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Living together: the 5 most common arguments & how to navigate them

Living together: the 5 most common arguments & how to navigate them

When two people are living together they have their varying opinions, life experiences, and personalities. So it’s safe to assume that arguments will be inevitable. As the song goes, we’re only human, after all.

But when an argument becomes overwhelming, and it feels like you’re going over the same issue repeatedly, it’s normal to want an outside perspective. Believe it or not, many long-term couples argue over the same topics. 

Think of it as part of the territory of spending a lot of time with another person.

When you’re living together, arguing is healthy because it means you both care enough about the relationship to work for it. It also means that you’re communicating rather than bottling things up. A 2008 study even showed that couples who argued lived longer than those who didn’t.

What’s important to keep in mind, though, is arguing effectively. This includes bringing up touchy subjects during the right time, listening to what your partner tells you, and focusing on your feelings rather than being right.

With those arguing foundations in mind, let’s talk about what are the most common relationship arguments when two people are living together. And how you can navigate them with your partner.

Spending quality time together

Do you feel like you’re constantly asking your partner to spend time with you, yet they answer: 

“What do you mean!? We spend so much time together!”

Let’s clarify: quantity and quality are nowhere near the same thing when spending time with your partner. And different people might have different ideas of what quality time means. While they might think watching Netflix on the couch each night is quality, you may feel the complete opposite.

To navigate wanting more quality time together, get clear on what that looks like for you. Do you want to spend time that’s phone-free? Are you fighting for alone time with your partner, sans their friends?

Once you feel clear about what you want, then comes the communication part. Explain to your partner why quality time is important to you and the changes you’d like to make. Listen to their responses or concerns, but be sure to stand firm in what you believe is fair.

How you two spend your money

Let’s face it: money habits vastly differ from person to person. Maybe your parents taught you to save money while your partner’s parents didn’t teach them any money-saving habits. Or maybe one of you loves to eat out while the other likes to save money and cook at home.

My boyfriend and I have different hobbies and, therefore, spend our money differently. I love plants and books while my boyfriend collects rare whiskey. For a while, neither of us understood the other’s desire to add to our collection.

Yet, when we focused on the similarities, things became less of an issue. Instead of saying my boyfriend’s whiskey collection was a “waste of money,” I considered it equivalent to the books I’ve bought over the years.

Instead of labeling how they spend their money as an issue, understand your partner’s “why.” However, if you believe their habits might be financially hurting them, explain your concerns and offer to come up with a solution together.

Sex

Chances are you and your partner will have different sexual desires, preferences, and times when you’re turned on. It might feel like a frustrating topic, but it might not be as big of a discrepancy as you think.

Most couples find success when they talk about their sexual desires. You might be cool with doing it once or twice a week, while they’d love to do it 2-3 times a week. That’s only a difference of one time.

If you feel like your partner doesn’t know what actually turns you on, they probably don’t. Talking about sex can also open the floor about your sexual desires and preferences. About whether you need to make sex a priority or not. Of course, the same goes for listening to what they desire and what they prioritize.

This talk is best had when you’re both calm, cool, and collected. Avoid having it right before or after sex. Hormones can get in the way of a logical, effective conversation.

Chores

I’d be delusional not to include chores in the most common arguments between a couple living together. Heck, even my boyfriend and I argue about chores. It’s a touchy subject because they’re something that no one wants to do, but they have to be done anyways. And, unfortunately, they’re not something that can be perfectly split.

If your partner didn’t wash the dishes last night, or you’re always getting bugged to take out the trash, then listen up! You’ll want to find a system that works for you instead of hoping things will miraculously change.

For example, my boyfriend doesn’t like to clean up as quickly as I do, which isn’t necessarily wrong or right– it’s just different from me. To solve this issue, we came up with a system in which I would ask him to do a chore by a specific time. That way, he feels like there’s more of a deadline.

A system where you take turns doing chores or assigning certain tasks to one person may work in your relationship. Creating a schedule might also help. Don’t be afraid to test specific systems until you find one that helps you avoid repeating the same arguments.

Spending time apart

Whether it’s how much time you spend on your hobbies or how often they hang out with their friends, time apart tends to be a sore subject for many couples. But, as great as living together can be, spending time apart is great. It’s a healthy and important way to ensure your sense of identity within a relationship. 

So how do you tackle this issue?

First, it’s important to understand where your partner is coming from. Why do they feel upset when you spend time away from them? What emotions are brought up for them? Is there a simple solution, like texting them updates? Sending them a touch?

As for your partner, explain to them why you value your interests outside of the relationship. For most people, it’s a chance to recharge, do things they love, and come back to the relationship feeling happy.

By focusing on the “why” behind the argument when you spend time apart, you can better address the deeper feelings at play. 

Bonus: try talking about ways to support each other while pursuing interests and goals outside of the relationship.

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