The conflict in the couple: why should we dare?

An argument in the couple is often beneficial, sometimes even saving. It is also necessary to know how to argue, to have the desire to find a common solution and to listen to the arguments of the other.

How to argue constructively? Top Santé asked Camille Rocher, psychologist of the couple, author of “Love begins after three years” and “To be a happy couple”.

Top Health: Why do you have to dare to argue in a relationship?

Camille Rocher : I prefer the term “living the conflict” rather than “arguing”. The argument hurts because it is a matter of settling scores, unlike the conflict that elevates it. It allows us to confront our opposing ideas and to come up with a common solution. The conflict must exist in the couple because it is anyway illusory to think that we would agree on everything!

How would you characterize an argument that is beneficial to the good health of a couple?

Several clues prove a healthy argument:

• Knowing how to speak without raising your voice

• Listen carefully to the other person and try to rephrase to make sure that we understand what he meant.

• Feeling that you are understood myself

• Feel relieved when faced with the solution found together because it takes into account each other’s point of view.

• Accept that the other does not agree with his idea, even if he agrees with the solution found in the end.

What rules must be applied for an argument to be beneficial and constructive?

In addition to what I have just listed, I will add that there should be no room for judgment and criticism. Any accusation or denigration would turn the conflict into an argument. The slightest attack generates in the other the desire to defend himself, either by the attack or by the withdrawal into oneself. And there, we are no longer constructive.

Beyond settling a conflict, what is the point of an argument in a couple?

It is used to keep the couple alive! A couple who has no conflict necessarily suffocates one or the other of the spouses, or even both. If the absence of an argument suggests that the couple is in agreement on everything, it actually hides the true personality of one or both spouses who dare not express their disagreement. This can explode after a while, through an existential crisis that is often fatal for the couple. Another benefit of the conflict, it allows both spouses to continue to discover the person who lives next to them and who continues to evolve as an individual.

What is the risk of a couple who do not argue?

The couple will atrophy, they will lose more and more creativity and life drive. We are drawn to what is different from us. So, if we give the feeling of being the same, of having the same ideas on everything, there will be no more distance between the spouses and therefore no more desire. This is when weariness sets in. It is also the risk of letting bad habits take over, without questioning.

Keeping silent: what are the dangers for the couple and the individual?

There are two major risks for mental health: one of the partners falls into depression because he did not know how to give value to his thoughts and died, wrongly, for the benefit of the couple; one of the spouses has an existential crisis and causes the couple to break up. Infidelity is often also the result because we have the feeling that the couple has become too bland.

When does the argument become pointless or even dangerous?

When the tone rises, when each one starts to resent the other, when you criticize in your head your spouse in front of you! The conflict is not easy to live with but if it is well experienced, it is a source of rapprochement.

Some couples still argue about the same topics. A conflict therefore does not always solve the problem. Is it a failure?

The conflict is not resolved until it opens up a positive outcome where everyone feels a winner. Deep conflict can take a long time to resolve. This can be done over several months, sometimes when the subject is a source of great tension. Simply, you should never abandon it along the way, otherwise it will spoil the relationship.

What advice would you give to someone who is afraid of conflict?

To wonder where this fear comes from seems essential to me. Often it is an early experience, prior to the couple, which suggests that the conflict is necessarily dangerous. You have to trust your partner to be able to get along and question yourself. I recommend taking the time to think about how to approach the subject, also waiting until the emotion has subsided to use the right words. I believe that we must also learn to stop the conflict if it turns into an argument, without forgetting to come back to it later!

Source : interview with Camille Rocher, psychologist and author of Anoustous blog, November 2021.

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