Want to know exactly which arguments to avoid if your relationship is going to go the distance? Heads up - they're not what you'd think...
You’re halfway through a really nice dinner in a really nice restaurant when he says it.
He repeats the sentence.
And that’s that. Before you know it, your fork has clattered to the floor and you’ve stormed outside.
Everybody knows that relationships are tough sometimes. Put two people in the same room for long enough, and we’re willing to bet that they’ll think about killing each other. After all, there’s a reason why Mother Theresa was considered saintly – and it’s probably got something to do with never having to share a bed with a duvet thief.
But some arguments are harder to come back from than others. Which is why we’re particularly grateful for the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia study, which followed over 4,000 couples over ten years to analyse which arguments cause the most long term problems. And the results are kind of surprising…
THE SMOKING ARGUMENT
This is one of those should-have-seen-it-coming fights, which somehow we still, well, never see coming. Yep, apparently couples where one partner smokes and one partner doesn’t are headed for a fall. It doesn’t matter if the non-smoker pretends not to care, and it doesn’t matter if the nicotine-fiend plans to quit: the study shows that long term dissatisfaction is on the horizon unless you can match up your habits.
THE ADVENTURE ARGUMENT
‘Oh, but opposites attract,’ reassured your friend when you started dating a guy who doesn’t eat rare meat and has never owned a passport. ‘You’ll totally bring him out of his shell.’
Sorry to burst your heart-shaped bubble, but she was wrong. If you’re inherently adventure-seeking while your partner is all about the homecooked dinners, the study claims you’re likely to find yourselves bickering on a regular basis – and resenting each other into the long term. But while the thrill seeker amongst you is at risk of judging their partner for holding them back, for their lover it all comes down to jealousy. ‘Both men and women, but particularly men, do not like it if their partner is too adventurous, perhaps fearing they may cheat,’ writes Lucy Battersby in the Sydney Morning Herald.
THE STRESSED OUT ARGUMENT
According to the study, if your male partner is struggling with stress, depression or anxiety and takes it out on you, then you’re at risk of a split. Some experts reckon that this could be because men are socialised not to ask for help – meaning that while you feel your boyfriend is starting fights for the sake of it, it’s actually because he’s dealing with something big, and you just don’t know about it.
THE SURPRISE WINDFALL ARGUMENT
It’s one of the most fun discussions to have with your partner; ‘if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with it?’ But if you’re lucky enough to benefit from a surprise windfall, you’re instantly at risk of fighting about it – and breaking up. Or at least, you are if you’re dating or living together – oddly enough, the study found that married couples who came into a sudden lump sum of cash managed to weather the spending spree and stay together.
THE EDUCATION ARGUMENT
Left school at 16 while your partner completed a PHD? Own a Masters Degree in neurology, while your boyfriend didn’t finish his AS levels? It shouldn’t matter, but according to the study, it does. Revealing that women were particularly susceptible to feeling unhappy if their boyfriends had a higher level of education, this research reveals that once the shine of a new relationship has worn off, academic differences are likely to trigger frequent arguments and long term problems.
THE GETTING-OLDER ARGUMENT
OK, OK, this isn’t an argument as such – but if you’re still with your partner in your 40s and 50s, you need to prepare yourself for a pretty tricky decade. According to the study, the older we get, the more likely we are to feel dissatisfied in our relationships, and we’re likely take it out on each other as a result. But there’s hope – if you can grin and bear it into your 60s, you might just go the distance. br>