Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Disagreements vs. Arguments
There is one basic difference between disagreements and arguments: when we disagree, it's important what is right; and in arguments the only thing that matters is who is right.
So it follows that disagreements have (or should have) objectivity for a purpose, whereas arguments have only emotion.
Couples may disagree for a variety of reasons, mainly due to their different convictions or tastes. Once that disagreement becomes obvious enough to both, either a compromise is in order, or a complete drop of the issue, with acceptance of each other's right to have an opinion or taste. As that Latin proverb puts it: "De gustibus non disputabant est". (or, tastes are not to be discussed).
Persisting with one's own point of view always calls for a new proof, rather than wasting time on just paraphrasing the same that has already been said. Just before we have reached the point of perpetuating the same over and over -- and possibly turning it into an argument -- it's prudent to simply change the subject, upon realization that we have never moved from the square one.
That makes disagreements an innocent, sometimes even interesting, if not also entertaining feature of couple's interacting, and they are quite normal, considering individual differences between all of us. It would actually be quite strange if people agreed over everything.
It's only when disagreements escalate into arguments that they become troublesome to the relationship.
There are all kinds of reasons why couples become so emotionally wound up over their disagreements, making it anything from a stubborn pushing their point of view to ridiculing the opponent's competence in the matter, possibly ending with name calling and insults.
Even that famous Roman orator Cicero is quoted as advising his students: "When you run out of healthy arguments -- start insulting your opponent". Whether he said it sarcastically, or he really meant it -- I don't know, but I have seen people using it a lot, especially in politics, without really having studied Classic Roman culture.
A Sheer Waste of Time and Nerves
From a logical perspective -- with a dash of humor -- arguing couples might as well skip the subject of the argument altogether, and get right to the name calling and insulting, since the emotional charge of it is all that wants to be satisfied.
In a sense, arguments are nothing but a socially acceptable surrogate for violence, in this case a verbal one. There must be an underlying intolerance, an old grudge, jealousy, or competition to provide the emotional fuel for it.
But then, also something of a less serious nature may trigger that exchange of fighting words -- like a bad mood caused by an incident at work, in traffic, woman's PMS-ing, with its destabilizing hormones possibly affecting mood, or just about anything else of a passing nature.
On that more serious side, we are seeing one or both partners having personality issues, which are bound to be expressed in interactions. In that case they are using each other for an emotional dumpster to relieve that excess of emotional energy.
If you happen to be a witness, you may not believe your ears how a totally unimportant thing might have started it all.
Many a time that struggle of wills stems from insecurity, which compensates itself in arguments, as that raised voice feels like an act of will, whereas it only represents a cry of a soul to be respected.
While it may sound a sort of ridiculous, many people get into a relationship, even marriage, just to get a chance to get even with their tactless and downgrading parent through their partner of choice. So, whatever they were scared to tell that parent, they are now emotionally discharging in their arguments.
Needless to say, such people are not exactly fit for a normal relationship, at least not before they have done something with those issues, rather than making them a poor investment into a relationship.
On the other hand, some may choose an understanding and tolerant partner who will absorb those emotional tantrums in a name of love -- maybe even helping in the process for those issues to heal.
However, more often than not that's not the case, and couples with a dark emotional repertoire are simply locked into an unresolvable mess where neither is really winning, but both believe that they are.
A Dark Marital Pastime
Without any mocking intentions, we may say that some couples argue simply because they are getting on each other's nerves with their mere presence.
I mean, they don't even have to say anything that would trigger an argument, it's enough that they see each other in what appears as their territory, and that alone is bound to inspire an argument. At that point it doesn't even matter how insignificant or even crazy thing it may be -- as long as it sounds enough as an invitation for an argument.
How could I ever forget this retired lady who responded to my casual remark that "we never argue" with wide open eyes and : "Really?! Then, what, for Pete's sake, do you do all the day long, now that you are both retired?!"
Well, I also happen to know a couple whose sexual energy found an outlet in constant arguments, even fist fights. Namely, they admitted that sex was always following that fierce verbal exchange and smacking each other. Yes, it takes all kinds.
Since violence is a feature of animalistic behavior -- and we partially are animals, as every anthropologist will attest to it -- arguments, again, being a form of acceptable form of violence, may hide that need for dominance.
Many will express it in social climbing, or professional ambitions, or showoffs with possessions -- but it's also expressed in relationships, especially if that's the only available outlet for it. So, someone doesn't have to feel inferior, but on the contrary, has this need to have an upper hand in relationship.
Not like in the previous case where they compensate their inferiority by screaming in revenge for feeling put down -- here we have those who insist on playing the leader of the pack. They just love their role of a superiority, and love to rub it in during arguments.
They will start an argument with an almost a sadist pleasure of victimizing the partner -- and if you are automatically thinking of a verbally abusive husband, broaden up your views, and you'll see many a bossy woman doing it with a sheer pleasure.
With Too Much or Too Little Brains Invested
Some of those arguing couples actually seek help from a professional marriage counsellor, who may help them up to a point -- or he/she may just furnish their arguments with a more fancy style.
Namely, now that they are armed with that "scientific" crap, they don't have to use their usual name calling and repeating their old resentments -- they can "upgrade and spice it" with this new insights into their respective issues.
So, the new artillery may sound something like this:
"Stop treating me like I am your mother who never expressed any warmth! Damn it, just grow up already!"
"Hey, I am not your father, I am not making fun of your body shape and your freckles."
"Look, it's not my fault that you got fired, so don't see in me your boss who fired you!"
"Are you blaming me for your hormones driving you nuts once a month?!"
You see what I mean?
Now, I am sorry for having to say this, but marital arguments also have a lot to do with intelligence. While everybody is entitled to get into a relationship, not everybody "intellectually qualifies", and the disaster is right there, with no need to elaborate any further.
Just like some folks are not qualified to perform some jobs, they may not have what it takes to maintain a peaceful coexistence under the same roof. To them it feels normal to first fall in love, and then equally normal that love must shift to a stage of a mutual disrespect.
It might have started with a sexual attraction, only to reach a stage of getting fed up with that partner in bed -- and with their limited mind capacity they are bound to see it as the "partner's fault" that they don't feel attracted anymore.
Well, what can we say, but, again -- it takes all kinds.
But Then, Some May Be Opting for Peace
Not every arguing couple is doomed to persist with that dark passion indefinitely. In every marriage there is something like a period of adjustment, and depending on the personalities involved and their tempers, with some it may take a little longer than with others.
But that's all that it is really for them -- just a little bumpy period of adjusting to each other. Replacing our freedom with a commitment and everything that it involves may fall a little hard on some. Besides, after that initial dating phase, while both are trying to display only their best qualities, here comes this time of "unwrapping" that shiny looking gift, to face a true humanness of each other -- "warts and the rest", so to speak.
But love and general values may override all that, with both starting to realize what they have been doing with those senseless crossing swords.
So maybe a few of the following ideas may come handy for them to consider, while their relationship is on its way towards recovery.
The best way is just to sit down and open your hearts to each other -- say what other is doing that you find irritating, or tactless, or void of respect. Don't make it a defensive game, finding excuses, just listen, and in the name of love understand that your partner is being hurt by some aspects of your behavior.
At the end, promise to each other that you'll correct it, or at least do your best in that direction.
Another good move would be to start accentuating more of what the two of you are having in common -- like hobbies, interests, sources of fun and entertainment. Revive some of those things that you used to do together in that phase of happy dating -- and, of course, I don't merely mean sex.
Avoid playing competitive games where you would be opponents. Experiencing each other that way, even if in a game, may emotionally revamp those emotions which used to lead to arguments.
Breaking the arguing habit is not only gratifying as a healthier form of marital interacting, but is also better for your mental health. For, let's face it, with all other "regular" stressors in the practice of living, like jobs, kids, finances, traffic, politics, (currently also this crazy pandemic) -- who needs facing day after day someone who evokes that dark side in us.
So, putting a balsam of love and respect on a hurting relationship will definitely make your body thank you, ultimately with your whole life thanking you as well.
© 2021 Val Karas
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 21, 2021:
Ravi -- I agree, as long as arguments are a part of "relationship school" in which something is learned, with a possible "graduation" ahead. Otherwise they are just nonsensical waste of each other's time, plus everything else I mentioned in my article.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Ravi.
Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 21, 2021:
Interesting article. Yes arguments are bad in any relationship but arguments can also be utilized in a healthy way by the couple to strengthen their relationship and think about new creative ways to bring back spice in the relationship. Thanks for sharing Val.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 21, 2021:
Devika -- You are welcome, my friend. And yes, I am well, especially in that department of marriage. After 56 years of it, we still haven't had an argument, even raised voice on each other -- although we have disagreements, being different personalities with different tastes and opinions. We both came from dysfunctional families, and even during those teenage dates we would say how we wanted to have our own relationship as flawless as possible, being tired of family drama. So, these days I am still buying her flowers on an ordinary day. To us, love only matures, and our grownup kids say how they have never seen a marriage like ours.
Well, we haven't got rich here on the "rich West", but our little family is our biggest achievement with its harmony and love -- which no money can buy.
You have a great day, my friend, and say "Hi" to my native Croatia.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 21, 2021:
Oh great it does, thank you very much for that. Hope you are well
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 19, 2021:
Devika -- When frame of mind is void of capacity for joy in life with stresses accumulating, people start being intolerant towards everybody, their spouses, their bosses, traffic, politics -- everybody gets on their nerves.
Other than that, people go through crises in life. Like middle age crisis, when with drop in hormones we tend to make life inventories, suddenly wondering why we married whom we married, among other things.
Then, even younger people may reach a stage of "saturation", when the relationship becomes "too much", and the "grass seems much greener across the road", with thoughts of change in that department.
So, in all of the above cases, couples start noticing each other's imperfections more than before, becoming annoyed and intolerant about them.
I hope this answers your question.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 19, 2021:
How do couples stop tolerating one another?
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 18, 2021:
Brenda -- When people are not at a relative peace with themselves, they make relationships which don't insist on peace either. We exteriorize our inner world, and when other person comes into it, the inner conflict turns into the outer one. Unfortunately, but people don't step into relationships with a heart that knows what it wants and willing to pursue it -- but so often quick to know what it doesn't want, and willing to spoil it.
Thank you for your interesting comment, my friend.
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 18, 2021:
Arguments happen over the silliest things, so maybe you have a point there.
We are utilizing our animal instincts.
Sometimes the make up is worth it, unless you are with a person who doesn't know how to feel in the first place.
Those golden years when the arguments cease or become less sound most enjoyable, but maybe we just tire of opening our mouth to yell.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 18, 2021:
Devika -- Yes, love goes through its changes, and even more so when love itself was not well based to start with. It's so easy to find a reason for argument, and it's harder to find a reason to stop it, after enough of feelings have been hurt.
Thank you for your nice comment, my friend. Be well, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 18, 2021:
Interesting about couples arguing and yet when you think about the time they first met arguing wasn't part of their time together. I think coupes who argue have a reason and this reason is about the changes they have experienced together. I do know couples married for years and have an argument about an irrelevant issue. Your points are worth reading hope you have a good day and keeping safe .