Arguments in Marriage and Close Relationships

Break Up

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by Jayaram V

Summary: The essays is about arguments and conflicts in marriage and intimate relationships and how to resolve them.

Why do marriages fail? Why close friend often become bitter enemies? Why do the people we love most give us the worst pain? Relationships are a blessings. They can also be a nightmare. They can be our sanctuaries where we can find solace and emotional support or they can be potential sources of conflict and great suffering, which can destabilize our lives and leave us with unpleasant and hurtful memories.

One of the early signs of a failing marriage is that the couple spend more time arguing and blaming each other. They begin to resent each other so much, that they cannot find anything good about the other and spend more time focusing upon their negatives. Once it becomes clear that they do not like each other or appreciate each other, the door of reconciliation and understanding begin to close upon them.

Sometimes, friends and family members who act as the intermediaries to resolve the difference may temporarily help them to patch, but if the basic issues are not resolved, these efforts do not produce lasting results. Many people stay in failed marriages due to fear or social pressure or economic reasons. Those marriages are difficult to repair where both partners are assertive and have the option to live separately and independently.

Arguments are useful in academic circles to explore a subject and validate different opinions and perspectives. In life, arguments can be troublesome and a potential source of conflicts and resentment. People do not like to be opposed or contradicted and thereby feel belittled. It directly hurts their self-esteem. Critical people are rarely appreciated, however objective their analysis and observation may be, compared to those who tread on sensitive areas carefully and avoid potential conflicts. World appreciates them as practical people, who know how to get along with others.

Arguments and conflicts in marriages and intimate relationships are not uncommon. Indeed, they are one of the constant features of close relationships where partners know each other very well and have a long list of demands and expectations from each other. They are inevitable when two people live in proximity and share the same space and time for a long time. Just as everything else in our impermanent world, relationships tend to deteriorate overtime and require constant nurturing and care.

Sometimes arguments can be helpful to settle differences and arrive at mutual understanding. It is one of the common features of matured relationships, where people learn to make peace with each other’s shortcomings and weaknesses. Rightly used, they can bring people together and help them improve their relationships. At the end of an argument, people may rediscover love and respect for each other and renew their bonds of love.

Arguments are helpful in healthy and matured relationships to resolve differences of opinion, find common ground, make mutually acceptable decisions, explore problems and opportunities, share knowledge, know friends and partners better and avoid potential conflicts. However, they become problematic in relationships when there is no love, respect, appreciation or trust between the partners. In such cases, arguments worsen the understanding and make reconciliation even more difficult.

Many problems in marriage or close relationships are not due to gender differences, but differences in education, thinking, upbringing, outlook, attitude, interests, knowledge and behavior. Sometimes they can be a blessing because they complement rather than divide, but if both partners have strong personalities, it may lead to conflicts.

What can destroy a marriage? Many factors contribute to conflicts in relationships. Here are a few potential causes. 1. Distrust, 2. Deception, 3. Dishonesty, 4. Immaturity, 5. Irresponsible behavior, 6. Sexual incompatibility, 7. Cultural barriers, 8. Social pressures, 9. Insecurity, 10. Control and dominance, 11. Living apart and 12. Family interference.

Marriages demand a lot of responsibility, compromise, adjustment, tolerance, acceptance and endurance from the partners, which can often prove to be a challenge due to external or internal problems. Marital relationships tend to deteriorate overtime as partners become familiar with each other and notice their weaknesses and excesses or grow intolerant of each other. By nature, human beings tend to become bored with what they have or what they can procure easily. Once they fall into a routine pattern of life and become used to certain things, they tend to take them for granted.

It is very true that familiarity breeds contempt. Relationships are supposed to improve with time when people come to know each other better. However, usually in relationships the opposite happens. In the presence of strangers and acquaintances we are more cautious and guarded. We either ignore them or give them more respect and attention compared to those whom we know very well. We also take more liberties with our loved one and often hurt them with our actions and decision or our behavior and attitude. In public and before strangers we wear masks and hide our true personalities or intentions and often bring out the worst in us in front of those whom we dearly love.

Relationships need care, attention, trust, honesty and genuine regard. When they are missing in any relationship, it will eventually fail. Emotions also play an important role. Positive emotions strengthen relationships, and the negative ones create friction. It is important what type of emotions the partners in a relationship experience. If they are not mature enough, negative emotions can cause them a lot of hurt and negativity. One should be careful with those who are by nature cruel, critical, drain energy, put down others, lack empathy and remain selfish or self-centered. They tend to draw people into abusive and hurtful relationships.

Marriages and close relationships may also fail when partners do not accommodate each other and look to their own comforts and concerns. They create a lot of resentment in as their partners feel victimized, angry, insulted and ignored by such behavior. People are not alike. Some prefer to be left alone, some need guidance and direction. Some people want to be loved and appreciated through words and actions, while some may feel uncomfortable with too much extroversion. In relationships, one should regard these as a mark of respect and commonsense. Many marriages and relationships fail not because the partners are bad, but because they do not pay adequate attention to each other and fail to accommodate their individual preferences and expectations.

Unrealistic expectations can impair marital relationships. In many instances, those expectations may not be even clearly conveyed with the expectations that if a person loves or cares he or she would know without being told. However, it is not correct. Assumptions in relationships are as problematic as expectations. They lead to conflicts and misunderstanding.

Marriage is a compromise of sorts in which both partners have to find a middle ground where both can feel comfortable thought not completely happy. If they do not have the flexibility or do not want to adapt or adjust to each other, most likely the relationship will fail. Here are a few important ways to resolve differences in a marriage or an intimate relationship and avoid potential land mines.

  1. Every person has weak spots or sensitive areas which may evoke unpleasant feelings if they are touched. For example, many women do not like their parents or family members to be criticized or disrespected. Hence, it is better to avoid those areas for peace and harmony.
  2. Communication is like water to a relationship. Partners in a relationship must invest time and effort in communicating their thoughts and feelings to each other. They should also listen and pay attention so that they can understand each other and strengthen their bond. Many relationships fail due to lack of communication. It is an indication that they do not respect or care for each other.
  3. Handle the differences carefully like an adult without letting emotions vitiate the relationship. Differences and conflicts should be resolved without aggression or dominance but in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Be realistic, respectful and patient in your approach and attitude towards the other person and find solutions through dialogue and discussions.
  4. Yelling and shouting does not help in relationships. It makes matters worse, forcing each side to take a rigid stand or regress into denial and defensive behavior. To the extent possible, keep your emotions under control and avoid venting them.
  5. Respect also means you treat the other person as equal, not as inferior. Avoid lecturing or treating your partner as someone who needs to be corrected, disciplined, educated or improved. It will make him or her resent you more.
  6. Nurture the relationships by spending quality time. Make use of events such as marriage anniversary, birthdays, etc., to declare your love and commitment to the relationship and cement the relationship further with happy memories.
  7. Do not entirely tie your happiness to the other person or develop mental dependence. If necessary, you must be willing to let go of the relationship. Eventually, it is your life and your happiness, and you are best judge of what you should or should not do in a given situation.

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