Thirty Percent

I hadn’t seen Mark and Ellie in a couple of months due to illness and scheduling issues. When I asked them how they were doing, Mark said they were okay. He initially said they were arguing half of the time, and then corrected himself and said maybe thirty percent of the time.

My reaction—which I didn’t share—was that’s a lot of time together spent arguing. It sounded so unpleasant and made me wonder what percentage of time couples do argue. The couples literature and research isn’t presented in this way, and this was the first time a couple presented arguments as a percentage of the time they spent together.

Disagreements are a natural part of relationships, but arguments or fights are when couples escalate their differences. I was thinking that successful couples argue or fight maybe 5% of the time or less, maybe even 10% of the time, but 30% or more seemed so unnecessary.

So Mark and Ellie made me think about couples in a different way. Now I’m curious what percentage of the time couples do argue or fight, with the goal of reducing this percentage to acceptable levels.