All couples have arguments about similar things, but not all couples argue the same way.

Although arguments should be minimized, ultimately there is no way to avoid strong disagreements. People have different life experiences, upbringing, values and expectations. When any one of them is mismatched among two or more people, an argument is inevitable. But just because an argument is inevitable, it doesn’t mean something is wrong or bad or needs to be avoided.

I contend that arguments are ubiquitous, healthy and natural – and there fore need to be embraced before they can be won.

Disagreements are very common. Take any two random people, place them in a confined space and give them a few hours to marinade and there is no doubt a disagreement about something will arise (no surprises). However, not all disagreements lead to arguments and when they do, not all arguments are the same.

For a disagreement to escalate in to a full-blown argument, in addition to a difference of opinions or preferences it’s also necessary that each side’s position is emotionally charged. A disagreement can only escalate to an argument only when there is a mismatch in values at the core. Yes, the disagreement might be about anything, but a heated argument requires that values are violated or expectations based on those values are misaligned.

The challenge with successfully navigating arguments and de-escalating animosity is that in the heat of the moment people concentrate on arguing about behaviors and fail to address the underlying values that are mismatched.

The only way to win an argument is to allow it to fizzle out with both parties content; both sides’ values validated and acknowledged. The quicker the violated values are brought up to the surface and acknowledged, the quicker an argument can be resolved.

When some people say that arguments are not a big deal and that they also argue with their parent or partner, there is something that’s always left unsaid. The bottom line is that while all couples argue from time to time, happy couples argue very differently from unhappy ones.

While researchers discover that most of the disagreements and arguments among cohabitating couples and spouses is perpetual – i.e. the same issues keep resurfacing, each argument in happy couples allows for understanding and commonality to ultimately form. In unhappy couples, because the core values violated aren’t brought up to the surface, not only does the argument becomes effectively indefinite but also an opportunity for resentment to form is amplified.

This is why “my way or highway” strategy to eliminating arguments doesn’t work. Avoidance might pause an argument from continuing, but it doesn’t resolve or diminish the disagreement, doesn’t allow for conversation to continue in hopes that both parties eventually end up on the same page, and creates a void to be filled by resentment. In the long run this is a recipe for a relationship death spiral filled with more arguments and more resentment. Left unchecked, this leads to an inevitable departure of one partner and the end of the relationship.

Many people believe that an argument can be “won” only when another party changes sides or at the very least only when a “compromise” is agreed on. This is not true at all – most argument’s are not about who is correct or right, they are about which values or boundaries were violated.

Ultimately, the quickest and easiest way to win an argument is to acknowledge the other party’s point as valid – for them and from their perspective – not necessarily valid for you. It’s not at all necessary to agree with their view or conclusion or expectations, it’s enough to communicate that while ¬†you also have certain values and expectations that are mismatched, that you can still acknowledge both sides’ points as valid given their different perspectives.

It will definitely take an effort to consider a situation from another person’s point of view, especially in the heat of the moment, but with practice your reward will be that every argument you find yourself in will always lead to a win-win resolution and over time you will encounter fewer and fewer arguments.