Disagreements and differences of opinion are a common occurrence in life. People do not often think alike, yet they have to relate or work together. Handling or reconciling disagreements and differences of opinion are therefore an integral part of any meaningful relationship. As a matter of fact, it helps to foster mutual understanding and strengthens the bond between the parties involved. And this is more so in a marital relationship. It however becomes dangerous when disagreements and differences of opinion are allowed to result in bitter arguments; this often spells doom for relationships.
Now, an argument, as we know, is an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one. Or better still, it is a discussion in which disagreement is expressed; a debate; a quarrel or a dispute. It could also be a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.
Really, what do couples argue about? They can range from the serious to the not-so-serious. Often, they include issues about money, children, in-laws, leisure, domestic workers, or even sex. A 1991 National Child Development Study identified the most common causes of arguments between couples as the sharing of household tasks, how to spend spare time together and relationships with parents and in-laws.
Sometimes, the disappointment we feel when our hopes and expectations are not coming true makes us sad and angry, and wanting to blame the other person, who may be feeling exactly the same. This may make us abandon reason and get into heated arguments with our spouse.
At other times, the cause of arguments could be a spouse changing in a way the other did not expect or making promises he or she does not keep. This can lead to feelings of betrayal and being let down, and ultimately make a spouse irritable and argumentative.
Other causes of arguments which may look petty but are equally dangerous include snoring, leaving the toilet seat up, neglecting chores, driving styles, what to watch on TV, what to have for dinner, noisiness, certain time-consuming and/or expensive hobbies, and more. They may not look significant enough to cause trouble in the home, but like a trickle of water that slowly erodes a rocky cliff, petty arguments can diminish a happy marriage over time.
The truth is, communication is the lifeblood of every relationship, but constant arguments and bickering are toxic: they sniff the life out of relationships. Except handled with care, arguments can lead to (in no particular order):
- Emotional trauma
- Death (particularly where people get physical)
It does not matter who we think is guiltier of causing destructive arguments, we each have a responsibility to stop them in our marriage. To do that, always endeavour to:
Maturely discuss your partner’s offending action rather than attacking his/her character. No name-calling please as it will only put your spouse on the defensive and cause resentment. Sometimes, people do not even realise they are doing something annoying and will appreciate it if you draw their attention to it.
According to Meet Beth, a marriage counsellor, one of the things she and her husband do to deal more constructively in the middle of an argument is changing focus from “telling” to “listening.” In her own words, “Often we’re just misunderstanding each other, and simply backing up to discover the “holes” in our perspectives can squash an argument like a nasty bug crossing our path!”
Maybe your spouse had a really difficult day at work or has a headache. The last thing he/she wants to hear when he/she walks through the door is you complaining about what he/she did wrong. Put yourself in your partner’s place and time your venting accordingly. Your spouse will be more apt to listen to your feelings when you consider his or hers.
Avoid Giving Ultimatums
No one likes to be pushed into a corner. Telling anyone, let alone the person you are supposed to love the most in the world, that he/she must comply with your demands or else…is not a wise move. Giving ultimatums is akin to one adult making the other feel like a child.
Avoid Arguing In Front of the Children
Children do not understand innocent bickering. To them, Daddy and Mummy are being mean to each other and it scares them. No matter what age a child is, it is unfair to make them witness your arguments.
Avoid Arguing in Public
Have you ever innocently gone to the supermarket for a peaceful shopping trip only to be forced to hear a couple argue loudly about whether to buy a particular product or the other? It is annoying, to say the least. Be sure not to be that couple who is always arguing in public. It diminishes people’s respect for you.
Avoid Involving a Third Party
Nothing makes for a more awkward situation than when a married couple tries to get a friend or family member involved in their argument to take sides. This can cause an extreme amount of animosity in the spouse whose side is not taken. You must keep people’s noses out of your business for their sake and the sake of your marriage.
Avoid Withholding Affection to Have Your Way
Withholding affection is immaturity at its very worse. How ridiculous to deprive your spouse of hugs and kisses just so you can get that expensive purse you have been asking for. Nothing makes a married person more resentful than being given the cold shoulder as a way of manipulating him/her.
It is much easier to meet each other half way than to completely submit to someone’s wants and desires. If your spouse wants to see a historical romance movie and you want to see the latest action film, choose something you can both enjoy, like the comedy movie starring that actor you both find amusing.
Do Not Go To Bed Angry
There is no worse feeling than waking up in the morning angry at your partner. This can ruin your whole day before it even begins.
Most couples agree that making up quickly after an argument may be “key to keeping a relationship alive.”
It is also important to point out that sometimes constant bickering can be indicative of deeper resentment between married couples. In that case, it pays to discuss and find a solution to the big issue. Counsel should be sought for major issues such as nagging ideas about money management, clashing parenting styles and questionable extramarital relationships, instead of dealing with the symptoms.
Now, do you always seek to win a war of words in your marriage? At what expense? Is it really worth it? Would you rather trade your marriage for that insignificant ‘victory’? Why not chose to be the peacemaker in your home?