“Irreconcilable differences” – we’ve all heard that phrase before. When celebrities break up, it’s typically the first reason they cite as the source of their crumbling marriage.
But what about the rest of us? Sadly, it’s extremely common for people to feel like they no longer share a connection with their spouse. They begin to fear that their marriage won’t last because of their constant arguing and differing in opinions.
You might think that conflict like this would be a predictor of a marriage doomed to failure. But you know what? You’d be wrong.
Studies show that avoidance, rather than confrontation is the number one predictor of divorce among couples. In other words, a couple who never fights is at a greater risk of divorce than one who does.
Though fighting isn’t always a good thing, at least there is some communication happening. If you feel as if you and your spouse never talk, because when you talk it inevitably leads to an argument, you might be doing more harm to your relationship than you realize. Though we try to avoid conflict at all costs, ultimately, there is nothing more damaging to a marriage than NOT fighting.
Sometimes we forget, but love and hate are not opposites. If you and your partner can still get fired up and angry, there is still something there. It’s when it breaks down to nothing, and there is just apathy, that the love truly seems to fizzle.
The closer you are with someone, the more likely you will butt heads about one thing or another. That’s a good sign. I like to say: Hate is a sign of hope. It means there is still closeness and care. It might not feel like it in the moment, but it’s better than apathy.
Now I’m not saying you should go pick a fight with your spouse today. That’s not going to be productive. Frequent, angry, senseless outbursts are damaging to a relationship. A fight won’t magically improve your marriage. No, what I’m saying is – healthy marriages involve some element of fighting. So, the fact that you fight with your spouse is a sign that deep down, there is still love between you. The relationship has potential. There is something worth fighting for.
But if you fight often, and want a happier marriage, the next step is learning how to fight well. Long term couples need to know how to discuss their differences without it turning into a big fight every time. And when a fight does erupt, there are effective methods at relaying each person’s side of the story. It’s a learned skill.
But remember, every couple is going to have areas where they disagree. No two people are perfectly compatible. That phrase - “irreconcilable differences” - that people use as an excuse to divorce… well, that’s just part of a marriage. There will always be differences and you won’t always see eye to eye.
The key to a successful relationship is not finding the right person - it's learning to fight well with the person you found. You'll have "irreconcilable differences" with anyone you end up with. It just comes down to how well you can articulate them to your partner.