Everyone, at times, has disagreements.
How boring would life be if everyone agreed all of the time? However, if you handle those disagreements the wrong way, it could mean disaster.
This is particularly true when you are arguing with your spouse.
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You spend most non-working moments with this one person, this wonderful, loving, infuriating person. Your emotions will naturally run high while discussing the things you care most about with the person you care most about. Arguments are not only natural, but inevitable.
How do you have an argument with someone you love without lasting resentment?
As strange as it may sound, you have to argue fairly.
The Rules of Engagement
There are a few principles to remember during an argument with your husband or wife:
- When your partner is talking, your job is to listen with all of your energy. You are not interrupting. You are not planning your rebuttal while waiting for your turn to talk.
You are listening, nothing else. If you don’t listen, you can’t understand. If you don’t understand, you can’t find a resolution.
- Remember that your partner cares. If she didn’t care, she wouldn’t feel so strongly about the argument. This isn’t a war, just an argument. She still wants to spend the rest of her life with you.
Keeping this in mind will change the entire tone of the argument into a positive interaction. You will still disagree, but you will be looking for a solution together, instead of finding a “win” at any cost.
- Search for the best intent. Remember #2? There is an incredibly good chance that, if there are two ways to interpret something your partner has said – a good way and a bad way – your partner probably meant the good way. Even if you are wrong, it is far better to err on the side of resolution than the side of antagonism.
- When your partner has finished speaking, it’s still not your turn to argue. Your job now is to repeat your understanding of the issue, without worrying about problem-solving. Before you can refute the argument – or even establish your disagreement – you have to know that you understand her position and she has to know that you do.
Without understanding, there can be no path to resolution that doesn’t cause resentment. If you have too much resentment, you won’t have a marriage.
After all of this, it will finally be your turn to make your point. Hopefully, your partner will be following the same rules so you can solve your problems together, without learning to hate each other.
Arguments in your marriage aren’t – or shouldn’t be – intended to draw blood.
Fights happen. However, if your goal is to win at any cost, you will both lose, possibly everything.
Choose to argue fairly with your spouse and put your marriage ahead of your desire to “win.”
Great post! One of the reasons I married my husband is because I would rather fight with him than anyone else. Even in a heated argument we still love and respect each other and he is really good at following the points you mentioned. I sometimes need to remind myself to fight faire, but for the most part we both follow the above guidelines and it really does work!!!
Something my wife often reminds me of when we are having a heated discussion is that we are on the same team. That helps me to calm down and regroup and think through things a little more as opposed to just immediately saying what comes to mind and reacting with my emotions.
Looks short and simply, but oh it takes emotional strength to do sometimes…
@Rob Ward: That is such a had thing to remember when things get heated because you both feel strongly about opposite sides of an issue.
These are indeed some very good tips for arguing. Sadly, divorces still happen. We were allowed divorce because of the hardness of OUR hearts, not because it is God’s desire for us. Before a couple makes that final decision to part ways, they should be sure they have exhausted every other avenue to reconciliation. I actually wrote an article on my blog about a tremendous resource available to prevent divorce by doing things God’s way. May God bless you with this marriage ministry. It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing here.
My husband can do NO WRONG! It’s always my fault. How do you argue with a “blamer”???
^^ I’d like to know this, as well! He says he’s a “grown man” who can “do what he wants”, yet he can’t take responsibility for his own actions and the reactions it has caused :/
This is helpful. I am looking for some logistical ways to calm down myself in these situation. These goals or tactics seem helpful and I will try to put them into action. I think that I will try these things when I get back. I will be deploying soon so there will be sometime apart to learn what must be done when I return.
My main question is how to prevent every argument from becoming an all out cut and bleed war. With every argument I’m reminded of everything I’ve done wrong and some things I never did in the first place. Nearly all disagreements end up with her saying “she doesn’t care about me and doesn’t want me. We’ve both done things, but it seems that she thinks her things aren’t as bad as mine. She disrespects me when we’re together, but if we separate she tries to hold me to a standards of “I’m the mother of your kids”, but me being the father to these same kids has no merit, together or not. My thought on this is if you tell me I’m no good and you don’t want me, you should have nothing to say about what I do when we split. Feed back pls.
My husband always denies it when he does something wrong and he never admits his wrong deeds. That’s why our arguments never gets anywhere. We can’t solve the problems because he doesn’t accept his mistakes, though its obvious. Please help me on that.