He said, she said: couples arguing
by Linda Plenert
Dear Ate Anna,
My wife and I often disagree. In fact, we argue a lot and sometimes it is about silly things. I am tired of the arguments. What can we do?
Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship and married couples fight about many things. Some of the most common issues are money, sex, housework, children, jobs, annoying habits, communication, time spent watching TV or on the computer, leisure activities, the in-laws etc.
Because you and your wife are two unique individuals, it’s natural for you to have different ideas about these kinds of issues. It’s important for both of you to accept and respect these different ways of looking at the world. As well, if you keep your minds open to listening to each other, a disagreement does not always have to be a bad thing.
In fact, some couples say that it’s possible for an argument to make them feel closer to each other. An argument is an opportunity to share feelings and thoughts, but it needs to be done in a respectful way. If a couple is able to reach a compromise, the process helps both partners understand each other better. This is how intimacy between two people reaches a deeper level. As well, the “making up” after a fight (whether it is physical intimacy or other ways of making up) sometimes helps the couple feel better about themselves and their relationship.
Also, remember that it is not the argument, itself, that causes problems; it is how a couple argues. When you fight, fight fair. It’s important to stay focused and stick to the issue at hand. Don’t bring up old hurts or grudges when they’re not relevant to the issue you are arguing about. Don’t attack your spouse’s character or personality. In other words: no name-calling, criticizing, or judging. Also remember that you are not a mind reader; so don’t make assumptions about what your partner is thinking. Listening and communicating are important; clarify what you think your wife is saying. And give her the opportunity to correct that impression if you misunderstood. If the argument is getting too heated, take a “time out” to calm down and cool off.
Benny, in your letter you mention that you argue a lot with your wife. Even though you have the right to disagree with your wife, it doesn’t always have to cause an argument. This can create an unhealthy pattern that can be hurtful and damaging to your relationship. It might be helpful to reflect on why you fight: Do you fight because you want to win or be in control? Or is it to actually resolve issues?
Remember, your relationship with your wife is a partnership, not a competition. Most of the time the important thing is not who wins or loses, or who’s right or wrong. The more important thing is to work toward a solution. In other words, don’t fight to win, fight for your marriage relationship.
As well, try to work toward being the first person to apologize. It actually shows that you care more about reconciling than being right. And remind yourself that your wife also cares about reconciling. If both of you didn’t care about a resolution, you wouldn’t be fighting for one.
Making changes in a relationship can be challenging. This website might help you: www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/conflict-resolution-skills.htm
If you are finding yourselves stuck and unable to change old habits, you could try talking to a trusted friend or religious leader, or go to a counsellor for some professional advice.
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