For this week’s Friend Friday, I am blessed to have Mary Beth with us from New Life Steward. I love to follow her in her corner! Thank you Mary Beth for sharing with us today!
If you’re interested in being featured in Friend Friday, please send me an email @ simplyhelpinghim(at)gmail(dot)com
I am sitting in the passenger’s seat. Seething. I am so angry I think may head may explode. The child in me wants to scream and flail my arms and legs and hit something. Maybe him.
I take some deep breaths. Try to calm myself down. Whisper a prayer under my breath. Tell myself to just let it go.
But I can’t. Or I won’t.
Finally, in my most “nice” voice I say, “I really can’t believe you just did that.”
His response is fast, “Well you do it all the time.”
Mine is even faster, “Don’t flip this around on me. This is about YOU!”
And so it begins. Another argument in which no one wants to accept responsibility for any wrongdoing. Everyone is on the defensive. Nothing gets accomplished or solved. We just yell until we are exhausted and then give up.
Sweeping it under the rug only to trip over it later.
If you’ve been married for long, I imagine this scene is not unfamiliar to you. I like to tell myself that we fight passionately because we love passionately. If we didn’t care about each other, we wouldn’t bother.
But that’s not an excuse to continue in this crazy cycle as Emerson Eggerichs (affiliate link) calls it. So based on my experience as a Marriage and Family Counselor and my own marriage, I give you:
5 Ways to Argue Productively with Your Spouse:
1. Call a Time Out. When things get heated, call a time out. Literally, just say the words, “I need a time-out”. Discuss this strategy ahead of time, so that your partner isn’t caught off guard by it. Sometimes, everyone needs a little time to calm down and figure out what they really think and feel. But you can’t just stop there…
2. Schedule a time to continue the argument. Once you call the time-out, you need to determine the time and place to continue the discussion. You will also want to designate who will initiate the discussion. There is nothing worse than both of you sitting in opposite rooms ready to talk but secretly seething because the other hasn’t come to get you.
3. Set boundaries for the argument. Establish what you will be discussing. This is not the time to pull out every problem you have. Determine what the crux of the argument was about and seek to discuss that first.
4. Seek understanding before problem solving. Follow these steps:
- Establish a “speaker” and a “listener”
- The speaker has the “floor” (choose a literal object), and speaks in small chunks to make his/her opinion known.
- The listener reflects, or restates in his/her own words, what the speaker has said. NO rebuttles. NO defense. Your goal is to understand your partner. So LISTEN!
- The speaker continues until he/she feels heard and understood. Then switch roles.
- Repeat as many times as necessary for everyone to feel heard and understood.
5. Problem Solve. After taking time to fully understand each other, you are now ready to problem solve. Spend some time in prayer together seeking the Lord’s wisdom. Brainstorm possible solutions. Test solutions. Then come back together and evaluate what worked best.
To read more about these suggestions in addition to more great tips for your marriage, check out A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage (affiliate link) by Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, and Milt Bryan.
Have you found a way to argue productively in your marriage? Please share in the comments!
Photo Credit: Mindaugas Danys