parent opinion

"It's always about the mental load." 25 couples share the 'one fight' they keep having over and over again.

Relationships are a hell of a lot of compromise. Lots of love, an argument here or there, and hopefully lots of resolution. But for many of us, there is one continual fight that crops up with our partner time and time again. 

Maybe it's your partner leaving the toilet seat up, failing to assist in home admin, having a differing view on parenting or maybe resentment over conflicting sex drives

As relationship coach Tara Blair Ball explained to Mamamia, all couples experience perpetual ongoing fights - often to do with one main problem, disagreement or clash. 

"Most fights that couples have will come down to poor communication. Every couple has at least one thing that they fight about again and again, that they can never seem to resolve. These are 'perpetual' or 'unsolvable' problems, and they're perfectly normal in a relationship," she said.

Watch Mamamia Confessions: The silliest thing I've had a fight over. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

Some of the classic signs of a perpetual problem are the following: 

  • Does the conflict always end the same way? 
  • Do you struggle to both find a compromise? 
  • And do you tend to feel not heard and frustrated every time it is discussed?

Although prolific, Tara Blair Ball suggests there are ways to 'solve' or 'soften' the fight.

"Get clear about what the problem is. Then prepare for a discussion - make sure to be clear that you don't want to blame or accuse. You want to focus on coming up with an outcome that works for the both of you. Know that working things out with your partner often takes time and patience, but it’s always worth it."

To unpack this more, we asked the Mamamia audience to share with us the one fight they always have with their partner, and how they have navigated the continual argument.

From the serious to the frivolous, here's what these 25 couples had to say.

A hetero couple in their 20s. Been together for three years.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I wish he would be more open with his feelings. The argument is often centred on me asking 'please share your emotions with me'. He tends to bottle things up and he doesn't think I need to know why he is feeling down. I guess his whole life he has been told his feelings don't matter and to hide them away. It takes a lot of communication and conversations to solve this issue."

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for 10 years. 

"At least once a week we have an argument in the car. Most of our fights are in the car, because we are both critical of one another's driving. It's to do with a lack of control and safety on my end, but we try to recognise the pattern and be patient with each other."

A hetero couple in their 40s. Been together for five years.

"We regularly argue about cleaning up around the house - the clutter, kitchen mess, loading the dishwasher. It's hard to live domestically with other people and partners, especially when you get together later in life and you're settled in your ways and you like things done a certain way. It's probably a weekly or fortnightly fight, and it often ends with me giving him the silent treatment. Relationships would be perfect if you didn't have to live with them. If I was a gazillionaire, I'd build two houses side by side and he'd live in one and I'd live in the other. We'd have cleaners and it would be bliss! "

A hetero couple, the woman in her 40s and the man in his 30s. Been together for 13 years.

"Money. I don't like having debt - I don't have a credit card or anything. He has a credit card, Afterpay, loans, zip pay. The fight is always about how to spend money or the lack of savings. We have differing views that makes things hard - the saver can never save because we are always paying off the spender's debt. It's not a very solvable problem. I just think women should always have a stash of cash held separately."

A hetero couple in their 50s. Been together for 30 years. 

"We have two main arguments - one of them is somewhat solvable, the other is definitely not. The first is whether to sell all our assets and go sailing/travelling - this is despite still having two boys at home. We have that argument three times a year, and it takes ongoing compromise. As for the second problem - anal sex. He wants it and I don't at all."

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for seven years. 

"We always end up arguing about something related to our one-year-old child. The fight almost always happens when our baby is crying, screaming, upset or sick. This is definitely a trigger that usually causes an argument. Of course, children cry often so the argument usually happens once a week, but we make sure never to go to bed angry. It's definitely caused us to have many discussions about how we can 're-parent' ourselves as we see that our behaviours are heavily influenced by how we were parented. We know that we both need to work through our own reactions to our daughter's crying."

ADVERTISEMENT

Image: Getty.

A hetero couple in their 20s. Been together for seven years. 

"We have differing sex drives which is frustrating. It keeps getting brought up because we are missing the mark with love languages and keep defaulting back to our comfort zones. We try to communicate about the problem, but it doesn't often work."

A same-sex couple in their 30s. Been together for six years. 

"The fight we always come back to is the one about where we live. We bought a pretty grown up house a few years back and have been renovating it. It's perfect for our dogs and nights in, but it's quite a drive away from our group of friends. I'm keen to stay, but my partner is desperate to move closer to mates, and now this has become the thing that all our bickering leads to. Even if we're trying to decide what to have for dinner, it ends up slipping back to the moving chat - like, 'well, there would be better Uber Eats options if we moved!' Honestly, never-ending."

A hetero couple in their 60s. Been together for 30 years. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We don't fight much, but there are sometimes misunderstandings. One of us will interpret something one way, and the other often sees it differently. Often, it just takes time to heal - he is a sulker."

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud: The elastic band relationship theory. Post continues after audio.


A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for 12 years.

"He doesn't do what he says he will, plus he never finishes the job completely. 'He's the king of the 80 per cent' I say. Honestly, it will take months if not years for him to start it and then it will sit at 80 per cent completed for another 12 months. Neither of us learn - I continue to believe him and he continues to promise."

A hetero couple in their 40s. Been together for seven years. 

"Division of the mental/emotional load. Context is he's away a lot in a defence role, so I carry a lot of it, but when he's home he better pick up the slack and in a big way, and my workload better halve. I have no tolerance for lazy men. We have a three-year-old and I'm pregnant with baby number two. He's working hard at change plus I relentlessly send him articles about the mental load and why women leave their husbands. Women need to speak up in their relationships especially about unfair divisions of labour. I'd rather be single than be my husband's slave/mother/house manager - and he is well aware of this!"

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for 18 years. 

"He never listens. He's been known to use the phrase 'it's not that I didn't listen it's that I didn't hear you' to which I will respond with something along the lines of 'you were f**king looking at me and nodding your f**king head'. In all seriousness we have a good relationship - I just wish he would be more present."

A hetero couple, the woman in her 50s and the man in his 60s. Been together for 35 years. 

"We fight over driving. He refuses to drive in traffic or anywhere he's not familiar, then tells me how I should be doing it, and where I should be going. It does my head in, so I get snappy. It feels like I'm always saying 'you didn't want to drive, just shut up and let me do it'. It's a constant point of tension. The reason why the fight keeps going is that his behaviour doesn't change and because my reaction to it doesn't change. It's mansplaining at its best and speaks of a complete lack of respect. That's what I react to."

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for 10 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We argue over how many presents we should buy our child for their birthday or Christmas. He thinks one but I always buy multiple. We will argue about it every time before one of those events occurs. I struggle to articulate my feelings, so it usually results in me storming off. I'm also the one who does the shopping, so it makes sense for me to make the decision."

A same-sex couple in their 50s. Been together for 20 years, with a break in between.

"It always leads back to one of us feeling burdened by the other. It may be that one of us feels there is an uneven distribution of financial or household responsibility, and is often exacerbated through work stress. Each of us think we are right and get into fixed mindsets where stress, blame and judgement results in an enormous blow up. After some time away from one another we hit reset without actually resolving the issue. So of course we end up in a horrid cycle. 

"It happens at least fortnightly - it can be so unpredictable. I do believe they are solvable. I am extremely forgiving. I have realised lately that I have been forgiving my partner before she has taken accountability for poor behaviour and treatment of me. My partner also carries on about wanting more sex when we are arguing. As if that's going to make me find her more appealing!"

Image: Getty.

A hetero couple, the woman in her 20s and the man in his 30s. Been together for 11 years. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I hate it when he leaves every item of clothing in the lounge room - shoes, socks, shirts, belts and treating it like a wardrobe. I then look like a nag and he says he'll pick everything up in his own time... which is never. We live in a one bedroom apartment, so my living space is also my work space. I work from home a lot more than him and having a messy environment makes me feel cluttered."

A hetero couple, the woman in her 40s and the man in his 60s. Been together for six years.

"My irritation is about my husband's lack of time management and communication. He is often late and changes plans. The irritation leads to my husband feeling attacked for 'not being enough'. It brings up old wounds and our defensiveness makes things challenging. We may both blow up but are quick to forgive and always talk through the issue."

A hetero couple in their 50s. Been together for 30 years.

"Our number one fight always revolves around the discipline of our children. We have very different views on what's appropriate and what actually works, as well as differing views on the idea of taking responsibility for yourself and living with the consequences of your actions."

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for 11 years.

"My partner is a chain smoker. I have been urging him to quit smoking since we started dating more than a decade ago. He doesn't want to quit because according to him 'everybody dies one day anyway'. He gives the example of his great uncle who never smoked a single cigarette, but died from cancer. In contrast, I lost my paternal grandmother to lung cancer, and she was a chain smoker. But my husband argues that he's a vegetable eater and eats nutritious foods, so he thinks he would be fine. I think he is very selfish because he doesn't consider the health effect on our children from passive smoking. Also, the potential financial burden he's going put upon us if he ever gets cancer. He says not to worry about it and he will just not seek any treatment that would cost a fortune and quietly die if that ever happens. So our arguments keep going on and on. Both of our past experiences have shaped what we believe, and it’s contradictory. So we keep clashing over this - the cycle is continuous."

A hetero couple in their 30s. Been together for four years.

"We often argue about whether or not single sex or co-educational schools are better. We each loved our respective education and want the same as we had for our children. It's also a bit of a social class/politics thing - I resent that he comes from a conservative family. We do listen to one another, but we also take a lot of time to reflect on what's happened and have time to ourselves."

ADVERTISEMENT

A same-sex couple in their 40s. Been together for 20 years. 

"My in-laws treat me like rubbish and everyone is complicit in it. When I've called it out, I'm the a**hole. It keeps getting brought up every school holidays when a visit from them is being considered. And it happens over and over again because no one is honest and brave enough to acknowledge the truth about what has and is happening. We've been trying to deal with it via relationship counselling together."

A hetero couple in their 20s. Been together for two and a half years. 

"He keeps leaving the bloody toilet seat up. We argue about it every couple of months, and I guess we can't understand each other's point of view and the reasoning behind keeping the seat up or down. We've tried to compromise, but it's challenging. Although very rarely do we have a fight so big that we need a lot of time and space to move on."

A hetero couple in their 40s. Been together for six years.

"Whatever the catalyst of the argument is, it always leads to a fight over how we communicate. My husband is very direct and can be harsh - his arguments are based on 'fact' and very analytical. Whereas I get more upset about 'how' we argue and his harsh approach makes me feel hurt. There's a level of stubbornness on both sides, although my husband usually moves on quicker than I do."

A hetero couple in their 60s. Been together for over 30 years.

"It's always over the freedoms our youngest child/only daughter has. My husband has a FIFO kind of job so he tries to be the 'good dad' and 'popular parent'. I'm trying to teach good habits, manners, a degree of frugality so I often say no. She's still a late teen in school. My husband and I have very different ideals. I've given up on trying to fix it."

A hetero couple, the woman in her 40s and the man in his 50s. Been together for 22 years.

"It's about me doing the lion's share of the planning, organising and executing all the things that need to happen in our family. Over time nothing changes - he might be conscious for a short period of time and make more effort but then he slides back into old ways. Several times a year it blows up into a big argument. It can be solved, but it causes a lot of resentment."

What's the 'one fight' you always have with your partner? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Getty.