Are Arguments A Sign Of A Failing Or Healthy Relationship?

“They’re so right for each other!” “They are the perfect couple.” “They must not have any problems.”  These are the types of things friends and family would constantly think about Sonia and Anil.

They were the couple that all couples wanted to be like. They always looked happy with each other and, when asked by either of their friends, replied that in the 3 years they had been together, they had never had an argument.

“You’re so lucky,” replied Julie. “Chris and I have had about 10,000 arguments in the 5 years we’ve been together. How do you do it?

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“I don’t know we just get along really well and think just like each other I guess,” Sonia replied coolly.

“So you guys just like the same movies and the same activities?” Smita asked.

“Well no but if I want to watch something he just doesn’t argue with me and the same goes the other way. We just respect each other a lot.”

What about more serious topics like when you talk about kids? You both have the same idea bout when to have kids and how many?” jumped in Ameena.

Sonia just shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “We haven’t talked about it but I’m sure our ideas aren’t too far off.”

So what do you want?” asked a curious Smita.

“Mm…I think I want only one child. I grew up in such a huge family and it’s just too chaotic. And definitely I don’t want a kid for many years. At least 5 years.” Sonia said confidently.

While the girls were having brunch, Anil was with his brother cleaning their cars.

“Hey so you guys have been together for 3 years right?” Anuj asked. “Have you thought about kids?”

“Ya. I think we’re going to have two, maybe three,” Anil replied happily. “Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

You guys are amazing. I don’t see you arguing ever!” said Anil’s younger brother.

“Look, arguing is not worth it. When you find the right person for you, there’s never a need to argue. You just get along and you know that you’re always on the same page,” Anil imparted his wisdom on his younger brother.

For one more year, Sonia and Anil proceeded as they had in the past. They didn’t argue about anything and got out of each other’s way if they did disagree. It seemed to work for them and others in their life continued to be jealous by their apparent perfection.

Then one day, Anil brought up the subject.

“So, what do you think about having a Sonia Jr. or an Anil Jr.?” he asked while holding Sonia close one morning.

Sonia laughed. “Sonia Jr. and Anil Jr. are not real names!”

“Ok. I agree with that. But how about having a child, name to be decided later?” said Anil.

“Oh ya sure. I think having a child would be great,” Sonia replied casually.
Anil hugged her happily. “This is why we’re so perfect together. We’re always on the same page!”

“Well you don’t mean anytime soon do you?” Sonia asked.

“Not really soon but how about sometime in the upcoming year we try to get pregnant?” Anil asked seriously.

Sonia laughed, in her typical fashion when she becomes nervous. “That’s a good one.” She got up to brush her teeth and said, “We’re meeting up with Kriti and Josh for lunch today. Do you know where yet?”

“No I don’t. I should call them,” replied Anil. Just like that the topic of children was dropped.

As the weeks and months went by, Anil did not know how to bring up the topic again without upsetting Sonia and she did not know how to tell him that she did not want children in the upcoming year. Both Anil and Sonia felt high anxiety about this topic, how to bring it up and how to resolve what seemed to be a very clear difference between the two of them.

  • Because they could not talk to each other about it and did not want to argue, they began to spend less time together.
  • Many nights of the week they would either work late or go out separately with coworkers or friends.
  • On the weekends, they tried to be as busy as possible getting together with friends or family.

In essence, they avoided being alone together knowing that when they were alone they would have to talk about something that seemed too difficult for them to handle.

There is a common misconception amongst South Asian couples that arguing is a sign of a failing relationship and that the stronger the marriage, the less arguments there will be. In fact, the opposite is true for a healthy relationship.

Had Sonia and Anil argued about smaller things such as what movie to watch or what type of food to eat for diner, they would have learned the skills necessary to be able to talk about larger, more hot-button topics such as having children.

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Sensitive issues, such as children, money and sex, are topics that are the most common source of conflict and disagreement amongst couples. Without the proper skills, conversations about such sensitive topics become even more difficult than they need to be.

Sonia and Anil had learned to avoid talking about their disagreements which is not a healthy long-term strategy as some of these topics eventually need to be addressed. When Sonia and Anil finally had to talk about their plan for children, they ended up getting into an explosive fight where Sonia left to go stay at her sister’s apartment and they did not speak for a few days.

Their original pattern of avoidance did not prepare them for how to have a difficult conversation.They had not learned how to disagree in a healthy manner, how to compromise or how to work out their differences.

South Asian couples who don’t argue about the smaller things don’t realize that the underlying differences between them will eventually come up whether they want to or not. Without the proper skills, South Asian couples who don’t have small arguments along the way will end up having explosive arguments that they have difficulty knowing how to navigate and recover from.

This does not mean that all arguments are healthy. Disagreements that are filled with respect and devoid of hostility are productive to have and work through so you can learn more about each other. Arguments that consist of contempt and defensiveness are harmful to a relationship.

The most important thing South Asian couples can do is to talk about all of their concerns, issues, and ideas.

  • Learn about each other and truly accept the person that you are with, without assuming you both are the same or that you can change each other.
  • From there, talk out your differences and learn how to create a life together that suits both of you and meets both of your needs.

Sometimes that will require you to engage in an argument but as long as you are both respectful and do not feel hostile toward each other, you will be doing yourselves and your relationship a great favor in the long run.

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Article Contributor:  MySahana, meaning my “patience” or “fortitude” in Sanskrit, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about mental health issues as they pertain to the South Asian community.

By providing culturally-sensitive and relevant information, they aim to correct misinformation, remove stigma and begin a dialogue about mental health and healthy living. They believe it is from these dialogues that South Asians will feel more comfortable seeking services and making the necessary changes to live a healthier life.

For more information, please visit their website at http://www.mysahana.org, follow them@MySahana on Twitter and connect with them on Facebook.

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