My husband and I have been together for years and we got married two years ago. When we first started dating we worked in the same building and spent all kinds of time together. It was great and I swear for the first few years we didn’t know what an argument was. Fast forward to today and BAM! We fight all the time. I have since changed jobs so we don’t spend as much time together so you would think that would somehow make us closer. Nope. We argue over everything from who should clean the dishes to what type of TV shows we should watch. We fight over time he spends with his children, whose parents we visit for the holidays, even who has the better parents! We argue over money, sex, food, you name it we’ve had that argument. I remember so fondly those early days and want them back, but it seems we just can’t stop arguing.
Is our marriage in trouble?
You want to know about arguing, huh? Well you came to the right place! I used to be the king of the argument! I’ve won arguments with men, women and children! Of course, I’ve lost arguments with parked cars, hedge trimmers, and, just recently, a Christmas tree. I even had an argument with a pair of boxer shorts that thought they were too small for me to get into (I thought I won that one but, in the end, I lost big!)
Oh, wait… you say you want to stop arguing. Are you sure? Well, if that’s the case, you need to talk to my wife. She’s the reason I had to stop. Allow me to explain what’s probably going on, and what you can do about it, if you really want to:
WHAT’S ON YOUR TABLE? Let me paint you a quick picture. Think of your marriage as a kitchen table. The four legs that make it stable are love, respect, trust, and communication. As long as all four of those legs are sturdy, your table can stand just about anything; work stress, home stress children, bills, in-laws, sickness, tough times, etc. etc.
However, if any one of those legs gets wobbly, it needs to be fixed and quickly. If not, it gets more and more wobbly, eventually the table comes crashing down, and you lose everything you had resting on it. And, in my humble opinion, no leg gives out on marriages more often than communication. Luckily, I believe it’s also the easiest to fix.
IF YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO ARGUE, THEN JUST STOP: As I said, when I first met my wife, I was the king of the argument. I learned it from my mother. She worked in disagreement the way other artists work in pastels or oils. And if I’d been allowed to perform, I could have been that good. I bet I could have won every argument, right up until my divorce. But, my wife cheats at arguing. Anytime we disagree, before I can dig in my heels and sink in my teeth, she stops. She just stops talking about it. And I don’t mean she ignores me or gives me the silent treatment; she just doesn’t argue back about the issue, no matter what I say. What the hell kind of game is that? And I can’t argue all by myself! I’ve tried, but it can’t be done. Then she waits until I‘ve forgotten all of my best retorts, and brings it up again later. If I try to argue again, she stops again! Pretty soon, we end up just talking about the real problem, instead of having that knock down drag out that I was looking forward to. Now I’m a pro, so once in a while I can get a little row out of her, but hardly ever. Sure, this works out great for communicating and keeps or marriage strong, but now I have to go out looking for others to argue with, just to stay in practice. Of course, this trick doesn’t work if you’re one of those people who has to have the last word, but you aren’t one of those people… are you?
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ARGUMENT AND DISCUSSION:
1. A discussion = People take turns really listening to each other.
An argument = Everyone’s talking; nobody’s listening.
2. A discussion = Two people against a problem.
An argument = Two people against each other.
3. A discussion = Is about the situation at hand.
An argument = Is seldom actually about the thing being argued over.
4. A discussion = Is about an important issue.
An argument = Is seldom about anything except who’s right and who’s wrong.
5. A discussion =There are millions of good reasons to have one.
An argument = There is NO good reason to have one.
6. A discussion = Can solve a problem.
An argument = Never really solves anything.
7. A discussion = Ends when people agree on a solution.
An argument = Doesn’t end: it just waits to be brought up in the next argument.
8. A discussion = The people who solve the problem win.
An argument = Nobody wins.
OKAY SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW? Let me be blunt. If you’re arguing, it’s because there are some unresolved issues. If you’re arguing more, it’s because you’re communicating less. If you’re communication ends all together, so will your marriage. If you wanted to end the marriage, you’d have written to a lawyer and not me. So… Go talk (and listen) to your husband. Talk about what’s really wrong. Deep down, you probably know what the real issues are, and he probably knows too, but you may both be afraid to open up about them. If you still can’t get to the real problems, or if you can’t figure out what to do about them, talk to a marriage counselor. It takes hard work, it takes patience, and you both have to want to communicate instead of arguing. In time, your relationship can be as strong as it was in the beginning; maybe even stronger. Of course, it means you’ll have to practice your arguing skills someplace else! Good luck to you both. I’ll be praying that it all works out.
William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter @goodenoughguy1.