How to Argue With Your Spouse.
This is part one of my series titled: "Lessons I Learned In Norman". I wrote an introduction blog that explains the new chapter we are starting in our lives. You can find it here.
If you've already read that, then here is lesson number one:
End arguments as quickly as possible by communicating. When Kayla and I first got married small arguments would last hours. Our fundamental beliefs about relationships were nowhere near each other. She believed in "give and take", and I believed in trying to become unoffendable so nothing could bother you.
Needless to say that caused a rocky foundation when we had disagreements. I tried to get Kayla not to be bothered by whatever was wrong, and she tried to get me to do what she wanted by doing what I wanted. I think both philosophies are helpful when paired together with grace, but neither works when you take a hard stance on one or the other.
We've since learned that when we disagree we should run as fast as we can to resolution so we can waste as little time as possible arguing. When I look back at some of the stupid things we've argued about and how much negativity was attached to our language, it makes no sense to live in that moment any longer than necessary.
We both agree that we want Violet to grow up in a house where she needs to suppress as little as possible when she is an adult. We don’t want her to have memories of her parents fighting and bickering or making her choose sides. We want her to know we love each other more than anything and that we are on the same team. I think it’s easy to get lost in trying to "win" an argument and kids pay attention to that stuff. Our goal is to create a stable environment that solidifies that we are all on the same side.
All of this stuff is super easy to say, but easy to forget in the moment. If you are like me and forget who you really want to be when you become angry, then here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful.
1. Ask yourself if the topic of an argument really matters in the big picture of life.
Are you angry because it feels good to stay that way, or are you actually convinced that your partner needs to agree with you? More often than not, our lives wouldn’t have been much different even if Kayla decided I was right.
2. Plan ahead.
Think about how terrible you will feel after a disagreement if you say stuff you don’t really mean. If you only think about how to control anger when you are angry then growth is unlikely. When I’m emotional, it’s not usually the best time for me to learn a lesson.
3. Stay away from words like always and never.
(This tip was provided by some of our good friends and it’s been really helpful.) Those words exaggerate a problem and they aren’t likely to help resolve anything. Have grace on each other. Think about the worst things you’ve done in your life and give your partner the same grace that God gives you. Whether you think they deserve it or not. We definitely don’t deserve God’s grace, but he freely extends it anyway.
4. Have grace on yourself.
This is big for me. It’s really hard to forgive myself when I react in a way that I regret. If I don’t forgive myself, then I’ll be more likely to repeat the same mistakes because I’ll be carrying around a burden and stressed out all the time.
These things have helped me to become a better husband. I’m far from perfect, but I want to become better every single day. My goal in our marriage is to love Kayla more than anyone else in the world does. I fail all the time. Luckily she has grace when I come up short and I try to do the same for her. When you really want to make a marriage work, you have to learn how to forgive and you both have to be willing to humble yourselves to change.
Do you have any other tips that might be helpful to create a peaceful marriage? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t keep that stuff to yourself. I want to learn more too.