I love my partner, but we argue constantly. Does this mean we’re incompatible?

Hi Evie. I (32F) and my husband (36m) have been together for 6 years now. We’ve always had a rocky relationship but we’ve never broken up, cheated on each other, or done anything to seriously hurt one another. The problem is, we argue all the time. Especially when we’re going out or on a holiday. At home, we’re fine. We actually really enjoy each other’s company and hanging out together, so when arguments happen, it’s such a disappointment for both of us. I don’t understand it, if we love each other and want to spend time together, why do petty arguments keep cropping up? It’s the type of stuff we forget about in a week, but it ends up ruining the outing every single time. I’m starting to think that no matter how much we try, and no matter how much we love each other, maybe we’re just not compatible. What do you think? – Marisa

Dear Marisa, 

I don’t blame you for feeling confused – you clearly love each other a lot. But sadly, love alone isn’t enough to cultivate a healthy relationship. It sounds like the crux of your situation lies not in a lack of love or compatibility, but rather in the dynamics of your communication and stress management when outside of your comfort zone.

You see, when you’re at home, you’re in a familiar, controlled environment where both of you likely feel secure and relaxed. Venturing out, however, introduces variables and pressures that aren’t present at home, which could highlight or exacerbate minor differences in preferences, expectations, or stress responses.

So, I wouldn’t say you’re incompatible. I’d say your reactions to stress and your communication styles differ.

The good news is, your shared enjoyment of each other’s company at home is a strong foundation. Building on this requires you to both recognize and address the patterns that lead to arguments when you’re out. 

To address your situation:

  • Reflect on the triggers: Before your next outing, spend some time discussing what specifically has led to arguments in the past. Understanding these triggers can help you both anticipate and navigate them more effectively.
  • Develop a game plan: Agree on a strategy for dealing with stressful situations or disagreements before they escalate. This might involve taking a moment to breathe, using a code word to signal when one of you feels an argument brewing, or agreeing to table the discussion until you’re both calm.
  • Focus on communication: Work on expressing your needs and frustrations in a constructive manner. Practice active listening, where you focus on understanding your partner’s perspective before responding.
  • Seek support if needed: Sometimes, having a neutral third party like a relationship counselor can help navigate these challenges and develop more effective communication strategies.

Remember, the goal isn’t to never argue again; it’s to learn how to handle disagreements in a way that doesn’t detract from your relationship.

And ultimately, by focusing on improving how you communicate and deal with stress together, you’re likely to find that you’re more compatible than you think.

Best of luck,

Evie 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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