My husband and I have been fighting for 17 years. I’m not a relationship expert, but I have been around the block enough times to offer healthy Tips for Fighting with Your Spouse.
Brandon and I had our first argument when we met on a cruise during senior year spring break in 2004. I don’t remember what our fight was about, but there was definitely bickering, apologizing, and finally: making up. All couples fight – it’s completely natural to disagree with someone you love. Fighting daily is unhealthy though, and so is fighting dirty.
My relationship with my husband is not perfect, but we are happy and our love is strong. Our communication skills get better with age, as does the way we fight. Long gone are the college days of misunderstood and misplaced anger, ignored phone calls and one sided arguments. After 17 years together we try very hard to practice healthy arguing techniques (with a few hiccups here and there).
Tips for Fighting with Your Spouse
Nothing good ever comes from an accusatory finger blaming your partner during an argument. Who doesn’t become defensive when blamed for something you may or may not have done?
Replace “YOU…” with “I FEEL…”
One way to avoid blame in an argument is to replace “You” statements with “I feel” statements. Here is an example:
Don’t say: “YOU never listen when I tell you about my day. YOU are always on your phone and never care about my life.”
Say this instead: “I feel sad and unimportant when I am talking and you look at your phone. It makes me feel like you’re not interested in what I have to say.”
Steer clear from using the words NEVER and ALWAYS.
I am notorious for exaggerating the reality of what I’m feeling in my relationships. When I fight with others there is usually an underlying issue I don’t want to address, so I use never and always as blanket statements because they imply permanence in what may just be a situational occurrence. The worst part about using never and always is these statements are rarely true.
Here is an example of a real statement fired at my husband after a particularly stressful day: “You never clean the house. I always do everything around here!”
Not only are the two accusations untrue, but my statement is also fueled by an underlying issue. I was overwhelmed with work, motherhood, and life. Instead of asking my husband for help, I accused him of never doing anything.
More Tips for Fighting with Your Spouse
Call a timeout.
Sometimes marital arguments escalate quickly when emotions are running high. The best thing you can do during a heated fight is to call a timeout. We all need time to process our feelings and reflect on emotion, but if we don’t take a moment to do just that – things can get ugly. Avoid the dirty fight and take a timeout.
Be honest and stay on topic.
Honesty is scary, especially when you’re afraid of how your partner may react to your truths. However, if you have a solid foundation of trust in your relationship, honesty (to a certain extent) shouldn’t be an issue. I used to withhold a lot from my husband for fear he wouldn’t react Once you reveal your feelings, stay on topic and try not to bring up more than one matter.
My Final Thoughts on Healthy Arguing
There are plenty more tips for healthy fighting in a marriage, but these are my favorites. Truth be told – my husband and I still have random terrible fights when we are overwhelmed in other areas of our life. It’s somewhat easier to lash out on the ones we love most instead of taking a moment to breathe.
My therapist always reminds me to be true to myself and to my husband. If I need to have an uncomfortable conversation because I am mad or sad, it’s important to address those feelings instead of squashing them down. Nothing good comes from unresolved emotions.
Healthy arguing is possible in any marriage. Sometimes it is good to get things off your chest and often times arguments can bring you closer together.