Every couple fights, but what you fight about says a lot about the future of your relationship. The truth is that, internally, we are all a bit petty. We can all become jealous when there’s no reason to be, we can become easily irritated at little flaws and quirks that our partners can’t help, and we can feel the desire to be downright selfish sometimes. But note the word internally there. It’s the ability to keep these petty thoughts and feelings to yourself that makes the difference between a stable, healthy couple and a couple that is headed for disaster. If you pick fights over tiny things and wonder, “How does this not bother other couples”—it does! But some couples are better at recognizing when a fight isn’t worth having. Life is long, after all, and you will have real things to fight about one day like mortgages and child rearing. If you fight about these small things, your relationship is doomed.
When exactly he calls
He said he’d call at 11:30 but it’s 11:45. Are you going to make a huge thing about the fact that he could have at least texted to let you know he would call late? Or are you going to recognize that he only has 15 minutes to talk on his lunch break anyways, and that could be better spent catching up/laughing/bonding than fighting about the fact that he called late? Life happens. People lose track of time. At least he didn’t call three days late.
“Are you even listening?”
If you spend a lot of time with your partner, he won’t be able to be 100 percent dialed in all of the time. He’ll have other things on his mind besides you. Isn’t that just normal? So if you catch him distracted while you’re talking, you can either say, “I can tell you’re distracted—let me know when it’s a good time for me to tell you this story” or you can freak out on him for not giving you all his attention any time you speak.
Not taking an interest
Your partner is probably not going to be interested in every hobby or interest of yours. Do you genuinely care about all of his? Not likely. But some couples will argue and insist their partner should attend every movie, lecture, and conference together on either of their interests. This only forces your partner to pretend to be engaged when he isn’t, which actually just makes him feel removed from and resentful of you. It’s better to accept that your partner isn’t interested in your hobby and do it without him than force him to fake it.
Do you argue relentlessly about which restaurant to go to or which movie to see? If the activity is so important that not nailing it could ruin the night, that means the company isn’t very good. When you don’t enjoy each other’s company very much then you need the activity to be perfect.
Bringing up past relationships
You both had lives before meeting one another. Those lives may have involved other relationships. It will be nearly impossible to tell each other about your lives, from childhood until present, without at least mentioning the existence of past partners. It’s natural to feel a little jealous when this comes up, but to become angry about it is just petty. Your partner shouldn’t have to apologize for or hide the fact that you’re not the first person he’s dated.
Being best friends with his friends
Your partner is going to have some friends you’re not crazy about. You’re going to have some friends he’s not crazy about. To expect one another to become best friends with all of your friends is unrealistic, and setting yourselves up for some major fights. All you can ask is that your partner is respectful of your friends. But if you get angry every time he doesn’t want to attend brunch with you and the friend you know he doesn’t like, you’re asking for trouble.
Talking about the future
If one of you doesn’t want to talk about the future, and that always causes a fight, that’s not a good sign. It really just isn’t a good sign if one or both people don’t want to discuss the future—it usually means they don’t see a future with their current partner.
Every couple bickers about cleanliness. It’s inevitable that you’ll scold your partner for dirty underwear that’s been left on the floor for a week. But healthy couples understand that the underwear doesn’t represent anything. They don’t let it anger them in the same way infidelity or lying would anger them. Weak couples get into full-blown brawls over cleanliness issues. But cleanliness really shouldn’t warrant that degree of anger. If it does, there are deeper issues at work.
How he spends his down time
Down time is precious and should not be judged. But couples certainly do judge each other on how they spend their downtime sometimes. So what if your partner wants to spend all of his downtime playing video games? Is it how you’d spend yours? No. Well good because it isn’t yours it’s his. Strong couples who really love each other don’t judge one another for how they relax.
Small amounts of money
When you know, deep down, that you’re going to spend your life with somebody, you do not care if he ever pays you back for a pack of gum or a burrito. In fact, you don’t even keep track of these little purchases. If, however, your partner not paying you back for a magazine leaves you teeming with anger, you’re probably not going to make it as a couple.
Who cleaned this/bought this last time
Healthy, strong couples don’t keep score or try to prove that one is the “better” partner. The moment you start keeping score, you’ve stopped viewing the two of you as a unit and you’ve started looking at this as you versus him.
Lack of PDA
If your partner never shows you affection in public then, sorry to say it, this relationship may be headed to breakup-ville. So, naturally, if you often fight about the fact that he won’t show you affection in public, things also aren’t looking too hopeful.
Lack of compliments
If you’re complaining that your partner doesn’t compliment you enough it is either because A) He doesn’t or B) You’re insecure and demand a lot of attention. Neither of those is conducive to a relationship that is going to last. If your partner isn’t paying you compliments, he doesn’t appreciate you, or he is just not that into you. On the flip side, if you’re deeply insecure, you’ll never feel satisfied in a relationship.
Having friends of the opposite sex
If you trust your partner, his female friends shouldn’t be an issue. If his female friends do bother you, that’s either because you know he is not trustworthy, or you are—once again—deeply insecure. And, again, it’s very hard for a relationship to last under these conditions.
Not consulting before scheduling
You’re both busy adults. It can be very difficult to hop on the phone every time one of you is invited on a trip or a to a dinner or to a concert. Inevitably, you’ll wind up RSVPing “Yes” for the both of you to something your partner didn’t agree with, or he’ll do this to you. Or you’ll make plans on a night you didn’t realize your partner had something else planned for the two of you. Getting in a fight every time these little miscommunications happen is setting yourself up for a lifetime of arguing.