- Rich Fury/Getty
- Paris Hilton has said she never fights with new fiancé Chris Zylka.
- Some experts say you can have conflict without fighting, while others say fighting before marriage can be productive.
- Ultimately, don’t compare your relationship to the way someone else’s relationship looks from the outside.
I recently profiled Paris Hilton’s relationship with new fiancé Chris Zylka. More than once, I noticed, Hilton has publicly described her partner and their partnership as “perfect.” Each has dropped the F-bomb – “fairy tale” – when referring to the other.
But the most sweet/gross characterization of their relationship I came across was this: In November 2017, Hilton told US Weekly, “I think we’re the only couple that never fights. All my friends are like, ‘Literally, you guys are the perfect couple. I’ve never seen you argue.'”
Zylka chimed in: “We communicate well.”
My initial reaction to this assertion was, Boy are you two headed for disaster! Everyone knows a couple that never, ever fights has more problems than a couple who’s constantly squabbling.
Not all experts would agree.
Let’s start with the word “fight.” If by fighting Hilton meant bickering – getting angry, yelling, name-calling – then not fighting might be a great thing.
You can still have conflict, but you can manage it without fighting. The difference is more than just semantics.
As clinical psychologist Susan Heitler wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today, “Marriage fights, that is, arguing at any level of intensity, reflect a breakdown in partnership.” She added, “A zero-fighting policy makes couples far happier. That doesn’t imply that differences should be swept under the rug. To the contrary, no-fighting policies need to be combined with solid collaborative win-win dialogue skills.”
Gottman previously told Business Insider: “In really good relationships, people are very gentle with the way they come on about a conflict.” In good relationships, “they don’t bare their fangs and leap in there; they’re very considered.”
For example, Gottman said, “Instead of pointing their finger and saying, ‘You a–hole!,’ they say, ‘Hey babe, it’s not a big deal, but I need to talk about it and I need to hear from you.’ In bad relationships, it’s, ‘You’re defective, and you need therapy.'”
Don’t compare your relationship to someone else’s
Interestingly, one 2012 study published in the Journal of Family Issues suggests that if you experience a lot of conflict – defined as disagreeing with your spouse – today, you’ll probably still have a lot of conflict 20 years later. So if Hilton and Zylka don’t duke it out now, that might bode well for their future as a couple.
On the other hand, psychologist Shauna A. Springer wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today that “fighting” before marriage is a positive thing, as it “allows each partner to gain a rich source of information about the process of how you fight and whether you can learn to have conflict without weakening your bond.”
Springer recommends that “couples in the pre-marital phase of their relationship proactively ask each other lots of hard questions to set off some hidden land mines before they consider marriage.” (Think a real-life version of the Mandy Moore film “License to Wed.”)
Hilton has said her friends think she and Zylka are the “perfect” couple because they don’t argue. Yet while her friends are entitled to fawn – and you knew this was coming – there’s really no such thing as a perfect union.
A couple may have an ideal dynamic they’re working toward, and that’s great. But comparing your relationship to someone else’s, especially when you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, is rarely a good idea.