In an ideal relationship, both partners would be perfectly suited for each other, and might even happily put up with their partner's faults.
But real life doesn't work that way.
Even if you and your spouse bicker (like, constantly) that doesn't mean your relationship is hopeless.
In fact, couples who argue regularly seem to have some of the strongest relationships - as long as they argue the right way.
Happy Couples Do Fight
The Guardian reported on a survey of 1,000 people who described their past relationships, and the results were surprising.
More than 80% of people surveyed blamed poor communication for ruining one of their past relationships. More than half the respondents said it was a major cause of their breakup.
And worryingly, only 1 in 5 people said they were usually to blame for the lack of dialogue in their relationship.
Still, even the bad results weren't all bad. Among people who argued effectively with their spouse, couples were 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship.
Relationship guru and author Joseph Grenny says that fighting with your partner isn't always a sign of trouble. In fact, he urges couples to have what he calls "crucial conversations."
"True love takes work," he said. "Real intimacy is not just about love but is also about truth."
The relationship expert offers these tips to couples who want to argue without splitting up:
- Manage your thoughts to avoid lashing out. Think through what you want to say and communicate it effectively.
- Make rational judgements. Don't overreact or let your emotions get the best of you. Think about the problem you're facing and try to solve it together.
- Affirm your partner's feelings. Before you jump into a list of pent-up complaints, tell your partner that you appreciate their feelings and understand their decisions.
- Invite your partner to contribute. An ideal argument is really a dialogue between two people. Don't try to dominate or "win" the conversation.
An Argument Where Everyone Wins
Grenny isn't the only person who has spent time studying bickering couples.
A pair of psychologists from the University of Washington and the University of California at Berkeley spent almost 15 years studying dozens of married couples.
They learned that successful partnerships were built on good habits, which included how a couple argued and settled disagreements.
For one thing, the typical argument for successful couple was not a short, angry event. It was a long, drawn out problem that couples spent hours or even days working through.
That included calm discussions about the argument itself after the fact.
Of course, listening to your partner's argument with an open mind tends to help both people move past their disagreement.
The key is not to dismiss your partner's complaints, but to work through them together and build a solution as a couple.
Another study from The Journal of Marriage and Family found that "positive engagement" during a fight - as in careful listening and calm discussion - made a pair less likely to get divorced.
Is It Possible To Never Argue?
While most experts focus on how to argue with your spouse, another suggests you never have to argue at all.
Clinical psychologist Susan Heitler says that good couples don't have to argue to solve their problems, just "talk cooperatively."
The difference, she says, is that arguing couples are trying to find a way for both partners to "win" the fight instead of actually addressing their problems.
She stresses that couples should build mutual understanding through calm, cooperative dialogue that never feels combative.
"Marriage works best when you both aim to stand together," said Heitler, "united against the problems, not pitted against each other."
She recommends couples who are always at odds to avoid judgement, stop using hurtful language, and show respect for their partners during an argument - or a "cooperative talk."