Lisa was so angry when she called. “He always has to be right. He’d rather be right than have a relationship with me. He will do anything to win the argument.”
Lisa and Vann, married for seven years, were at a breaking point in their marriage when they called us for a Marriage Intensive. There were few words spoken between them that did not end up in an argument. Their sex life was absent. Their hearts were distant. And their commitment to their marriage was all but done.
Arguments Predict Divorce
According to the last few decades of research by The Gottman Institute, The strongest predictors of divorce are the frequency and intensity of arguments. All couples argue, but couples who do not make a life together forever marriage have frequent and intense arguments.
Why We Argue
There are several reasons why we argue. We believe that arguments happen because the way we are interpreting what has happened is so different. It is as if we have a movie playing in our head about what we just experienced. It is based upon everything we have ever experienced in our lives. And we are sure that the movie playing in our head is exactly correct.
However, our spouse has a different movie playing in their head. It is based upon their life story. And what they just experienced or observed as been placed into their movie in a way that makes sense to them. And their perception is their fact.
Some of us argue out of our need to not be disrespected. Some of us argue out of a need to control our environment, including the people around us. Others of us argue because we have a vengeful nature and want to get back at the other person.
Winning the Argument and Losing Your Marriage
No matter why you argue, when you argue you are hurting your relationships. When one of you has to be the winner, the other has to be the loser. If there is a win-lose scenario, your marriage is the real loser.
What To Do Instead Of Winning
Instead of focusing on winning, focus on your future together. Here are some things that will help.
- If you are emotionally triggered, take a time out. Time Outs will help you soothe yourself and bring the rational part of your brain back online to help you make good decisions.
- Seek to understand your spouse’s point of view. Ask your spouse to let you know what the movie playing in their head is about what happened. Listen with the goal of understanding what your spouse is sharing with you about the issue.
- Discover where there are agreements and express them to your spouse. Confirming that you have found areas where you agree will help disarm your spouse.
- Communicate what you need to say about the issue in a non-threatening and sharing way. Let your spouse know only the important things you need to say to move the conversation toward a future together.
- Ask yourself if it matters in the grand scheme of things that you are your spouse disagree about this issue. If not, allow your spouse to believe what they believe and allow yourself space to believe what you believe.
- Be future focused. What do you need to do or say that will help you build the kind of relationship that you truly want? Take actions to create the marriage you want. Offer apologies if appropriate. Take responsibility for what you can in the situation. And communicate your long term relationship goals to your spouse.
What do you have to say?
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This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.