17 Feb My partner and I argue often. Isn’t this normal, in fact, isn’t this healthy?
This question was sent to me this week. The short answer is, no it’s not.
We accept this because we tell ourselves, “everyone argues, it’s part and parcel of being in a relationship”. However, if I ask you “do you often argue with your best friend?” Your answer is more than likely to be ‘no’. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that relationships are a whole different animal to friendships. We have this notion that one can have a relationship with someone who isn’t a best friend because the requirements for making a relationship work are different to that of a friendship.This was true for centuries and millennia, from our cave days until about 100 years ago when women were not equal, when they were pretty much seen as the property of men therefore friendship, equality and love were secondary if at all considered. This meant that we instilled in our social structure wisdom such as “you’ll learn to love him/her in time”; “some things you tell your friends but not your partner”, “lie back and think of England”, and all the stereotypes that tell couples to expect the fun to leave the scene when it comes to long term committed relationships; it’s the inevitable norm. These are all safety nets that were put in place so that the two don’t split up because historically, splitting up negatively affected the whole tribe, farm, village, …etc.
Well things have changed, women are now equal and that’s a wonderful thing (although sometimes I wish….. just kidding). It means that men and women no longer need each other on a functional level to, for example, open a bank account or to stop the neighbourhood from pointing and saying “OMG, she’s 26 and still single, don’t talk to her, she’s weird”. So why do we, or should we, pair up these days? Yes, that’s right, to be with someone that enhances the pleasure, fun and feeling of acceptance in our lives; therefore, arguing with your partner at a rate that is, at a maximum, just slightly more than you would with your best friend is kind of ok. Any more than that is definitely not ok.
If we really want to change the statistics that say 80% of relationships turn stale and bickery, and that 50% of relationships end in separation, we need to promote complete and utter nudity of the mind, from date one, so that a couple continues to live together based on who they really are, not how good they are at presenting a user friendly image that maintains a comfortable illusion for a while but as soon as things get real, such as moving in together, getting married, or the ultimate revealer (I know there’s no such word, but I really think there should be) of incompatibility, having a child, then that most common of all domestic plays, the bickering couple, enters the equation till death do us part.
In order to make sure that any latent potential for an unhealthy level of arguing is exposed early, we need to get to grips with the idea that we must speak our mind, hold on to our metaphoric nuts and do it to an almost uncompromising level. And just to be absolutely clear, freedom of speech does not mean honestly telling your partner that the pasta in this restaurant is salty, it means if you hate giving presents on Valentine’s day because it feels so rigid and commercial, or if you really don’t like your partner’s friend’s partner and therefore, no, you don’t think it’s fun to go out as a foursome with them, or if you absolutely hate someone being too cheerful on Sunday morning, or if you love going salsa dancing with your friends on a Friday night or play golf on a Saturday morning, then you say so right there and then and you insist that your partner does the same.
Exposing your exact thoughts to your partner is a sign of true love, and hiding and editing thoughts means you two are just ticking boxes rather than you are really compatible for keeping your cohabitation fun. Can you swap mobile phones for a week? Can you show your partner all your messages and social media interactions? These are exercises we need to do EARLY, as in in the first six months of dating, so that you can look into that crystal ball and see who we really are dating, and for your partner to also know the real you. Exercises like these are, in effect, crystal balls that show you what you’ll be like in two three or ten years with kids and a mortgage.
Arguments happen because we live separate mental lives, we censor and edit our own thoughts and this takes its toll. That’s why children witness far more functional co- workers doing their best to minimise friction, usually one neutered and the other wearing the pants, rather than two life loving, happy best friends, neither wearing the trousers, both wearing Bermuda shorts. I know I’ve said this before if you’re a regular reader, but it’s worth repeating until society wakes up to the fact that fun, laughter and freedom of expression are the top three, and most important gauges of compatibility. If we don’t have those three in our relationships, then either they will eventually end, or we will live a life of suppression and repression just to maintain a status on our social media profile that says: ‘not single’.
In conclusion, no it’s not normal to fight often, it means either you are incompatible or, worse still, you could be compatible but you’re hanging on to outdated beliefs that kill the fun and force couples to join the bored and unfulfilled majority.
This is exactly why I started an online relationship gym. I don’t want to see good couples slowly but surely kill the fun because of outdated practices that society tells us are good. I want to change statistics so that 80% of couples stay together because they really love each other, they truly have fun together especially while living their day to day, and time has not changed this, if anything, it made it stronger.