There is a Russian saying "милые бранятся - только тешатся", meaning that when lovers/spouses are fighting(verbally!)/arguing/swearing at each other, they are merely having fun/enjoying themselves.

This is usually said by 3rd parties to calm themselves when they observe vicious marital arguments.

Is there an English equivalent?

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    "Most murders are committed by spouses" would seem to be the antithetical adage. It's actually strictly speaking not true. More murders are committed by casual acquaintances, for instance. But the spouse is more likely to be the culprit than any individual acquaintance. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 16 '17 at 20:59

Rosalind Fergusson, The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs (1983) lists four proverbs that deal with the ephemeral nature of lovers' quarrels. None of them are exact equivalents of the Russian saying, but three of them overlap it to some extent:

Lovers' quarrels are soon mended.

The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love.

Biting and scratching is Scots folk's wooing.

Also somewhat relevant is this proverb, which Fergusson lists in among several that focus on the "rules and conditions" of love:

Love is a game in which both players always cheat.

Wolfgang Mieder, A Dictionary of American Proverbs (1992) reiterates a couple of Fergusson's proverbs and adds two more:

A lover's anger is short-lived. [Recorded in Illinois.]

The falling out of lovers is the renewal of love. [Recorded in Indiana; first cited instance from 1520 in Whitington, Vulgaria.]

Love's anger is fuel to love. [Recorded in Illinois.]

Deep as are the quarrels, deep becomes the love. [Recorded in New York.]

Martin Manser, The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs (2002) has this entry for a proverb we have already encountered twice:

the quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love A loving relationship is often reestablished on a firmer footing after an argument."The falling out of Lovers ... is the renewal of Love. Are we not now better friends than if we had never differed?" (Samuel Richardson, Sir Charles Grandison, 1754). The proverb is of ancient origin, occurring in Terence's Andria (second century B.C.): "Amantium irae amori integratio est {Lovers' quarrels are a strengthening of love}."

This proverb goes beyond the Russian one in viewing quarrels not merely as a game or idle pastime but as a means of making the lovers' commitment stronger (through the shared experience of honesty, injury, and reconciliation, presumably). Closer to the spirit of the Russian proverb is "Lovers' quarrels are soon mended" (which implies that they are often no more than trivial spats) and "Biting and scratching is Scots folk's wooing" (which implies that quarrels between lovers are a natural and indeed enjoyable part of courtship, at least in some places).


"They play rough."

(My family of origin plays rough. It took awhile for new arrivals to get used to us. I don't play rough any more.)



The action of engaging in a play-fight. - OLD.

Play fight

A pretend or recreational fight. - OLD.

Play fighting, is something that you see in the wider animal kingdom also:

Play fighting can escalate to real fighting if signals are misread or one player acts too aggressively. But, since play is so common, especially among mammals but also many birds, perhaps other vertebrates such as reptiles, or even certain invertebrates, such as the octopus (Burghardt, 2005), its selective advantages must somehow outweigh these costs.

-- Adult play and sexual selection : Scholarpedia

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