In his book, ‘How to have a beautiful mind’ author Edward De bono explains how one of the characteristics of a beautiful mind is that it carries on with a conversation for acquiring something meaningful in the end, with the hope of gaining some knowledge and not just for the sake of winning the argument.

Same rule applies to relationships.

Always be more focused on understanding your partner and not on simply pulling him down.

Carrying on with the argument with the intent of winning eventually wastes a lot of time and energy without any gain and, in the end, both you and your partner will lose.

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Studies have proven that the biggest source of conflict in any relationship is ego – the urge to win over the partner.  We are made to be competitive and to look at everything as a test, as a battle to be won and we believe that is how we achieve perfection.

Winning makes us feel secure, strong and safe. But for any relationship, this attitude is disastrous.

Constant conflicts that result in humiliation and hostility finally lead to distance – emotional and physical distance from the partner and thus a relationship becomes totally void of communication!

Every couple knows the dire results of defeating your partner, but still many engage in it. Why?

Some believe that if they hit first, they will be able to avert the shame and bully that they would otherwise experience. They feel that it is the only way to survive in a competitive, argumentative marriage. They think they have just two options – be a hammer or a dust bin and they obviously choose to be the attacker.

There are ways to break this cycle.

With conscious efforts and mutual understanding, a couple can avoid such arguments and in turn convert any discussion into a healthy conversation that results in resolution.

1)      Remember winning means losing – while arguing, always remember that attempts to win actually mean you are losing.

Any victory that leads to long-term damage to your partner’s esteem or harms your marriage is your loss.  Your ultimate gain is a successful, happy marriage.

2)      Become a good listener – this will not only help you in marriage but also in your professional life.

Good listeners are usually more dependable and they are able to understand things better. If your partner shows resentment, listen to him. Understand what he feels so oppressed about and later with mutual co-operation, try to sort things out.

3)       Develop an atmosphere of trust – When your partner complains, you may not always like hearing him out.  You may completely disagree with him or your ears may simply shout out at the cacophony, but still it is advisable to lend an empathetic and compassionate ear to him.

Instead of simply imagining that you are sure what he is going to say, do a reflective thinking and hear him.  With this approach, an atmosphere of trust and open communication is created which gives a solid foundation to the marriage.

4)      Reflect back on your actions and words – It may be true that your partner keeps complaining, but there is likely some ground to his complaints. It is always better to do introspection in peace.

If any of your particular habits or words miff him, it is better to not repeat it to avoid any difference.

For example, my husband would get peeved up if I mentioned few things or talked about few people. I could not understand his logic of discomfort, but after having understood him better, I decided to never talk about them. Reason – he was not comfortable with it. His comfort is supreme for me and hence, I changed my way and maintained peace.

5)      In times of disagreement, think of long term effects – I had quit my lucrative day job to settle down peacefully in my marriage at a far off, isolated island. It was okay for a while, but slowly I started feeling disoriented. I missed my work and in the frustration, I started complaining about everything.  I would nag at my hubby for almost everything.

One day my hubby very politely told me, ‘dear, if you keep arguing with me like this, I will stop telling you things. And then I will shrink into my shell and never be able to open up with you’.

That day, for the first time, I realized the grim consequences of my nagging and that very moment, I stopped complaining. Thinking of long-term results keeps one focused on making the relationship work and thus helps in keeping unnecessary altercations at bay.

Being understood is the basis of any relationship. Understand your partner, good or bad, and set the base for a rock solid companionship.

Note: This guest post was written by Surabhi Surendra of Womantics

(photo source)


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. I definitely agree that winning an argument is really losing. Often, it seems that arguments don’t actually stay about the problem we initially start off with, but become about the way we are interacting about it. Ego definitely becomes the problem.

    1. Stephanie,

      You are right. Ego is THE problem. And sadly, we know it is the problem but still we don’t do much about it. Ego takes it own course to disappear. With time, relationships mature and we realize ego is such a barrier.

  2. Great article Surabhi. I think it’s awesome that your husband felt comfortable enough to be honest with you about his eventual reaction if you kept up your nagging. And that you didn’t flip out on him and instead listened. That says alot about your marriage. Awesome!

  3. Mike,

    Thanks a lot for such kind words. My hubby was a tongue tied person. But with time and togetherness, he opened up a lot and now he is the one who talks more and I enjoy listening to him!

  4. Surabhi this post makes me wonder why we are wired to want to WIN all the time. In reality disagreements and issues we have with our partners are often our way of trying to get something to change. If we can’t work with our PARTNER to figure out a solution to our problems that works for both, how can we ever expect to make any substantive changes.

    That said, since we are wired to WIN all the time, one way that I have found that helps is to visit a third party, a mediator, maybe even a marriage counselor that will help implement some of your ways to break the cycle, which are all very good points, but often times hard to implement on ones own.

    Great post!!

    1. Hi,

      Yeah! a third party intervention works most of the time. It helps us in forgetting about our ego for a while and concentrate on the solution!

  5. Easier said than done, for sure. Calm and effective communication takes lots of practice, and being married will afford every opportunity to do so! 🙂

    1. Iaamm,

      True. Easier said than done. But trust me, since the time I have thought about it and actually decided to do it.. I am able to practice it on a regular basis. 🙂

  6. hi, surabhi, that was a really good article.. i liked it so much.. and i totally agree that rather than winning arguments and boosting our self ego we should try to win hearts. that will not only make others happy but will also make us feel better. This can be very well applied in all the relationhips that an individual has especially with our partner. love it…

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