Post # 1
This is a very personal subject, but I feel like many couples experience the issue of not knowing how to argue well so I thought I would start a thread and ask for some advice. Maybe this thread will help others as well.
Like all couples, my husband and I argue. I feel like we argue a normal amount and it’s not normal arguments that upset me. What upset me are those few times when arguments turn nasty and disrespectful. Never any name calling or really low blows, but there will be a super rude “whatever!” or a sarcastic “yeah, ok right!” and an escalation of anger until I feel I have to leave the room or immediately be quiet unless I want to say something I don’t mean. In my opinion, respect is more important than anything in a relationship and when we have these fights where I feel we are being seriously disrepectiful, it makes me fear for the longevity of our relationship. I have, of course, shared all of these feelings with him and he fully agrees that we need to find better, healthier ways to argue. We can’t afford marriage counseling, but are willing to read books, articles and take good advice.
So tell me, what’s your advice for having healthy and respectful arguments?
Post # 3
I think the biggest problem I’ve noticed that causes arguments to escalate is not letting one another talk. When you’re arguing, try to step back and let the other person have their say/opinion, and then take your turn. It may seem like a simple task, but its really one of the hardest things to do. Once Fiance and I got into the habit of doing that, the amount of times we’ve argued has dropped drastically.
Post # 4
@peasantsong: I think sometimes it is important to take those breaks when things get too heated. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that you’d like to take a moment to collect yourself.
It’s also good to try to tell each other what you hear from your partner. “From what you are saying, it seems like you’re concerned that I spend too much money on groceries” – or whatever the issue might be. Sometimes we’re so busy thinking about our next comeback/statement that we forget to really listen.
If you have any connections to a religion or church, then you can meet with someone there. Sometimes it helps to have neutral ground when discussing a major issue or problem.
Post # 5
My Darling Husband and I struggle with “fighting fair”. We don’t really fight a lot, but we have had a couple of big doosies and we both refuse to lose. At times we have both said some really mean things that we regret later on (except when I said his mom was a terrible mom, but that is a completely different story). I think we are going to read The Five Love Languages. I have heard from other Bees it is great. I have heard “The Seven Principles of Making Marriages Work” by John Gottman is good too.
Post # 6
I am sorry, but I only fight to win. Why else would I enter a fight? 🙂
My husband and I don’t argue often – but when we do, it’s like an endless battle of wits and neither of us likes to lose. So we will throw out points and counter-points until we completely exhaust every scenario. We don’t often concede the fight, but we do concede points when they are valid. I am not entirely sure how these things end – but eventually, after exhausting all logic, we always arrive at a state in which we both understand all the sides of the arguments there could possibly be, and are able to make a joint decision from there.
I think the most important thing for us is that we only fight the issues, never each other. We never attack the other person, we never bring up old arguments, and we never distract from the topic at hand. We may be totally ruthless in our logical arguments about the current issue, and we both hold very strong opinions, but we would never say mean things about each other.
At the end of the day, I think you have to remember that you are a team. While your approaches may be different, your purpose is rarely so, and you are ALWAYS on the same side.
Post # 7
the best advice I’ve EVER gotten is that when you are arguing you should be in physical contact with each other, the best way to do it is to sit next to each other or across from each other and hold hands. That physical contact keeps things from escalating and getting out of control and keeps it productive
Post # 8
We’ve spent a lot of time learning effective communication strategies and ways to fight fair. Our number one rule (and one I still on occasion struggle with…) is no sarcasm, ever. In my opinion, once someone starts being sarcastic the discussion can’t move forward, because you’ve made the other person feel as if you don’t think their opinion matters. We also both agree to walk away for a few minutes of cool-down if we’re arguing or getting mad at each other, because if you start feeling that way, you’re not going to express your feelings clearly nor are you going to listen to the other person’s. If someone calls for a break, it doesn’t matter if we’re right in the middle of it, we take a few minutes and back off. We also try to repeat back to one another what we think the issue is, to make sure that we both know what the actual problem is and to show that we’ve been listening to one another.
If you’re both aware of the issue and want to take steps toward communicating better, it can definitely be done. We almost never argue at this point despite a high-stress LDR, but learning how to communicate respectfully even when we’re angry has really been a relationship-saver.
Post # 9
For ME, I have to take a step outside of myself and accept the fact that I’m not always right. That doesn’t mean that I let him “win” every argument, but I think “how important is this argument?” and then go from there. It may take me a while, but I try to come around and admit when I’m wrong. I also try to remember that I cannot control how he thinks/feels/speaks about an issue, I can only control myself.
Post # 10
this thread is great, i fight with my fiance all the time, lots of yelling, etc, i am very good at holding a grudge and not letting things go. hopefully i can take all these things and apply them to our arguing style so we can improve. he is the one to leave the room and shut down so maybe if i give him a break it would help. http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/just-feels-like-he-doesnt-want-me – doesn’t fully explain how we argue but you get the idea, any tips on how to improve how we argue would be great 🙂
Post # 11
I’ve probably had about half a dozen major arguments with my OH over the 6 and a bit years we’ve been together. Otherwise, we rarely argue; and when we do, it will be about something ‘big’, not about something petty.
I think one important thing is not to let things build up; if something bothers you, talk about it while it’s still just a minor niggle/petty annoyance, and deal with it. Don’t wait until it becomes a bigger issue, as chances are it will result in a bigger, more heated, argument.
Another thing is to recognise what things actually matter, and to try to avoid arguing over stupid little things. If you’re angry, try to take a deep breath and count to ten before voicing how you feel.
If things get heated, take a step back straight away; say ‘this isn’t productive’, and if you must, leave the room. Then discuss if when you feel calmer. Never ever discuss anything in the heat of the moment, or when you’re angry, tough as that can be.
Also agree never to bring up past problems/arguments; it’s a sure-fire way to escalate an argument and it’s just not necessary. If you’ve already discussed and resolved something, leave it where it is: in the past.
But I think one important thing to remember is that provided you aren’t having blazing arguments every day/week, it doesn’t need to be a huge issue. Most couples argue occasionally; there will be times where the best of us are tired, stressed out, and blow our tops when we probably shouldn’t; provided you move on, it doesn’t need to be a hige issue, and personally, I think that having therapy because you argue occasionally is a bit extreme.
Post # 12
I asked to help respond to this because we have had our fair share of arguments.
1) its ok to go to bed angry, sometimes you need to just cool down.
2) limit cussing (we cuss in our natural speach but when we are arguing we cut it out)
3) each take turns repeating what point you think the other is trying to make. (we found that sometimes we were arguing over different things)
4) don’t talk down to one another
5) limit the disagreement to one topic at a time (when arguing don’t bring up a laundry list of annoyances you have with one another)
6) take a step back and admit if either one of you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT)
7) set a time limit (we dont argue for longer than an hour, if we haven’t agreed by then we probably won’t) after that time limit Agree to disagree or agree on a time when you can continue the discussion.
Post # 13
Excellent advice everyone! Thank you so much! I am so happy that I posted this because I have learned a lot of new tips that I would not have figured out alone. My husband is the greatest guy and is so willing to try anything I suggest to help us communicate better. I am definitely going to incorporate your excellent advice into our future arguments. You guys are so helpful!
Post # 14
@mcklough: That’s interesting!
For me, I know it’s important to start my sentences with, “I feel” or “When you _____, it makes me feel” and stuff like that. I try to avoid starting sentences with “YOU” and definitely try to avoid using “always” and “never”.
For example, instead of accusing, “You never tell me when you’re going to be late!”
try, “It makes me feel worried when I don’t know where you are. I’d feel a lot more relaxed if you would send me a text when you think you’ll be running late.”
Post # 15
we argue every couple of days, but i shall take all the advice this thread has and hopefully it will be a lot less 🙂
Post # 16
My biggest advice comes from our premarital counselor.
Most fights in marriage revolve around sex, money or the home… it’s almost inevitable that there will be arguments. However… there are a few ways to prevent a bad fight from happening.
Listening- repeating what you think your spouse is saying back to them to make sure all is understood. A lot of anger and frustration comes when one person misunderstands the other. This has helped resolve a LOT of our arguments. When I think Darling Husband is being dumb or really stubborn I’ll repeat what I think he’s saying back to him and he usually is able to explain what he meant originally.
Sometimes going to bed angry is actually okay. Fights usually don’t resolve well if both people are angry and tired at the same time.