Maybe your battles haven’t reached reality TV-worthy levels, like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna, but if you’re in a relationship, chances are you’ve picked a fight.
“A lot of times we pick fights not because there’s something going on with our relationship, but because something’s going on with us,” says clinical psychologist Rudi Rahbar, PsyD.
Whether you’re in a bad mood, had a bad day at work, or whatever—there’s something about calling him out on that pile of clothes in the corner that feels so right. But that’s definitely not helping your relationship, says Rahbar.
To help you fight less and love more, we asked relationship experts for the things that aren’t worth throwing down over. Plus, they break down the right way to address those issues without a screaming match.
It’s a gross, germ-infested job that neither one of you (understandably) is excited to take on. But every home has trash that needs to be taken out on the regular, so it’s in your best interest to determine whose job it is to do so. “This is the most stereotypical fight to come up in relationships, but that doesn’t make it worth a screaming match,” says Rahbar. If you really want him to take the trash out this time, sit down and have a calm conversation with him about why it’s so important for him to take the trash out instead of you, and be sure to include what other house chores you’re taking on in exchange.
“I hear this a lot among couples—he doesn’t tell you he’s going to see his family or will be hanging out with his friends in advance and you assume you’re hanging out together, so you don’t make any plans,” says Rahbar. If it’s an ongoing issue, it’s definitely worth discussing, but it’s not worth duking it out. Your best communication tactic is to explain how it makes you feel when he does this—for example, you feel disrespected when he doesn’t tell you his plans in advance. “He may not have realized that he’s doing it,” explains Rahbar. If he continues to leave you out of the loop, just have another discussion—or own that alone time like a boss.
The best way to squash this argument before it even starts is to enforce the rule that everyone washes their own clothes. This way you can’t criticize your partner. “So many of my patients come into my office complaining that one person does it all the time,” says Claudia Six, PhD, relationship coach and author of Erotic Integrity: How to Be True to Yourself Sexually. “But the solution is really simple—everyone has their own laundry basket and is responsible for washing their own clothes.” If you’re feeling generous and want to do your spouse’s wash, great, but picking a fight about the nitty-gritty details involved in it is not worth either of your time.
Aaah, the battle of the blankets—one person accuses the other of stealing the covers leaving them cold, while the other accuses them of shoveling the covers onto them so they’re too hot. “Unless you install a camera and have eight hours to watch it, you’ll likely never know who’s to blame,” says Six. Be grateful that you have someone you love in your bed or sleep somewhere else, she says.
He hits up a third bar and doesn’t let you know he’s going to be out late. Annoying? Yes. But Rahbar says it’s not worth the fight. “If he doesn’t tell you he’s going to be home later than you originally thought, picking a fight with him will only translate to the idea that you don’t want him to have a good time and even that you’re trying to control him,” she says. So the next morning, tell him when he doesn’t text you that you get worried that something might have happened to him. Coming from a place of love and concern in a calm manner will make a difference. If he agrees to fill you in when he’ll be home late but still leaves you in the dark, have a bigger discussion about how important it is to you and why you worry about him.
If one of you is really messy and the other is Instagram-worthy pristine, that can be tough. But this is just another situation that’s not worth arguing about (even though it might be the hardest one not to scream about). “Tell him you feel like his parent when he doesn’t pick up after himself and how it can lead to disrespect,” says Rahbar. If he agrees to change his habits, but still leaves crap everywhere, you can definitely have another conversation with him. If he still doesn’t change, you need to decide whether you’ll leave all his stuff where he drops it or if you’re willing to just pick up after him. Either way, that’s your choice, says Rahbar.
This one can get messy, but it doesn’t have to, says Six. No matter how complicated your family situations may be, don’t fight about it. “Get clear about what meaning you attach to the experience, share that with your partner, and create a win-win scenario that makes sense for both of your families.” Agreeing to alternate holidays each year is the easiest way to avoid conflict and make everyone happy, but find what works for both of you.