While arguing on a daily basis isn’t exactly an indicator of a strong relationship, there’s one issue which is even more dangerous for couples: ongoing silence. Although disagreements are rarely fun, they’re almost always necessary. After all, if one person is unhappy about the way things are going, it’s essential that they speak up. Otherwise, their discontentment will fester, either causing them to erupt or disengage from the relationship entirely down the road.
Why Arguing is Actually Healthy in Relationships
Disagreements Can Strengthen Communication
Voicing your thoughts and feelings in a relationship is healthy-it's a form of connection. Think of it this way: if your partner doesn’t know your unhappy about something, how can they be expected to help fix it? I hear a lot “well he should know, I shouldn't have to tell him” . Maybe. But this attitude is a losing strategy for getting what you want. We have to teach our partners how to treat us-that's the cold hard truth.
Both people involved in a committed, long-term union have a responsibility to be transparent with their loved one when something is bothering them. Of course, we’re not talking about little things, like forgetting to fold the laundry (though these issues may demand their own conversations, too), but rather larger issues such as not feeling fully supported by your partner.
Why So Many People Stay Silent
There are many reasons why someone may avoid approaching an issue. For one, they may be unsure of how to communicate their feelings. Sometimes, there may be a whole set of circumstances that have caused you to feel as if you’re drifting apart from your partner, so you may struggle to pinpoint and therefore bring up one single issue.
In other cases, the individual may try to convince themselves that the issue really isn’t a big deal. They have developed the coping skill of avoiding conflict past the point of its usefulness. They’ll avoid talking about it because they don’t want to start a fight. Yet, the disagreement needs to happen. Otherwise, you’ll head down a path where you never end up addressing anything at all with your significant other. As a result, you’ll grow further and further out of sync.
How to Speak Up
Voicing your feelings can seem daunting at first. Thus, the best approach is to start with something small. Instead of saying that you’re not getting the support you need from your partner in general, you might mention something about how their lack of enthusiasm for a work accomplishment hurt your feelings. Of course, this is just one example – there are many possible ways to open up the lines of communication.
What’s important here is to avoid casting all blame on one party or another. Chances are, issues have arisen as a result of many factors – including one person’s hesitation to speak up sooner. Rediscovering how to communicate can therefore be a slow process, but it’s one that’s worthwhile and can ultimately save your relationship.
If you suspect that you and your partner have issues which have gone overlooked for too long, Chuck Beardsley LCSW can help you restore healthy communication practices in your relationship. As an experienced couples’ counselor, Chuck establishes a roadmap for individuals to move forward together in a way that’s conducive to both partners’ satisfaction. Learn more about how approach to helping couples heal here, or call (908) 274-3189 to set up an appointment.