When it comes to marriage, relationships and arguments, there are a lot of myths out there. Here are five of the most common.

Myth 1: Good Couples Don’t Argue

The presence or absence of arguments is not a good indicator of the health of a marriage. Some couples who don’t argue are living detached, parallel lives. They’ve essentially checked out of the marriage and have given up caring. These couples are vulnerable to emotional and sexual affairs and/or divorce.

In contrast, some couples who argue vigorously, enjoy deep affection and respect – they argue with freedom because they know that the relationship is robust enough to handle it.

Myth 2: ‘Irreconcilable Differences’ Mean the Relationship is Over

Research by Dr John Gottman suggests that every couple has a number of ‘unresolvable’ arguments. Spouses keep having the same argument over and over and never seem to resolve it. The marriages that survive do so because the couple put more value on what they have in common. They learn how to tolerate their differences and work with them.

Ultimately, many of our ‘irreconcilable differences’ are simply ‘outgrown’ – for example arguments over parenting disappear as the child grows out of that stage.

Myth 3: Arguments Damage Your Relationship

The arguments that damage relationship are the ones where there is no self-regulation, where the spouses say or do things that cause deep wounds that are then ignored.

Arguments that are tempered by self-discipline so that both spouses are careful in how they present their case, will be more productive in resolving the issue and less likely to wound the heart of the participants. And when there is wounding, good couples seek out each other, apologise, forgive and reconcile in such a way that they actually make their relationship stronger than it was before.

For more on reconciliation: here

Myth 4: It’s Better to Say What’s On Your Mind than Bottle It Up

Interestingly, explosive outbursts of anger don’t always help alleviate the building internal tension. These sorts of arguments tend to cause defensiveness which reinforces the anger in the initiator rather than dissipating it. So, anger shared becomes anger multiplied.

A more productive way to deal with mounting anger is to process it with a trusted and mature friend, counsellor or mentor so that you can approach your spouse and calmly express your feelings and make a request for change.

Myth 5: Every Argument is Different

Actually, the essential elements of every argument are the same. That’s why we often have a sense of deju vu when we argue; it feels like we’ve already had this debate. The topic may be different, but there is a pattern of reaction and response that follows a predictable path.

Read more about the Anatomy of an Argument here.

Quiz: What’s Your ‘Argument’ Style?

Do you yell and shout?
Do you swear and name-call?
Do you shut down and refuse to talk?
Do you become ultra calm and rational?
What physical gestures do you use – eg pointing the finger, shaking a fist, banging the table, hitting, kicking, rolling your eyes to heaven, glaring etc.
Do you cold war – no conversation, no warmth, just stony silence?
Do you use passive aggression – subtly undercut your spouse without being open that you are upset?
Do bring up the past to bolster your case?
Do you withdraw to cool off?
Do you express your feelings or mainly make accusations?
Do write your complaint down rather than say it?
Do you threaten violence or divorce?


Originally published at Smart Loving. Photo by Vera Arsic.

Published On: March 22nd, 20230 CommentsTags: , , ,

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

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