How to IMPROVE YOUR DISPUTATION – How to argue well in a marriage
First, concurrent friction between spouses is entirely normal, anyone who “never argues” or lacks all dispute are either oblivious, coexisting or lying. Fallen, sinful people do not always see eye-to-eye and struggle with self-centeredness, period.
- Qualifiers – As long as the intensity is not increasing with every interaction – there are possible resolutions in sight – there should be at least a 70-30 split between no disputes and disputation in a healthy marriage (70% of the time no quarreling, 30% of the time or less disputations of varying intensities)
- PRACTICE #1 - FEMALE / MALE – Careful avoidance of “ALWAYS” “NEVER” “EVERY TIME” – NO Globalization – no expansion of the complaint/issue
- PRACTICE #2 - FEMALE 1:30/2 min. time limit on monologues – not 6 paragraphs and then “Are you even listening? What did I say? Huh? THAT was the last sentence…are you kidding me?”
- PRACTICE #3 – MALE / FEMALE Maintain a calm, subdued demeanor – volume increase is its own message
- PRACTICE #4 – MALE / FEMALE ASK: “What are you hearing me say?” WORD MEANINGS CHANGE IN EMOTIVE DISPUTATION –
- Example: A wife’s request to “take out the trash” or to begin a big spousal discussion in the last minutes of the big game transforms to the husband into: “I don’t care about your relaxation or hobby! You don’t work enough for me. My agenda should be given immediate attentiveness.” Words “change” in transition between the sexes
- PRACTICE #5 - Never confide about spousal issues with SINGLE FRIENDS – and be careful & offer only limited info. to parents (parents and single friends who will take longer to forgive, not have context and be near completely un-objective as to which side they take)
- PRACTICE # 6 - MALE / FEMALE - Timing of disputes – try to engage between 11 am to 1 pm, there is a ton of recent data (When by Daniel Pink) on this (this is also the time frame of best therapy or best counseling), if this is not possible, then 5 pm to 7pm. If the topic is pushed to later time for resolution then affirm with a context of appreciation as you push the dispute to a future discussion
- Example - “Let’s discuss this over a dinner at your favorite restaurant where I can give this the attention it deserves.”
- PRACTICE #7- MALE / FEMALE - No transference of angst and frustration from spouse’s mother or father (in-laws) disappointment or offense –
- Example: “My parents warned me about this (verbally building an army against the spouse) or “I am not just making this stuff up…even Mom & Dan noticed this!” In-law issues are to be treated as separate from your own – your husband is not his mom, dad or sister – your wife is not either & one does not need to involve the extended family community as this almost always fails to resolve the conflict
- PRACTICE #8 – MALE/FEMALE – Make a clean distinction between motivation and impact or expression, if one is constantly asking to be given the benefit of doubt then there is likely a problem in the expression or airing of the issue – your motivations or “what I meant…” mean little when the import of your actions constantly appear to reveal something else entirely
- PRACTICE #9 – MALE – Withholding oneself emotionally or physically should always be temporary to let emotions subside. Whichever spouse withdraws needs, ideally, to be the first to reengage – the have the culpability of reopening the issue.
- PRACTICE #10 – Confession – OWN whatever you can of the dispute. While there are hardly ever any circumstances where the culpability is all one sided, there is also few to no disputes where the blame, misbehavior, violation is completely equal (50/50). Get in the habit of asking yourself, “Where could I have done better in this situation? How have my actions reinforced this issue? How could I have done this better?”
- The three topics of disagreement most argued over, most intensely and most often are sex, finances and kids – children are produced from sex and kids take the largest toll on the finances.