How and Why American Couples Fight


What did you discuss last time? It may have been with your partner, friend, relative, or that inconsiderate din of three-desk frogs, who stole your mouse last week and made it sticky. Yes, Alex, this entire article is about you.

We all argue. Even the soft-spoken, placid yogis of the world will sometimes argue. But the most common area of ​​contention is in our relationships. Both in terms of quality and quantity, few other aspects of our lives involve such intensity of feeling. It’s not easy living with or next to someone, or navigating the anarchic soap opera of love. From toiletry clutter and Netflix cheating to cruel words and selfishness, relationships are the tear-soaked battlegrounds of our lives.

But what are the things that annoy us the most? Thanks to a new YouGov survey, we know the answer – for Americans, anyway.

How much is too much?

Sometimes a little drama in life can be fun. The adrenaline of a shouting match, the thrill of an angry spoken word – it can sound exciting. But an exciting unique piece rarely makes a new regular happy. Arguing with a spouse or partner raises your blood pressure and screws up your immune system. According to the YouGov report, 26% of people in an argument raise their voices and 14% cry almost every time. It’s really not good for your body.

So how much do people argue? Over 90% of couples argue. Nearly half of all couples will argue several times a month, and 8% said they argue every day. Interestingly, only 3% of respondents said (or claims) that they had no argument. Obviously, arguing with a partner is a common and normal part of a relationship.

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Of course, different couples have different benchmarks for what counts as an “argument.” For some people, a firm tone or a rude request can be an argument. For others, it might require Loony Toon levels of wild screeching and posturing.

What are they (not) arguing about?

According to the YouGov survey, the most common reason for an argument is ‘tone of voice’. For 39% of respondents, no matter what you say, How? ‘Or’ What you say it. Think about it for a moment. The most common cause of an argument is not the substance, but rather the attitude about it. Surprising. If you can hold back your sarcasm or sarcastic remark, you can often avoid an argument altogether.

After that, things are a bit more practical. Americans argue about money, who does what (or who doesn’t), and relationships with family members. This is probably true not only of Americans. It’s been a subject of sitcoms and jokes since the beginning of time, but we really bicker about our in-laws a lot.

Surprisingly, hot topics like religion and politics rank low on the list. Of course, a likely explanation is that these issues are resolved or accepted in the early stages of a relationship. If you go on a date and find that your dinner partner is a Christian, Republican banker from your atheist, Democrat yoga teacher, you may never see each other again.

Choose your battles and fight fair

In some ways, an argument is a good sign. Arguments can be constructive advances: they clear the air and smooth out the wrinkles before they become an unbridgeable chasm. YouGov tells us that “[h]Half of Americans in serious relationships (50%) say they have a very or somewhat healthy arguing style with their partner, while 30% say their arguing style is very or somewhat unhealthy. Contrary to popular belief, arguing can be healthy – if done correctly.

In a particular way, an argument is a kind of compliment. People only argue about things they care about and, after all, the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. According to a 2019 study published in the journal family process, some of the happiest couples in the world argue as much as everyone else. What the paper noted is that happier, longer-lasting couples fight over issues that really matter, and they resolve them, too. They recognize the obstacles and seek to prepare for the future. Small problems are ignored. In the end, it doesn’t matter if your spouse forgets to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube; whether and how much to save for the children’s college, however, does.

Jonny Thomson runs a popular Instagram account called Mini Philosophy (@philosophyminis). His first book is Mini Philosophy: A Little Book of Big Ideas.


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