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Study Says Couples Who Argue a Lot Are More Likely to Stay Together

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You know what they say! The couple who fights together stays together. OK, that may not be the actual saying, but that's what the experts have found in their research. Obviously, there are different types of fighting, and it's the "good" kind that helps couples iron out disagreements and keep communicating effectively.

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You don't want to be at each other's throats 24 / 7. That's not healthy. But it seems from this survey that couples who have small, controlled arguments on a consistent basis are more likely to stay together than those couples who seem to get along all the time. 

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The survey, done in India, found that 44 percent of married couples believe arguing more than once a week helps keep the lines of communication open. Similar studies done in the United States have garnered matching results, according to William Doherty, a professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Family Social Science. 

Of course, there are a few caveats to this study. First, you should never pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight. Disagreements and arguments should always stem from your true, strong feelings about a subject. If things are important to you, it's so important not to bottle them up and let them fester. That's how resentment builds.

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Healthy couples address issues with each other when they pop up. William told the Star Tribune that arguing "helps couples recalibrate by addressing the things that are important to them. I see a lot of couples bury these things under the rug — and that rug ends up getting really lumpy."

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Of course, fighting and arguing shouldn't really mean yelling and losing control. When that happens, often it's because one person doesn't feel listened to. Arguing is essential for a healthy relationship, but only if it's done productively. Marriage counselor Bernie Slutsky says, "If it's intentionally hurtful and abusive, it's not helpful. Don't attack; argue. And don't blame. It has to be done in a way that you're not trying to hurt the other person. You're just expressing your point of view."

Fighting between people in couples, if done properly, is an effective method of communication, and that can lead to a much stronger, healthier relationship. In order for a fight to be healthy, you both have to go into it with certain things intact and some tools at your disposal. 

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First, there has to be a level of respect between both parties. An argument about a certain issue should remain about that issue and not turn into assassinations of each other's character. Also to that point, when you are arguing about something specific, keep the argument focused on that specific thing. If, for example, you're arguing about how much money one of you spent, don't also bring up that they don't do the dishes or something else you should have let go of or kept for a separate discussion.

Second, for goodness sake, apologize. If you were wrong, just admit it and apologize unconditionally, no caveats attached. It's much more mature and adult to actually say you're sorry for doing something wrong than to refuse to take responsibility for your actions. 

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Third, you both have to be up for the argument. "It's not uncommon for one person to want to bring up issues and for the other person to not want to, and that's not a good thing," William said. "If it's an issue for one of you, it's an issue for the marriage. If someone brings up an issue more than once, you need to talk about it."

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That being said, it's OK, and in fact super healthy, to schedule your fights! If one of you is upset, but the other just got home from a long day of work and is cranky and hungry and tired, that's not the best time to fight. Sleep on it and sit down together to discuss when both of you are feeling up to it. 

No one likes to fight. If they do, they have bigger problems on their hands. But the point is that, in any healthy relationship, you're going to have differences of opinion, and you must address those differences if you want to keep resentment from building. Yelling and screaming and losing control is not the answer. But having thoughtful, honest discussions and yes, actual, full-on fights, will help you learn to communicate better, be honest with each other, and ultimately strengthen your bond. So go forth, and happy fighting!

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