Why ‘healthy disagreements’ could be the key to a happier relationship

Written by Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

We all have friends who boast about “never arguing” with their partner – but having no disagreements isn’t necessarily the good sign you might think it is.

One of the most vital components of any relationship is being able to get along. It’s one of the first things you consider when looking for a potential partner, and one of the deal breakers that might lead to the end of a relationship, too – at the end of the day, spending time with someone who you consistently butt heads with isn’t fun for anyone involved.

But getting along with your partner isn’t the same as never arguing at all – the latter of which is often held up as something to be proud of. We all know those people who boast about getting along with their partner ‘24/7’, as if not disagreeing with each other is a sign their relationship is superior or stronger than others’.

However, that’s not exactly the case. No one wants to argue, and if you’re arguing with your partner all the time, or your arguments often get out of control, it could be a sign that you need to re-evaluate your relationship. But there’s nothing bad about having the odd disagreement – in fact, it could actually make your relationship healthier in the long-run.  

“Arguments can allow both parties in a relationship to reveal their values, preferences and needs,” explains Lucy Beresford, a psychotherapist, relationship expert and broadcaster. 

“Disagreements are entirely normal, as each party negotiates within a relationship what their preferences and needs are.”

While having a disagreement may feel painful or unpleasant in the moment, it can also give both parties space to share their feelings and have constructive conversations – both of which are integral to a healthy, loving relationship.  

Disagreements allow each party to express their needs.

And while not arguing with your partner can be a sign that you’re both mature enough not to trip over small details or have a lot of compassion for each other, Beresford explains, it can also be a sign that there are issues under the surface that aren’t being addressed. “Never arguing could mean that one or both of you is afraid of conflict in an unhealthy way – fearing rejection if you speak or act authentically,” she adds.

Of course, there’s a difference between a screaming match and a healthy disagreement – and knowing how to practise the latter allows you to reap the benefits in the long-run. So, how can you tell the difference between a ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ disagreement?

“Disagreements become unhealthy when they are very one-sided or are all about blaming the other person rather than stating your preferences,” Beresford points out. “If you find yourself going round in circles having rows about the same topic over and over again, you might want to explore what lies behind the topic, as it could mean that one or both of you is not really expressing perhaps deeper issues or resentments.”

While it’s sometimes easier to pretend that things are OK when they’re not or ‘put off’ big conversations, Beresford’s words highlight the importance of tackling problems head-on. It may be uncomfortable, but it’ll benefit both you and your partner in the long run if you air any upsets or concerns you have about them or the relationship.

Indeed, despite popular opinion, disagreements and arguments are not the inherently bad things they’re painted out to be. At the end of the day, they’re just another tool for communicating with your partner – and as long as they’re done in the right way (and are not a common occurrence), they do have the power to make things better for both of you.

Images: Getty

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