Conventional wisdom tells us it is best to avoid conflict in a relationship. After all, arguments tend to bring out our least appealing qualities: pettiness, hostility, and indifference, just to name a few. But disagreements are inevitable. The temperature of the bedroom at night, the cap on the toothpaste, and how long the in-laws are staying are all potential minefields. But not all conflicts are bad. There is evidence that arguing can be good for a relationship; the key is how you argue. As long as you show respect and that you appreciate how the other person feels, conflicts will not damage your relationship. They might even bring you closer. If you are not on the same page about an issue, resist the temptation to be dismissive or hostile, which can send a crystal-clear message that you don’t care. Making the effort to understand people’s perspectives shows them
that their point of view matters and that they are important to you.
So instead of avoiding disagreements, aim for courteous conflict instead. Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University
of Pennsylvania, offered the following blueprint
in The New York Times:
1. “Frame the argument as a debate rather than a conflict.”
2. “Argue as if you’re right, but listen as if you’re wrong.”
3. Give the benefit of the doubt: “Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.”
4. “Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.”
You cannot agree on everything, but as long as you respect each other and communicate effectively, your relationship can not only survive disagreements but thrive working through them. Remember, love is respect.
Dr. Samantha Boardman is a clinical instructor in psychiatry and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the founder of positiveprescription.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Marie Claire.
Stay In The Know
Marie Claire email subscribers get intel on fashion and beauty trends, hot-off-the-press celebrity news, and more. Sign up here.
Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey on Dealing With Trolls as Modern-Day Disney Princesses
"It’s choosing to be present and know that they’re probably just having a really hard day. And I’m putting out a movie."
By Quinci LeGardye
Kendall Jenner in Phoebe Philo Is Luxury with a Capital L
The sum total of her outfit is approximately six months of my rent.
By India Roby
Kaia Gerber's "Off-Duty Librarian" Look Is a Win for Nerds Everywhere
Bookworms, this one is for you.
By Melony Forcier
30 Female-Friendly Porn Websites for Any Mood
All the best websites, right this way.
By Kayleigh Roberts
The 82 Best Cheap Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget
"Love don't cost a thing." —J.Lo
By The Editors
Diary of a Non-Monogamist
Rachel Krantz, author of the new book 'Open,' shares the ups and downs of her journey into the world of open relationships.
By Abigail Pesta
COVID Forced My Polyamorous Marriage to Become Monogamous
For Melanie LaForce, pandemic-induced social distancing guidelines meant she could no longer see men outside of her marriage. But monogamy didn't just change her relationship with her husband—it changed her relationship with herself.
By Melanie LaForce
How the pandemic has mutated our most personal disunions.
By Gretchen Voss
16 At-Home Date Ideas When You're Stuck Indoors
Staying in doesn't have to be boring.
By Katherine J. Igoe
Long Distance Relationship Gift Ideas for Couples Who've Made It This Far
Alexa, play "A Thousand Miles."
By Jaimie Potters
15 Couples on How 2020 Rocked Their Relationship
Couples confessed to Marie Claire how this year's many multi-stressors tested the limits of their love.
By Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW