A big shiny welcome to Janet from Middle Aged Mama who is sharing her pearls of wisdom on the blog today. This is a goodie!
There are some who think that if you have a happy marriage, you will never argue with your spouse.
Hogwash! It doesn’t matter if you have arguments; everybody has them. What matters is how you handle it!
I’ve learned a lot about how to have a good clean fight over twenty-five years of marriage, so here are some of my tips:
Don’t Fall for these Dirty Tricks
- The “always/never” trap – “You always ignore me when we are at parties!” “You never help around the house!” Always? Never?! They’re pretty strong words. And I think you’ll agree with me (when you’re not in the heat of an argument!) that you are not being 100% truthful when you use these words.
- Saying cruel things – You know better than anybody how to hit your partner where it hurts most – and I’m not talking about physically. By throwing their faults, failings and insecurities in their face, you could be doing your marriage permanent damage.
- Physical violence – It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, lashing out at your partner physically – from slapping to hurling a cup of tea – is domestic violence and unacceptable. I grew up in a violent home and had to unlearn some pretty bad habits when I got married.
- Dragging up the past – Do you rattle off a list of the offenses your husband has committed, in the entire history of your relationship, in each argument? Dragging up the past only clouds the issue – stick to the task at hand. If there are other issues that need to be looked at, wait until you are both feeling calm and relaxed before bringing them up, and try to deal with them maturely.
Now I’m not perfect in this area – far from it! (After reading this post, my hubster gave me 100% for theory but he wouldn’t tell me how I score on the practical side 😉 …)
Tips for a Good Clean Fight
Now that we have recognized some of the dirty tricks born of anger that can sabotage our marriage relationship, let’s look at some positive ways to deal with conflict.
- Fights often occur late at night, when we are tired and/or stressed – Acknowledge that this could be part of the problem and if so, mutually agree to shelve it until morning. You’ll be surprised how often you will wake up and realise that something that seemed so HUGE the night before is really not worth worrying about after a good night’s sleep. This approach may not work for everyone, but it is worth considering. I know it is not easy, to just drop a fight and agree that it’s bedtime, but it is a LEARNED response. It took some years for me – by nature, I am a “stewer” and could NEVER go to sleep without having it out – even if it meant we didn’t go to sleep til 3 am! But gradually I realised that these late night sessions meant we were just going round in circles, and we weren’t achieving anything. Far better to put it off til morning. If it still seems a big issue in the light of a new day, obviously you have some work ahead of you!
- Choose your battles wisely – Is it really worth blowing your top over every little thing he does which annoys you? I must admit, even after all these years, my hubster has yet to develop the hand-eye coordination to put his socks in the dirty clothes basket at the end of each day ;-). I’m sure I do plenty of things that annoy him too. Unconditional love is accepting your spouse exactly as they are. If there is something in his behaviour that is really bugging you, bring it up gently when you are feeling connected. If it should develop into an argument – that’s not the end of the world – or your marriage! If you learn to have a good clean fight, hopefully, you arrive at a solution that works towards satisfying each spouse’s needs.
- Try to conduct your argument without raising your voices – We all lose our temper sometimes, but let’s not give the neighbours free entertainment! Challenge yourself to argue in low tones or whispers. The bonus? It makes it a lot harder to keep up the intensity of your anger!
Finally, as long as you stick to having a good, clean fight, I don’t think it’s a problem if your children do see you arguing. Reassure them of your love and commitment to each other and to the family as a whole, and make sure they see the peace and harmony that follows.
After all, where else are they going to observe and learn the skills they will need to have a good clean fight with their future partner?!