What type of fighter are you? Do you save up old grievances, and sandbag your partner when fighting? Or, do you walk away, refusing to engage at all? Do you have to always “win” when arguing with your spouse? Money is one of the top reasons couples argue, closely followed by in-laws, sex and friends. If your arguments always escalate into full blown wars, or one of you always ends up giving in, it’s time for a change. How?
First, you need to sit down and figure out why certain issues are important enough to you to argue about. For example: money. Are you arguing because one of you is irresponsible or “selfish”? Are there control issues? One way to avoid financial disagreements is to have seperate bank and credit accounts. There should be, by agreement one joint household account for dealing with monthly bills.
Any goals, such as saving for a new home, a trip or car should be agreed on jointly. Assuming your partner can read your mind won’t work here. Everything needs to be spelled out very clearly and agreed upon jointly.
If one of you is better at bill paying and saving, let that partner assume the role. Fun money comes after responsibilities and goals are met for the month. By being open, clear and honest about your expectations concerning financial management, you can avoid the majority of arguments over money.
If your parents are a negative influence in your marriage, take some steps to show your spouse you are being fair and realistic about your parents behavior. If necessary, keep family visits to a minimum.
One big source of hurt in many marriages, is when one spouse continually shares blow by blow descriptions of their spouses negative behaviors with his/her parents. This is seen to be a betrayal and increases the hostility for all concerned. Don’t do this. It’s unfair and a breach of marital trust. Running back home when things get bad is immature and shows a lack of genuine commitment to the marriage.
If parents are difficult and critical, set some boundaries about what you will allow in your home and enforce them. This shows your spouse that your committment lies with him/her, and not in the past. You are now an independent unit of two, not an extension of your family.
Decide on ground rules for dealing with arguments. Talk about what you both find acceptable and what really ticks you off when arguing. Always strive for compromise whenever possible. Each side should come away feeling like they each gained something from the issue.
If you are truly angry, try and put off arguing until you can calm down and deal with it rationally. Go for a walk, garden or clean a closet. Shouting, slamming doors or throwing things only makes things worse, and causes the other side to tune out anything valid you might be trying to say.
Try and avoid using accusatory phrases. Use I feel hurt, or I feel like you really let me down instead. This allows the other side a chance to see the impact of their behavior, instead of being put on the defensive.
Try never to go to bed angry. It is much better to try and resolve things first. And try never to bring the arguments into the bedroom. This area is a place of love and relaxation.
Learning how to argue successfully,will help bring a measure of peace and stability to your marriage. Words hurled in anger or to wound or diminish self esteem can eventually kill a relationship.