Couples fight less over time

WELLINGTON Thu Jul 3, 2008 8:53am BST

A couple kiss near Moscow's Red Square February 14, 2003. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin PP04020074 WAW/ACM

A couple kiss near Moscow's Red Square February 14, 2003.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin PP04020074 WAW/ACM

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Constantly fighting with your partner over the same thing? It might be worth hanging onto the relationship, with a recent survey finding couples argue less, and get better at resolving differences, with time.

The online survey, by New Zealand counselling firm Relationship Services, polled more than 1,500 couples in long-term relationships and found that 78 percent were having ongoing disagreements.

But the survey showed that people get better at handling disagreements, with those in relationships for three to seven years reporting a higher level of recurring disagreements than those in relationships lasting 21 years and more.

"People in longer relationships may have sorted out many of their differences, but it was also clear that they handle disagreements in ways that better support the relationship," said Hilary Smith of Relationship Services on the company's website.

"For a quarter of people, disagreements and how they dealt with them actually had a positive impact on how they felt about the relationship and their partner," Smith said.

The survey listed the money and financial security as the issue couples argue about most -- four out of ten people, regardless of income levels.

Parenting and childcare caused 35 percent of disputes, the survey said, and added strain to a relationship, with 86 percent of people who have children at home saying they have recurring disagreements, compared with 68 percent for those without kids.

Other common causes of disagreement are work pressures (31 percent), time pressures (29 percent), housework (26 percent) and sex (25 percent).

They survey also found that during arguments, men perceive women to nag them when they are talking, while more women complain that their partners do not listen.

"When counsellors hear the phrases 'nagging' or 'not listening', we know there is a communication issue in the relationship to work on," Smith said.

The survey, titled "Dealing with Disagreements", was conducted this year.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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