The Argument Myth
By: Sanjay Rao
You and your partner argue all the time. In fact, you and your partner may argue about whether you both argue all the time. Surely this cannot be good, happy couples do not argue. Right?
John Gottman, a pioneer in Couples Research found that those couples who remained married for many years argued with each other, just like couples who divorced. Moreover, the only couples he noted who never argued had grown distant and were headed for separation!
If health couples and unhealthy couples both argue, you may be asking yourself what separates those couples. Excellent question! The answer? The way they argue. Health couples were able to argue without making their attacks towards their partners personal and they refrained from criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. In actuality, Gottman’s research strongly indicated that extreme negative emotions have a destructive influence on relationships and are a reliable indicator of couples likely to divorce.
As a couples counsellor who utilizes emotions-focused therapy (EFT) to allow partners to access their most vulnerable emotions to guide them to the emotional intimacy they desire. I am not concerned with the idea of couples engaging in arguing. However, what I am concerned about are couples who do not argue, at all. Research suggests they have moved beyond the point of caring enough to do so!
An expectation exists that you and your partner will experience many disagreements in your relationship; nevertheless, the opportunity to become closer to your partner waits. Destructive negative emotions which push couples apart can be converted to softer emotions which draw couples together.
It is my wish that these emotions fill your experiences with your partner and lead you to the emotional closeness and connection you both desire.
I think we can all agree to that.
Gottman, J.M. (1994). An agenda for marital therapy. In S. Johnson & L. Greenberg (Eds.),
The heart of the matter: Perspectives on emotion in marital therapy,
(pp. 256-293). New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel
Gottman, J. M. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically based marital therapy.
New York, NY: Norton