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Is it OK If a Couple is Constantly Bickering in the Relationship? Let’s Find Out!

Is it OK If a Couple is Constantly Bickering in the Relationship? Let’s Find Out!

Updated on Apr 22, 2022 | Published on Mar 23, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Bickering - Definition, Benefits, Signs, and How to Stop It

Have you been in a relationship where you find yourself or your partner bickering constantly? It can be couple bickering, family bickering or bickering friends.

If you just nodded yes, let me tell you, you aren’t alone.

Bickering often reflects your comfort zone with the other person because you know they wouldn’t leave you, no matter what.

And slowly you start taking them for granted which results in a series of fights. The constant bickering is definitely a red flag in any healthy relationship.

However, few also consider it as good news in a long-term relationship. So, before landing on a conclusion if bickering is good or bad, let us know what bickering means.

Bickering definition

Summary
By dictionary, bickering means to argue over things that are not important.

If you are looking for a dictionary meaning, it means ‘to argue over things that are not important.’

So, if you are fighting over who left the toilet seat open this morning, you are bickering. Because instead of mutually deciding on the solution, you are focusing on the problem.

Moreover, it is not such a big problem that calls for such a big fight with your partner.

Hence, bickering means arguing or fighting with your partner for irrelevant and unimportant matters. If this happens continuously in a long-term relationship, it can cause partners to separate because of frustration.


What does bickering mean in a relationship?

Summary
If two partners are in a relationship for long-term, it often leads to small fights throughout the day for various reasons, that is called bickering. Healthy bickering doesn’t lead to arguments.

Even healthy relationships go through the phase of bickering. It is a form of letting off your frustration on your partner. 

All of us have complaints when we see our expectations unfulfilled. Gradually, these unmet expectations lead to bickering. You start fighting over petty issues with your partner and behave in a childish manner.

On the contrary, bickering is also a form of love for some couples. You will see your mother bickering every day about how your father forgets his medicine and only has it when she reminds him.

Here, she bickers every day because she cares for him and loves him. It is her care that took the form of bickering.

So, in any relationship, bickering can be either because of frustration or care. Whenever you find yourself in overwhelming situations in a relationship, you will see yourself bickering. 


Benefits of bickering

Oh! Bickering is not always bad in long term relationships. You will also find some benefits linked to it, including…

1. It boosts understanding

When you bicker with your partner time-to-time, you communicate your needs and inform them that their actions make you upset. 

When you communicate this effectively, it will only develop an understanding between you two and make your bond stronger.

2. It’s good for you

I know it is depressing to fight over small things like keeping your shoes in the shoe rack. But bickering can make you feel better because you can ultimately say to yourself “I made my point”.

This way, you remind them about their habits and also feel relieved by placing your perception in light.

We all know that everyone is different, but the challenge is to accept these differences. Who knows that your partner might change their habit by your constant bickering?

3. It structures your relationship.

Initially, every new thing seems hard, and you feel like quitting. The same is with your bickering. If your partner constantly bickers, you feel like getting away from them in the beginning. 

But after a period of time, you get habituated to their bickering and then you two can sit and laugh about it once your partner calms down.

This way, bickering also structures your relationship by adding the fun element.

4. Helps is anger-cleaning

Have you noticed that you clean well when you are angry? So, thank your partner that they made you bicker, and you could clean the entire mess in the house within no time! 😉

5. Watch new shows as a make-up tactic

After a lot of bickering, when you want to show your partner that you do not care for them, you can switch on to shows they never let you watch. 

This way, you get some quality ‘me-time’ and watch shows that you have never watched before. Who knows if you can get your new favorite show?

6. Leads to online shopping

When you make purchases during bickering, I swear your partner won’t even dare to stop you.

Thus, you can buy everything that your partner thought were unnecessary expenses in front of them without their interference. Oh, thank me later for this one!

7. You can take a quick bicker nap

If you have kids at home, I can understand that you crave naps. So, after bickering, why don’t you go to your room, shut the door, and have a quick bicker nap?

You will see when you move out of the room; your partner has already solved your problem, and you also got time to sleep.

8. You can have a couple of drinks extra

Again, you get a brownie point here. Have a couple of drinks to remove your frustration, and your partner will let you do it to remove your anger.

However, don’t overdo it as it may become overwhelming, and you may go out of control.

9. Lets you indulge in some me-time peacefully

Shut your bathroom door, switch on Netflix, and select your favorite movie since there is nobody to disturb you now.

10. You can scroll your phone without guilt

I know you love your phone, and when you spend a lot of time scrolling social media, you feel guilty. But now, after a bickering session, don’t you have a justifiable reason to do the same?

All these benefits may make it look like bickering is enjoyable, but there is a lot of difference between arguing and bickering. Let us check out a few.


Arguing vs Bickering

Summary
While bickering can have positive or negative effects, arguing always has negative effects.

Bickering is a thing for almost all couples. However, you are in a trap if you think arguing with your partner indicates bickering.

The two are quite different and can impact the health of a relationship. So before proceeding further, let us discuss where the difference lies.

ArguingBickering
Involves hurtful intentions and criticisms.Involves heated discussion over silly things.
Displays the negative side of a relationship.May be positive for a relationship if under control.
Indicates you want to escape your relationship.Indicates you are still in love with your partner.

So now you understand the difference between bickering and arguing with your partner. Bickering is not necessarily a flaw in a relationship, whereas arguments are breaking points of relationships.

If you criticize or hurt your partner through your words or vice versa, you are taking your relationship towards a pool of arguments.

However, fighting over little run-of-the-mill things while you still love your partner the same way says you are bickering and bingo, you are in the safe zone!


Why do couples bicker?

You bicker quite often with your partner but have no idea where it starts and ends. And most important of all, why does it even happen?

Well, bickering might be a silly debate but has a lot of hidden causes leading to it.

So, if you are tired of the bickering and searching for ways to control it, we have got you covered. 

But first, let us find out why couples bicker.

1. It’s a way of distraction

Bickering often results when you look for a distraction. Distraction, in a sense, is an alternative way to your stress and worries. 

You won’t even realize that in order to release stress, you have taken to bickering. It could be as silly as complaining about your partner’s dress on the way to the office when you are too stressed about your presentation or meeting. 

You would realize there is nothing actually wrong with your partner’s dress. But you are just avoiding the stress about your meeting and shifting it towards petty debates with your partner. 

2. Because the communication is off!

As mentioned earlier, if you bicker, it means you are still in love with your partner. It is true, at least from the course of our discussion. 

You must know that lack of communication is a major setback for relationships and might eventually lead to a toxic relationship.

However, bickering lets you communicate with your partner, though not in a healthy manner.

So you and your partner might find ways to communicate through bickering rather than not communicating at all. Well, maybe you cannot stay without talking to them, so you start bickering. 

3. It adds some fun

It might not have occurred to you, but bickering can bring fun to your relationship. It is a big reason why many couples bicker and seek fun and recreation in it. 

When you bicker, you are together with your partner in it, which is better than avoidance and unsettled arguments. 

It lets you spend time with the person you love and look forward to them for mental sparing.

So, the reason why couples bicker might be as simple as they might want to add fun to their relationship.

4. There’s a lack of gratitude

Expressing gratitude for everything you are and have is important for a healthy relationship.

Bickering often starts when you lack gratitude and start scorekeeping in your relationship and rather focus on silly things like who is doing what. 

You fail to realize each other’s responsibilities and play a blame game of who is working more.

The lack of positive affirmation on what you and your partner are is a major fuel for bickering. Who knows you are taking your partner’s responsibilities and efforts for granted?

5. You both don’t forgive

Hurt feelings from the past may lead to bickering. It indicates that you lack trust and forgiveness in your relationship and have not moved on or got past it.

You might hold grudges against your partner over silly things and make it a matter of your bickering sessions. 

So, if you still wonder why you debate over little things, see the other way round, and you will realize you need to practice forgiveness and instill trust in your relationship.

6. There are a lot of differences

You get too busy comparing your differences and wanting your partner to be like you to realize you have started bickering.

You are not ready to accept and honor the differences between you and your partner and debate over little things.

As a matter of fact, it just deteriorates the communication quality in your relationship when you seek to bicker over little differences, which you must accept and mutually understand.

7. It’s a part of defense mechanism

Bickering can also be an act of defense when your partner tries to take control of you or vice versa. 

You might try to prove your partner wrong and yourself right, and in the whole game, bickering wins.

So, it is a major reason why couples bicker and choose to defend themselves and seek power rather than understanding their fault.

So if your bickering comes under any of the above-mentioned causes, you understand why you debate over a silly dress.


What does it mean when a couple constantly bickers?

Summary
Constant bickering is usually due to frustration and unresolved issues. It ultimately leads to a loss of trust and respect for your partner.

You will observe that many couples don’t discuss some matters because they know that their partner wouldn’t agree with them. But is that a real solution to the problem?

If you see a couple constantly bickering, most times, it is because one person is unable to understand the situation of the other one.

They are not ready to accept each other’s perspectives and are constantly trying to prove their partner wrong. 

It is because when they get stubborn while fighting, they fail to realize that there can be two correct perspectives to a situation.

It is not necessary for one of them to be incorrect. But in the process of proving themselves right, they end up bickering and fighting, which creates a tiff in the relationship. 

The only solution to this is to respect each other’s opinions and listen to your partner. If you have restricted your ears to only your story, nobody can make you understand a different perspective. 

So, a constantly bickering couple only shows a lack of respect and trust in their spouse.


Signs you are bickering too much

Bickering does not necessarily indicate an unhealthy relationship if it is under control. However, there might be instances when it might take a toll and drive your relationship towards chaos.

So, understanding when you are bickering too much is necessary. Here are a few signs you must consider to figure out if you and your partner are bickering too much.

1. You both argue at inappropriate times and places

Home is a safe and appropriate space for bickering, as most couples do. So, bickering privately is not a big issue. 

But when your bickering begins to affect your surroundings, you know it is the stopping point for bickering and a starting point for a bigger problem. 

If you bicker at parties, family gatherings, and outings with friends, you are bickering too much when you should really be focusing around and having a good time.

3. Either of you’re stuck in the bickering episode

Bickering happens, and couples move on. But if you find yourself stuck in the thoughts of your bickering episodes for a long time, you must know it is not normal and ‘you need to talk’.

Thinking about bickering when it is done and dusted might indicate frequent bickering episodes and hence, bigger problems in your relationship. So, it is high time to seek couples’ therapy.

4. You take it to social media

Things worsen when you take your bickering online on social media platforms and fill your friends and family feed with your private matters.

It might trick you when you think you are taking relationship advice rather than airing your dirty laundry. 

So, if you find yourself bickering with your partner online more than offline chats, it is a sign your bickering is out of control.

5. You find thrill in chaos

Some couples might take bickering as a thrilling and entertaining act in their relationship. But it might grow toxic with time as you seek to bicker quite often for entertainment purposes and find yourself addicted to negative emotions. 

So, you must realize the difference between entertainment and excessive bickering before your relationship falls into a toxic loop.

6. The fear of disagreement is taking over

You might avoid confrontations with your partner from the fear of upsetting them or falling into disagreements. You fear the chances for another argument.

It is a clear sign that you have been bickering with your partner in an unhealthy way and too much, which leads you to such an avoiding situation.

7. It leads to a heated argument

As mentioned earlier, there are differences between bickering and argument. So, if you find yourself arguing quite often and it has become your way of communication, the bickering has taken a negative zone. 

8. You prefer silence over talking to your partner

Amid the clouds of your bickering episodes, you might eventually find yourself in a situation where you prefer not to talk with your partner and seek silence. 

It indicates you are bickering so much that you do not know how to have a real conversation without it. Hence, avoiding communication with your partner is not a good sign.

Hence, through these signs, you know where the red flags lie. So, before the quote ‘too much of anything is dangerous’ starts applying to your relationship, you must sort things out.

Let me also tell you a few….


Signs Bickering is leading to a bigger relationship problem

If you have a habit of bickering and don’t want to hurt your partner, watch out for these signs before you land a serious relationship problem.

You can tell that the pit is too deep…

1. If it leads to accusations and assaults

Do not ever call names to your partner or accuse them of cheating or not caring about you when it is untrue. If you do this, you are putting your relationship at stake.

If you don’t watch out for it, bickering will become a cycle in no time and hamper your relationship. So, you have to interrupt it in some way.

Moreover, try to avoid ‘you’ statements. For example, you are the reason why this happened. No, don’t blame your partner for anything; instead, sit and communicate to fix your problem.

2. If you cannot mend it

There are times when you realize your mistake after you have bickered a lot about it. In such cases, are you waiting for a matter to blow over? Or, do you think your partner will reject your apology?

If any of these situations are true, my dear, you are already in a big problem. Because if you don’t feel heard or understood by your partner, isn’t that a red flag already?

3. If you want nobody to hear about it

I don’t say that you should fight among people. But if you feel ashamed of others listening to your bickering, you have already entered the dooming phase of your relationship.

It is because you know that your partner may call out names or behave in an indifferent manner while bickering, which you do not want others to know.

So, if you cannot handle bickering with your partner in front of your family or friends, your relationship is in trouble.

4. If you avoid certain topics

Well, bickering is not always unhealthy. So, don’t stop discussing certain topics with your partner for fear of fighting.

Because if you do so, you aren’t saving your relationship but damaging it more in the long run.

It becomes a problem when you constantly try to defend yourself on a particular topic rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Moreover, why don’t you ensure that you do not bring up past issues at the time of fighting?

Every problem has a solution which we can bring only by communicating with our partner. Hence, healthy discussions are necessary.

But there are also…


Signs when bickering is not a problem

If you know about the signs when bickering is a problem, you should also know about the signs when it is not.

So, here are a few…

1. If you can communicate about it later

If you think it is an inappropriate time to discuss a topic because of the heat in the room, wait. Take some time and let the matter cool. Calm your partner, and then put up your points.

Communicating with your partner only shows that you are open to seeing a broader picture and making the relationship work.

For you, no argument is more important than your partner, and this ideology makes you a stronger couple.

2. If you can move on easily

Bickering will not affect your relationship if you have any positive interactions from it. Yes, out of five, one situation may result in an argument. But, the overall graph is still positive.

Such bickerings do not ruin your day.

But if you think you end up arguing over any small topic, sit down with your partner and talk.

3. If you can laugh about it

If your bickering ends up with not talking to each other for a long period, there is something to think about your relationship.

But, if you two have sporty spirits and have the courage to laugh about it in the later stages, such small bickering cannot ruin your beautiful relationship.

4. If you focus on the solution

Bickering will never be a problem in any relationship if you focus on trying to look for a solution.

Instead of focusing on your partner’s actions and what they did to ruin the situation, sit with them and figure out what you can do next.

Once you adopt this ideology, you will see that no amount of bickering can affect your relationship.

But if you are wondering of ways to stop bickering altogether, here are a few.


How to stop bickering?

Yes, it is possible to stop bickering and have a successful relationship with your partner. Don’t be amazed and just follow these steps.

1. Stop trying to be the winner.

What will you even gain if you become the winner of the argument? It will still seem like a hollow victory that drifts you apart from your partner.

So, instead of trying to win every important thing, focus on your partner and your relationship.

2. Work on your relationship

Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist, says that you should always focus on establishing your bond. Once you do that, the rest can be taken care of.

You tend to fight more with your partner when your bond decreases. So, focus on spending positive time together and consider each other above everything else. You will notice that soon petty issues won’t be a part of your life.

3. Fight fair

Often when couples fight, one person speaks, and the other listens. If it is what is happening in your relationship, you will never be able to come over the bickering process.

If you want to fight, be fair. A person can never make a judgment before hearing both sides. So, give your partner also the space and time to talk and listen to them attentively.

Maybe, you will get a perspective that you never knew of, and the problem can be resolved.

4. Discuss face-to-face

Another mistake we all make is that we share our problems in the text. Well, it is evidently not going to help your relationship.

Most times, when you are upset, you will be typing at a light speed and send over a text without even thinking. This is an absolutely wrong thing to do.

Always discuss your problems face-to-face as you can have better insights into your partner’s actions and can make them understand your point of view.

5. Opt for help

If the problem between the two of you is because you lack the time or feel tired, why don’t you seek some external help? Hire a maid who can help you with the chores or appoint an assistant to streamline your office work.

If none of these is possible, change your job or working hours and spend more time with your partner to stop bickering.

6. Set up a positive day

The best way to stop bickering is to start your day positive. Give your partner a morning kiss or hug them before leaving for office.

When you start on a positive note and have connected physically, you can always let go of some matters and stop bickering.

7. Acknowledge your partner’s efforts

Acknowledging your partner’s efforts is an important part of any relationship, whether you are one of those bickering couples or not.

A relationship often gets into trouble when a partner feels unappreciated. So, thank your partner for everything they do for you and your family.

8. Adjust the tone of voice

Sometimes your tone of voice raises a problem. You might be discussing a problem, but your tone of voice would only add up to the problem if not checked.

So, do not discuss issues with your partner while you are drunk, hungry, or tired.

9. Connect sexually

Doesn’t bickering feel childish or sibling type to you? To stop it, involve yourself sexually with your partner, and you will see how these petty issues vanish away.

10. Address underlying resentments

At times, a fight increases because you have not solved your previous problems. If you have a habit of blowing away your problems, you will see them arising every time you argue.

So, sit and communicate with your partner and sort out your problems. If needed, even seek some professional help from some couple’s counselor.


Questions to ask to address bickering issues in relationship

Why don’t you address some simple questions and stop your bickering all at once?

  1. What are you trying to bicker about? Just say that to your partner and finish off the matter. It could be as simple as ‘I don’t want to watch a movie tonight.’
  2. Question yourself “Is it really important for me?” or “Does this really matter in my life?”
  3. Most times, you will find out that a petty issue has nothing to do with your life and doesn’t matter to you much. But if it does, figure out a reason why it does and present it to your partner along with the reason.

 If you still have some questions in your mind, the below FAQs will answer your doubts.


FAQs

1. How does an old married couple bicker?

Have you noticed your grandparents bicker with each other? Well, who hasn’t? But does that mean that they don’t love each other? I bet you would want to have a love life like them. But then why do they bicker?

Well, they have been married together for a lifetime and hence, they have reached a comfort level with each other. They know that their little bickering is not going to blow off their partners and result in divorce or breakups as it happens in relationships.

So, you will constantly find your grandma bickering at your grandpa for not folding his shirt properly. And does your grandpa really mind it? The answer is NO. Because he is also used to bickering, the next day, he will still not fold his shirt, and the same bickering will continue out of love.

In fact, you will often find them laughing about it sometime later and then forget it completely.

But this is what we talked about positive bickering. There can be instances when bickering can take a severe nature and can create a tiff between the people.

According to Dr Gary Brown, a renowned relationship therapist in Los Angeles, you must note the frequency and tone of bickering. If you observe a dramatic change in this, you must speak to your partner. Also, you must ensure that you don’t insult your partner while bickering.

2. Is bickering a sign of affection?

Some people think that bickering is negative for a relationship and leads to arguments. There is another set of people who think that bickering reflects your affection for someone.

So, if you see a child wounded by playing in the garden, you will see that the parents start bickering. What brings out this bickering- annoyance or affection? I hope you got your answer that bickering is not always a sign of frustration.

Like a parent-child relationship, bickering can stand for affection in a romantic relationship too. So, the next time you see yourself bickering and consider it a negative effect, always question if the bickering is out of frustration or care.

3. Is bickering normal in a relationship?

Absolutely. You will find this, especially in long-term couples, since they have been together for a very long time and are aware of their partner’s habits. Moreover, they are not in the phase of impressing each other or giving them false hopes.

Hence, these couples portray themselves as they are and communicate their expectations to their partner in the form of bickering.

It is because they think their partner already knows what they want without communicating their needs. Hence, bickering doesn’t always come with a red flag. And as far as it is out of love and affection, it is very normal in every relationship.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Now that you know what bickering is, I don’t have to tell you to avoid it. A little bickering will only add love syrup to your relationship and help it blossom. But you must know exactly how much to add to your garden of love.

If you feel confused, before reaching out to anyone else about your problems, speak to your partner. Sit and figure out the cause and effect of any action before things worsen.

Apart from that, you already know the signs of bickering. So, I expect you to carefully observe your relationship and look for them. If you see them existing, use our ‘How to stop bickering?’ section to go back to normalcy.