What We Argue About — Less Important Than How We Argue

Chart This New York Times chart listing the most common reasons couples fight tells me that I’m both very normal and incredibly odd. Recent arguments in my relationship include whether it’s acceptable to vacuum loudly on Saturday mornings (housework is a popular cause of fights across the board, it seems), but also whether writing or editing is a better career-building skill, and to what extent it’s appropriate for a news article to primarly give one national party’s side of a story.

The dating scene in Washington, D.C. is very special.

In any case, Tara Parker-Pope‘s article about couples’ fights is really depressing. Consider this scene:

For women, whether a husband’s arguing style was warm or hostile had the biggest effect on her heart health. Dr. Smith notes that in a fight about money, for instance, one man said, "Did you pass elementary school math?" But another said, "Bless you, you are not so good with the checkbook, but you’re good at other things." In both exchanges, the husband was criticizing his wife’s money management skills, but the second comment was infused with a level of warmth. In the study, a warm style of arguing by either spouse lowered the wife’s risk of heart disease.

Wow. Even the "nice guy" in this scenario is just incredibly condescending. The couples in the study were primarily in their sixties, so one can only hope that younger generations are better at respecting one other. Because as Dr. Timothy Smith told the Times about fights, "It’s how you conduct yourself. Can you do it in a way that gets your concerns addressed, but without doing damage at the same time? That’s not an easy mark to hit for some couples."

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