Bickering is a normal part of every marriage. The important thing is to be sure you are also communicating effectively. Learn how to identify healthy bickering versus arguing that signals a bigger relationship problem.

Bickering Can Lead to Greater Understanding

When two people are together for long enough, there will inevitably be moments when they disagree with each other, and argue about that disagreement. As counterintuitive as it might seem, this kind of bickering is, in fact, healthy. When we argue, we communicate things that make us unhappy. When done effectively, it can help develop a greater understanding between partners and lead to a stronger relationship.

While you should not assume that bickering means the end of the relationship, it is important to notice when it becomes the go-to method of communication. This can be an unhealthy sign of communication breakdown.

Know the Difference Between Bickering and Unhealthy Arguing

How can you tell the difference between normal bickering and a serious relationship problem? Here are a few tips.

The Majority of Your Communication Should be Positive and Productive

If you tend to bicker more often than not, that can be a sign that there is a problem. While regular bickering is normal, most of the communication in your relationship should not be negative. When you and your partner find yourselves consistently arguing, there is likely a bigger, underlying issue at play that cannot be effectively resolved through bickering.

You Should (Eventually) Be Able to Discuss the Disagreement Calmly

In the heat of the moment, it is often difficult to have a productive conversation. We often resort to arguing when we are stressed, sometimes about something that has little to do with the topic of the argument. When you are in this heightened state, it can be impossible to come to a resolution. It is OK to end an argument before reaching a resolution, as long as you can amicably revisit the issue at a later time.

Placing Blame and Adding Insults Is Not Healthy

It is unhealthy for partners to continuously place blame on the other for problems in the relationship. Accusations come from a place where we are unable, or unwilling, to see our own part in an undesirable outcome. Relationships are partnerships, and both partners should be able to openly discuss the roles they play in creating a problem.

If bickering includes insulting (name calling, or cutting the person down in a “bullying” manner), this is unhealthy. Insults are often deployed with the intention of hurting the other person. They are meant to be a distraction from the problem at hand, and indicate a lack of respect for the victim, and for the relationship.

Bickering Should Not Ruin Your Entire Day

If you find that you are unable to “shrug off” an episode of bickering and continue on with your day, it is likely a sign of a bigger relationship problem. While bickering is a result of disagreement, the things we bicker about tend to be less consequential. For example, we might bicker about how a partner does the laundry. This problem is trivial, and can be solved through effective communication, even if it is not solved immediately. The things you and your partner bicker about should not hang on your shoulders all day, or distract you from other tasks. If after a disagreement you feel unable to take on the day, there is likely a bigger problem you need to deal with.

Having “Off-Limits” Topics Can Be Dangerous

There are certain topics in a relationship that are more volatile than others. However, be careful about making any topic “off-limits” just because you think it might lead to an argument. Oftentimes, these are the subjects that are the most important to discuss, as they are attached to strong feelings. If you find yourself avoiding certain topics in order to avoid an argument, that is a problem. Instead of avoiding the topic, search for a healthy way to address it.

3 Tips for Better Communication with Your Partner

Communication is key to a healthy relationship. Here are three tips to help you do it more effectively.

#1: Be Aware of Your Partner’s Needs
Sharing a life together means developing patterns, routines, and simply getting comfortable with each other. A negative side effect of this is “turning off” when it comes to noticing the ever-changing needs of our partners. If everything in the routine seems to be going smoothly, we might not notice that our partner had a bad day, or that you have not had quality one-on-one time in a while. Pay attention to your partner, talk to them, and be aware of how things in their life are going beyond your relationship. When you are aware of your partner, you are in a better position to offer help and support when they need it, and to receive that help and support in return.

#2: Do Not Make Assumptions
Communication is two-part; it involves expressing yourself, and listening to your partner. In long-term relationships, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we assume we know what our partner’s reaction will be, so we do not bother to listen. This is a trap. When you do not listen to your partner, you are rarely able to resolve a problem.

#3: When It Comes to Big Discussions, Be Flexible
We all have our own communication strengths and weaknesses. Be flexible about how you communicate with your partner. Talking about big issues in a relationship is stressful, and there are many methods to do it other than a long, serious sit-down. You can discuss your relationship problems through text, email, or with a relationship counselor. Conversations can be short or long, and it can be healthy to take a break between these more serious talks.

Does Couples Counseling Work?

Couples counseling is a healthy way to work through problems in your marriage. It is not just for couples on the brink of a break-up. Couples therapy can be used to reinforce a relationship by finding techniques to resolve conflict and strengthen communication. Find local couples counseling at the Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center. Contact us today by calling (501) 222-3463 to learn more about our helpful services.

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