New Research Sheds Light on How Happy Couples Argue

In marriage, conflict is inevitable. Even the happiest couples argue. And research shows they tend to argue about the same topics as unhappy couples: children, money, in-laws, intimacy.


So, what distinguishes happy couples? According to “What are the Marital Problems of Happy Couples? A Multimethod, Two-Sample Investigation,” a study published this August, it is the way happy couples argue that may make a difference.


Researchers noted that couples similarly ranked their most and least serious issues. Intimacy, leisure, household, communication, and money were the most serious, as well as health for the older couples; couples ranked jealousy, religion, and family as the least serious.


When researchers observed couples discussing marital problems, all couples focused on issues with clearer solutions, such as the distribution of household labor and how to spend leisure time. The couples rarely chose to argue about issues that are more difficult to resolve. This strategic decision may be one of the keys to their marital success. 


If couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues. In other words, couples may want to choose their battles wisely.