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How to Argue When You're Married

by Sierra Koester, studioD

A successful marriage requires effort and hard work, and inevitably, you will have arguments with your spouse. While arguments are a normal part of any relationship, how you choose to argue with your spouse could determine whether you stay together or get a divorce in the long-run. Arguing in the right way helps you and your spouse solve problems more easily and allows you to grow as a couple.

Schedule a time to talk. In her book "How to Argue and Stay Married," clinical psychologist and therapist Dr. Betty Philips asserts you should try to schedule a time to discuss your issues with your spouse when both of you have the time to sit down and talk about them privately.

Decide what you would like the outcome to be. Before you sit down for a discussion with your spouse, think about what you would like to happen. Brainstorm different solutions to your issue, and decide which ones would be acceptable to you.

Listen to understand. When your partner is stating his point of view, allow him to talk uninterrupted. Really listen to what he has to say. According to psychologist and marital therapist Tony Fiore, many people aren't really listening when their spouses are talking. Instead, they are focused on formulating a response to what their spouses are saying. After your spouse is done expressing his feelings, thoughts and concerns, summarize what he's said in your own words to ensure you understand what he expressed.

Express your thoughts, feelings and needs. Use "I" statements when expressing yourself rather than "you" statements. Oftentimes, "you" statements may leave your spouse feeling blamed while "I" statements allow her to understand how you feel about the issue being discussed. For instance, if you are upset because you don't feel your spouse listens to you, avoid saying, "You never listen to me," as this is an accusation. Instead, try the "I" statement, "I feel ignored when I talk to you because you don't respond to what I've said. I would appreciate it if you could give me some verbal feedback when I'm talking to you." It is also important to focus on the issue being discussed. Don't digress or bring up the past.

Solve the problem. Brainstorm solutions to the issue with your spouse. Keep an open mind, and don't automatically reject every suggestion he has to offer. Each of you may need to compromise to reach an acceptable solution to the problem.

Evaluate the solution. Schedule another meeting to evaluate how the solution is working, suggests Dr. Phillips. If the solution isn't working as anticipated, use the evaluation meeting to find another acceptable solution to try.


  • If emotions become too intense during your disagreement, take a time-out. Agree on a time within the next 24 hours to resume the discussion.
  • Don't discuss your issues right before you need to sleep or go to work.


  • Name-calling, accusatory statements or threats will likely lead to defensiveness and an unproductive argument.

About the Author

Sierra Koester has been writing professionally since 2006, contributing to several websites and blogs. She received her B.A. in psychology from DePauw University in 2004.

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