Have you ever met someone who claims they never argue with their spouse? Not even when they’re tired or sick or angry? They just get along so well that they never have disagreements.
There’s a scientific term for these couples: liars.
They are either lying—because they do in fact argue but they don’t want you to know that—or one of them is so apathetic about their relationship they don’t care enough to argue.
The truth is if you are married to a human being you will have arguments. They may not all be screaming, crying fights, but disagreements will happen. Differences in your opinions, preferences, and desires—which will change over time—will inevitably lead to arguments.
If you want to have a healthy and satisfying marriage, you SHOULD argue with your spouse.
Arguments don’t always have to turn into fights. You don’t always have to escalate a discussion into a hyper-emotional blowup.
You don’t have to bring up past hurts and failures.
You don’t have to hurt each other with your words.
And you don’t have to win.
Early on in our marriage, my wife and I would often fall into the trap of having arguments late at night. We have always talked to each other a lot and that has been a strength of our marriage; but when you’re highly verbal (like myself) its easy to just sort of stumble into an argument and say whatever comes to mind at the moment.
After allowing our emotions to get the best of us and saying things we didn’t mean, I would push to find some form of final resolution. Finally my wife would say, “can we please just go to sleep and talk about this tomorrow?!” It took me a while, but I finally learned to put the argument on hold and shut my mouth until morning. Sometimes this is still a struggle, but realizing that arguments don’t have to be fully resolved in the same session (or after 9pm) has helped us avoid a lot of hurt.
If you want to make arguments work for instead of against your marriage, you need to learn to argue well.
Here are 3 ways to argue well you can start using today:
- Avoid using exaggerated words like “always” and “never”
You’ve probably heard this one before, but its easy to fall into this trap. Our words matter, especially when speaking to the people closest to us. Words like these always set us up to say something untrue and they never help resolve an argument.
- Don’t use zingers
Whether you call them zingers, jabs, low-blows, or just hurtful insults, you know what they are and you know when you’re using them. Although these will often be unique to your relationship, everyone knows when they are dredging up the past or saying something hurtful just for the sake of hurting. In a heated and emotional argument, the time zingers start flying is the time you need to put the argument on hold and take a break to cool off.
- Don’t bring up hot-button issues after 9:00pm
I don’t know what your bed-time is in your house, but in mine we usually try to be in bed by 10:00-10:30pm. Our kids go to bed between 7pm-8pm, so on a good night that only gives us a couple of hours to be together kid-free. Unfortunately, most of the time we already exhausted from the day and the bed-time routine so we don’t always bring our A-game. During this brief window of time, I like to talk to my wife about whatever is going on in our lives at the time. However, if there is an issue that needs to be addressed and I know its a place of strong disagreement I try my best to keep my mouth shut until a better time of day. I suggest you do the same. Just make sure you set a specific time when you will actually follow up and resolve the issue.
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