Disagreements and the occasional arguments are normal in every relationship, but the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship lies in how you argue with each other when things are not that perfect and ideal. Do you engage in productive fighting or destructive fighting?
Not All Fighting Is Equal
Fighting, arguing, and disagreeing are usually the things you want to avoid in a relationship. Seldom do we think about arguing as something that could be considered constructive or even helpful inside a healthy relationship.
This article will define productive fighting vs destructive fighting and how disagreements in the right context can strengthen a relationship, as well as the warning signs that fighting in your relationship lies on the destructive side of the line. Lastly, I will give you 10 strategies to help make the disagreements in your relationship as productive as possible.
What Is Productive Fighting
We need disagreements in our relationships to be able to parse out the different places and opinions we might have about different topics, and decisions we need to make in our lives.
First, let’s think about what “fighting” actually is and clarify what we mean when we talk about productive fighting, as the word fighting is often misused or used in a very general way to describe any kind of disagreement or argument.
I think of productive fighting as two people with differing thoughts and ideas about an action or event, who actively engage in a conversation, (might be interpreted as an argument) to work through their differences and who come to a place of greater understanding about themselves or the situation.
I will talk more about destructive fighting below, but quickly, I will say that destructive fighting is a disagreement gone awry. When there is a destructive fight there are strong feelings that often get ugly. Disagreements, however, don’t have to be ugly. What many people are uncomfortable with, is the possibility that the disagreement could escalate, and for this reason, there is discomfort with any kind of disagreement.
Very often in an argument or more destructive fight, there are things that are said that we later regret, or conversely, things are said intentionally to hurt the other person. I tend to think of fighting as unhealthy. However, the less heavy terms known as disagreement or arguing are where we see more health in the “fighting”.
So when we talk about productive fighting, what we are actually referring to is a healthy disagreement. However, we are all well aware that a disagreement can quickly escalate and turn into one of those ugly fights, which doesn’t leave any winners.
Depending on where you are at in your relationship, your fighting may look very different. It might be around children, where they should go to school, or if they should be taking medication to address ADHD for example. It might be around a decision on where to buy or rent a home, which neighborhood to be in, what are the important features of a location. And it might be a very routine matter like where to enjoy a night out or get something to eat.
Be it the big decisions or the more routine decisions, it is essential for any healthy relationship to work through the differences of opinion in a helpful productive manner.
In fact, having a difference of opinion is where the strength lies in disagreement, it is healthy to consider another way of thinking about a situation and how something might affect us and our family in a way that we had not really considered previously.
However, the manner in which this difference of opinion is expressed is what we could consider the pitfall of arguing. A healthy relationship does not shy away from arguing but rather is able to work through the differences and come to a place of increased understanding.