The Type Of Arguments That Reveal If A Couple Is Really Unhappy Or Not

How to decide which fights are worth having.

How to decide which fights are worth having.

Every couple argues, but happy couples focus on solving issues that can be solved, research finds.

The key is being able to choose which issues need to be tackled and which can safely be left on the back burner.

Issues like household chores and how to spend leisure time are more solvable — so happy couples tend to talk about them.

Difficult or intractable issues, like physical intimacy and health problems, tend to be avoided by happy couples.

These issues can lead to embarrassment and conflict, which is why happy couples avoid them.

Dr Amy Rauer, the study’s first author, said:

“Happy couples tend to take a solution-oriented approach to conflict, and this is clear even in the topics that they choose to discuss.”

The study included two age groups of happy couples: 57 couples were in their 30s and 64 couples were in their 70s.

All were asked to rank their most to least serious relationship issues.

The most serious issues were money, leisure time activities, intimacy, household and communication.

Older couples added health to this list of serious issues.

The least serious issues were jealousy, religion and family.

Observing the couples revealed that they focused on issues that could be resolved, such as how to spend leisure time and manage household chores.

Dr Rauer said:

“Rebalancing chores may not be easy, but it lends itself to more concrete solutions than other issues.

One spouse could do more of certain chores to balance the scales.

Focusing on the perpetual, more-difficult-to-solve problems may undermine partners’ confidence in the relationship.”

More difficult issues, like health problems and physical intimacy, tended to be avoided.

Issues like these are likely to be embarrassing and lead to more conflict.

Dr Rauer said:

“Since these issues tend to be more difficult to resolve, they are more likely to lead to less marital happiness or the dissolution of the relationship, especially if couples have not banked up any previous successes solving other marital issues.”

The results also showed that couple together for longer tended to argue less, suggesting they knew which fights were worth picking.

Dr Rauer said:

“If couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues.”

The study was published in the journal Family Process (Rauer et al., 2019).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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