Why it’s okay to argue (actually disagree)
Conflict doesn’t have to be the kiss of death to your relationship, it could be the key to growth and transformation.
This may sound like a crazy idea coming from a Marriage & Family Therapist…I know conventional wisdom says that a happy relationship is one that flows effortlessly, there is never a harsh word or emotional upset, and neither person needs to verbalize their needs or desires because their partner already knows them and how they want to be treated. Naturally, we think, “See how compatible we are? We never disagree!” Conflict is an inevitable fact of life. While disagreements are not usually an enjoyable aspect of a relationship, especially if they are severe and occurring frequently, it is really a matter of “how” you manage conflict vs. avoiding conflict at all costs or believing it will be the kiss of death to your relationship.
When two people start dating, they often spend their time seeing all the desirable qualities and common interests they each have and share, which leads to forming a bond and deciding whether to be “a couple.” Often people(temporarily) put their individual desires, interests, needs to the side to focus on the budding relationship. However, sooner or later as the relationship matures, each person and who they really are shows up and differences emerge. I view disagreements as being emblematic that the relationship should involve two healthy, well defined individuals, who are willing and able to stand up for their desires and needs rather that sacrificing themselves for the sake of the relationship. The denial of our individual wants and dreams will ultimately create tension in the relationship because one or the other person will feel stifled and unfulfilled. Conflict that is not brought out into the daylight often builds up and becomes too big to manage effectively. And then, when it is revealed usually a lot of negative emotions have also been building up that need to be resolved and healed.
My goal as a Couples therapist is to assist couples in finding effective strategies for managing conflict before conflict ruins their bond. This allows the couple to grow with the inevitable challenges that life brings and bring vitality to each person which flows into the relationship.