or proving you’re right, leading to blame and no progress.

3. Handling emotions: In healthy fights, you manage your emotions in a healthy way. You express how you feel without getting overly angry or hurtful. Unhealthy fights involve intense emotional outbursts, holding grudges, or trying to manipulate each other’s feelings.

4. Respect and empathy: Healthy fights show respect and empathy for each other. You value each other’s feelings and opinions, even if you disagree. Unhealthy fights involve disrespect, dismissing each other, or trying to control through emotional manipulation.

5. Frequency and intensity: Healthy fights happen occasionally and are manageable. You address the conflicts in a timely manner and work toward resolution. Unhealthy fights are frequent and intense, leaving you both feeling drained, hurt, or unsafe.

Do you want to improve communication in your relationship? Find out how to effectively communicate as a couple and maintain a healthy relationship.


Secrets to a healthy relationship: Books every couple should read

It's no secret that a healthy relationship is key in a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship. This list of books about healthy relationships will help you learn how to communicate better, resolve conflict, and deepen your connection. From classic self-help books to more modern reads, these titles will give you the tools you need to build a strong and healthy relationship.

  1. Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships
  2. Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of Every Healthy Relationship
  3. Love More, Fight Less: Communication Skills Every Couple Needs: A Relationship Workbook for Couples
  4. Infidelity Recovery Workbook for Couples: Tools and Exercises to Rebuild Your Relationship
  5. Healthy Me, Healthy Us: Your Relationships Are Only as Strong as You Are

References

  1. Gil-Rivas, V., Greenberger, E., Chen, C., & Montero y López-Lena, M. (2003). Understanding depressed mood in the context of a family-oriented culture. Adolescence, 38(149), 93-109.
  2. YouGov PLC (2022). Relationship Arguments Poll April 29 - May 5, 2022. today.yougov.com
  3. Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., & Powers, S. I. (2009). Romantic Partners’ Coping Strategies and Patterns of Cortisol Reactivity and Recovery in Response to Relationship Conflict. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. doi.org
  4. Byrne, M., Carr, A., & Clark, M. (2004). The efficacy of behavioral couples therapy and emotionally focused therapy for couple distress. Contemporary Family Therapy, 26(4), 361-387. doi.org
  5. Gable, S. L., Impett, E. A., Reis, H. T., and Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 87, 228–245.
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Relationship Expert

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer who writes about relationships, marriage, and family. She has been happily married for over ten years and loves her husband and three kids. Before …

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