For most couples, once the excitement of new love has worn off, reality begins to set in. Like it or not, arguments are an inevitable part of most relationships, and while they aren’t always pleasant, the good news is that if handled correctly, working through them may even bring you and your partner closer together. The problems start when couples fight about the same issues over and over, leading to frustration and unnecessary tension. BettyConfidential checked in with experts to learn how couples can work through some of the most common arguments when they come up — and maybe even learn how to avoid them altogether.
Sex: This is an area of frequent conflict for couples. According to San Francisco psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Michelle Gannon, who founded the Marriage Prep 101 workshop, many couples regularly fight over their desires — for example, one partner would like to have sex more often, but might want the other partner to initiate intimacy.
According to Dr. Gannon, it’s essential to discuss what you and your partner each want in the bedroom, but no matter what the issue is, sometimes couples need to set their differences aside and, well, touch each other. “Couples need to prioritize having a physically affectionate and sexual relationship — even after having children, work, stress or busy lives,” she says. Relationship expert and psychologist Dr. Karen Sherman echoes the sentiment, and urges couples to make sex a priority in their relationships. “Sex [should] not fall by the wayside,” Dr. Sherman says. She suggests that something as simple as a gentle hug after dinner can help you and your partner begin to feel more physically in sync.
Money: “No matter how much money a couple has, this is the number one argument-starter,” says Dr. Gannon. She explains that people often prioritize different things when it comes to spending and saving money, which can cause major problems when it comes to sharing financial responsibilities.
Luckily, you don’t have to be an economist to straighten out your shared finances. “Lay out ground rules,” suggests Dr. Sherman. When handled correctly, those rules could save you from countless fights down the road. For example, she says, it’s usually best for couples to decide how to spend money together, particularly on big-ticket items, as early as they can to avoid problems later in a relationship. By sitting down together and deciding how you’ll handle your shared expenses, you can avoid unnecessary arguments over your individual spending habits.