“It Takes Two To Argue” Is A Toxic Thought

written by Nathan & Kelli

The thoughts “arguing is bad” and “it takes two to argue” are toxic in a marriage with two good people. Together these thoughts can cause us to avoid difficult conversation with our partners.

Avoiding tough conversations, means concerns don't get resolved, causing them to compound. Also, when one partner avoids arguments by acquiescing to the other, that person can start to feel marginalized. These problems then snowball into more contention (since things aren’t being resolved), resentment (since opinions aren’t being heard), a lack of growth (you aren’t pushing each other to be better), and an erosion of trust (partners don’t understand each other).

These thoughts were often taught to us as children, and with the best of intentions. The purpose of these phrases is to encourage us to look at our part in the conflict and see what we could have done differently to have prevented it. This is excellent advice. The problem is when it is used to stop us from standing up for our beliefs and feelings. For example if we are walking along, and someone is kicking a cute little puppy, are we just supposed to keep walking? Of course not. We need to step in and help the puppy, even if that causes some contention.

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In a marriage, when we both have an opinion, we are not meant to just drop our opinion because it might lead to a disagreement. Instead we need to make our opinion known, politely and then with curiosity and empathy look to understand our spouses opinion.

As we are willing to discuss, understand, and compromise we can come to a solution that we are both able to happily live with. The key is to do so with a minimum of contention and to look for common ground that is best for the relationship, instead of focusing on winning the argument.

So let’s stop using the phrase “it takes two to argue”. Maybe “unity requires two” or “intimacy requires two” would be better phrases to think about the next time there is a disagreement between you and your spouse.


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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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