The Amount Of Arguing Your Relationship Can Handle Before It Becomes A Problem

I was recently walking down the street with one of my boys when we heard a couple arguing loudly from their apartment with the windows open. His immediate reaction was:

“If that’s what I have to look forward to in a relationship, I’m good being single, man!"

Is Arguing A Bad Thing?

His comment made me think back to a time when I held onto a belief that if a couple ever had arguments with each other, their relationship was probably a mess behind the scenes.

So is arguing really a sign of a relationship in trouble?

Well, if the past 5 years of marriage have taught me anything, it’s that this sentiment is far from the truth. Arguing is inevitable for most couples out there.

It’s how we negotiate what’s important in our relationship. It’s how we reconcile our differences.

If anything, arguing is not a reflection of how bad a relationship is, but a reflection of how adamant we are in trying to make our relationship work. And that’s a good thing.

That said, I think we can all agree that not every type of arguing is healthy.

When Arguing Becomes A Problem

So the question that needs to be asked is, at what point does arguing become problematic or damaging to a relationship?

Like usual, I took the question to social media to hear what everyone had to say about it and got some pretty good responses:

Alexis [@alexiswalkerftw] said: "I think arguing to solve problems is different than arguing for attention/out of habit. And trying to find a solution is healthy- trying to find who deserves blame is unhealthy. And degrading/name calling/abuse is obviously not ok..."

And this is a great point because arguing with the intent to solve a problem is more likely to end with a clear way to move forward while arguing out of habit or just to prove your partner wrong only leaves you both more frustrated and stressed out.


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Tameka [@teanhoneybread] said it becomes a problem when you’re: "Arguing about the same things repeatedly and/or arguing the same way (sans resolution) repeatedly."

Her response builds on Alexis’ in pointing out the importance of focusing on finding a resolution.

If you're arguing about the same things over and over, that's a sign of deeper issues you might be dealing with.


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A video posted by Jay Cadet (@jaycadet) on

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But then there’s one point made by Dr. John Gottman in his book, “Why Marriages Succeed Or Fail” that offered another great perspective to this question.

It’s not about whether you argue or not, but it’s about the balance between the amount of positive moments vs. the amount of negative moments you have in your relationship.

The Ideal Ratio

Throughout years of research with hundreds of couples, he found there was a very specific ratio of positive to negative moments within a relationship that’s accurately tied to whether the relationship will last or fail.

That ratio is 5 to 1.

Which means that as long as there are five times as much positive feelings and interactions between you and your partner than negtive, according to his research, your relationship is more likely to be stable than not.

Which is amazing, because it gives hope to the couples out there who find themselves passionately arguing from time to time.

It also gives hope to single people, like my boy, whenever he sees couples bickering and arguing with each other.

As long as those couples can continue to create moments that leave them both feeling good more often than they’re arguing or feeling bad, they should be okay.

But to maintain that type of balance takes an effort, especially during the more troubling times in your relationship.

In my last blog, I listed 7 things you and your partner should never stop doing for each other, and these are perfect ways for you to create more positive moments in your relationship. You can find it here.

So what are your thoughts on arguing in a relationship? At what point do you believe it actually becomes a problem for you and your mate?

Leave a comment and let me know. Also, don't forget to share this post with your friends. Thanks!