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How to Settle an Argument With a Spouse

by Candice Coleman

Whether your anger reached its boiling point after one big disagreement or appeared when you discovered a sink of dirty dishes, arguments have the potential to be destructive to the marriage. While every relationship eventually encounters conflict and arguments, knowing how to settle them properly can reduce stress and bring the two of you closer together. It can also help the two of you work together to avoid creating the problem again in the future.

Think about your past conflict resolution strategies. Though you may be angry at your spouse, yelling, swearing or calling your partner names is unlikely to do anything but damage your marriage, according to the TwoOfUs.org article "When Words Wound: Solving Conflict Without Hurting Your Partner." Couples can also fall into the pattern of ignoring what the other person is saying, believing that they themselves are correct. Yelling threats such as "I'm going to divorce you!" or blaming your spouse for your behavior, for example saying, "I wouldn't have to yell if you would do it right!" are also counterproductive. If you are on the receiving end of such behavior, it may be ideal to remove yourself from the situation and seek marital counseling.

Keep the focus on resolving the problem, and not on being right, advises professor and coach Preston Ni in the Psychology Today article "How Successful Couples Resolve Conflict." It is also important to focus on what started the argument: Is it really worth the stress on your marriage? While it may be worth it to bring up overspending, it may be better for your marriage to simply pick up the dirty socks around the house yourself. If the argument is already in progress, you can always apologize and offer to move forward.

Focus on creating "I" statements when addressing something in the marriage that is upsetting you. Rather than assigning blame to your partner or focusing on absolutes, such as "You always..." or "You never...", an "I" statement keeps the focus on your feelings, according to Clay Tucker-Ladd, Ph.D. in "Building Assertiveness in 4 Steps" on PsychCentral.com. You might tell your spouse, "I feel hurt when you spend Sunday with your friends, because we don't get to spend much time together." Your spouse than gets the opportunity to share her side of the story.

Create a solution to the problem. After each of you have voiced your views, talk about possible ways to keep the problem from surfacing again, advises the TwoOfUs.org article. Maybe your spouse can spend a few hours of the day with his friends, and the remainder of the day with you. If overspending is an issue, creating a budget together, keeping track of receipts or contacting one another about purchases over a certain amount could help.

Tip

  • How you argue can play a bigger role in divorce risk than stress in your lives, how committed you are to one another and your personalities, according to the American Psychological Association in "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" Conflict resolution that involves more anger, pessimism and a lack of support for one another can increase the odds that a couple will divorce within the next 10 years. Getting help for these communication styles early could reduce your risk.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

Photo Credits

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