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Ask The Good Enough Guy: Is My Marriage In Trouble?

 


Hi Will:

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?

Constant Battle

Hey CB,

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.

More from The Good Enough Guy:
My Husband’s a Homewrecker
I’m Not Attracted To My Balding Boyfriend

When Should He Meet My Kids

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.

         

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Ella Rucker

    January 28, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Will, great piece! I have always said that you only really have one argument in a relationship and it’s that one argument that breaks the relationship apart. You broke that theory down. It’s that one unresolved argument. You are right. It never goes away. I get so tired of hearing the same points for different arguments. I’m going to try this out. I’m sure if the “king” can abdicate I can, too.

  2. Cody Williams

    January 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

    To answer CB’s question:

    Yes.

    Unless you take Will’s advice.

    Been there, done that.

  3. Will Jones

    January 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Ella-Thank you for the compliment! Yeah, the wife trained me in this. LOL. My problem was that I was great at talking, but I didn’t listen well. I said what I wanted to say, and then while she was speaking, I wouldn’t hear her becasue I’d be too busy thinking what I was going to say next. So she started saying her part, letting me say my part, and then saying nothing. This gave me hours to think over what she was actually saying, and the truth is, and she was usually on point. She’s smart, but I’m smarter becasue I married her! 🙂

  4. Will Jones

    January 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Cody- Thanks for agreeing. The good thing is, even if her marriage is in trouble, it’s in the best trouble of the four. Broken communication is just like a blocked artery; catch it early, get everything flowing again, and then do the right things to keep it flowing. It can be rebuilt in as little as a few days, once the blockage is out of the way. Love, trust, and respect… those all take years to rebuild, if they can be rebuilt at all, and they may never be as strong as they were in the beginning.

    That adding reading is good stuff, assuming the question came from an African American woman. If it didn’t, I still think much of it would be relevant. I believe most relationship problems end up in the same form, even when they stem from different situations.

    It’s always good to hear from you, Bruh.

  5. Dave M

    January 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Great piece, Will!

    I also have one little thing that my wife, Andrea, and I tried to follow even though it was hard.

    The stopping arguing thing is brilliant, it really is. I wish I had the temperament and the stamina to follow that. But the one thing we did do was make sure that we enver went to bed with it hanging over our heads.

    Once we had kids we also made sure that the kids knew that we came to a resolution. The whole line of “never argue in front of the children” isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible and it’s silly. Marriage is a battle sometimes. It’s hard, confusing and worse if you can’t communicate properly. But if the kids see that even at the worst of times you end up fixing things and their Mom comes over and sits on Dad’s lap to be funny or kisses you goodnight then they see that their parents are stable and love each other, no matter how much they might have argued the night before. The important thing, as you said, is that you talk, together, not at the same time.

  6. Will Jones

    January 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Dave- I can’t do the “stop arguing” thing either! LOL. When I do it, it feels like I lost the argument. But when my wife does it, I feel like she beat me! Never going to bed angry is a good idea, but it also shows how few problems we have that can’t be solved or at least discussed without anger. I think, a lot of the time, the anger is just show to make the arguer seem more serious to the arguee. That’s a great point you raise though. Thanks for the comment.

  7. m.e. johnson

    January 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Well Will, I guess I’ll have to adore you from afar because I won’t be around an arguer. Was never any good at it, therefore avoid it like the plague. I state my case then I’m done talking. What I’d do is write later. I recently found an old journal with some angry things in it. If I’d said those things aloud, no friend or fam member would be speaking to me yet. So I have nothing to add to your excellent advice.

  8. Will Jones

    January 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    M.E.- no worries; I pretty much only argue with inanimate objects now. They don’t hold a grudge, and MOST of them never speak to me anyway (my phone and my GPS can get really mouthy on occasion.)

  9. Fawn

    January 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    LOVE this! I am a huge proponent of argue-free marriages. Whenever I say that, people assume that means my husband and I keep alot in and brush over disagreements and that’s couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the 8 years we’ve been married, we’ve simply preferred the art of discussion over the disaster of arguments. I LOVE how you’ve distinguished the difference. Do you mind it I report your Arguments vs. Disagreements on my site? I will, of course, include a link back to your site so my readers know where the information came from. I’d love to spread this message a little more. My site is HappyWivesClub.com and we have over 20,000 members in more than 90 countries around the world. Thank you in advance for your consideration and job well done!

  10. Will Jones

    January 31, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Fawn- I would love for you to re-post me! I’ve been to your site a few times; there’s good stuff happening over there.

    “…the art of discussion over the disaster of arguments…” is a dead-on description. Have you ever watched two people fuss and bicker and scream over some minor issue that could have easily been talked through? It has a negative effect on everything; the couple, the kids, the relationship, and even family members or friends that are dragged in and have to listen to one or both sides of the fight. And in the end, the only way the problem can actually be solved is if the arguers cool down, calm down, and come to an agreement… which they could have done in the first place and saved themselves all of that time, effort, and silliness! LOL.

  11. Rene Syler

    January 31, 2012 at 7:49 am

    @Fawn: GEM assistant Ella, will get with you on what we require for a repost. We love Will and his advice is spot on. Thanks so much!

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