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4 Ways to Fight with Your Spouse without Destroying your Marriage

4 Ways to Fight with Your Spouse without Destroying your Marriage

How to restore peace in your home.

by

She is just a little girl but she has seen too much. A 10 year old asked if she could speak with me privately.

“What does it mean if I hear my mother crying in the night? And why does my father say, 'Tell your mother I’m not coming home for supper' and my mother says, 'Tell your father we are going out to get sneakers,' if they are both sitting right there?”

What is there to say?

All couples disagree about some things. For some it is in-laws, for others it is money, dividing up household responsibilities, or how to discipline the kids. As long as two individuals live together there will be always be different ideas and opinions. The issue becomes serious when parents don’t know how to resolve their disagreements with dignity and respect. Children grow up seeing constant conflict and hearing their parents bicker. They live with negativity and inappropriate ways of dealing with marital discord.

Kids wish that their home would be a happy home, one without yelling, arguing, or emotional withdrawals. When parents hold onto resentments or don’t know how to find good resolution, the children absorb the hostilities.

Marriage should never be thought of as a chronic pain. It can be our greatest source of happiness. We are living with our best friend, the person who shares all our joys, all our hurts; the person whose love we carry within our hearts forever. But when we lack the right tools to communicate properly, disagreements and conflicts can make married life miserable.

Judaism describes our homes as a ‘mikdash me’at,' a miniature sanctuary. Children need this haven to grow up feeling safe and secure. When we create an atmosphere of tension and strife in our homes, we slowly chip away not only at our marriages, but at the sense of emotional security that our children need to flourish in life.

How can a couple work out their differences without hurting each other and destroying their marriage?

4 Steps to Conflict Resolution
without Killing Your Marriage

1. Keep your Discussions Private

When you know that there is a contentious issue, don’t clash in front of others. Decide together that from now on you will take your discussions to a private place at a private time. When you fight in public, you lose a sense of dignity and often feel ashamed. You blame your partner and now you grow even angrier. Children do not have to hear the details of your arguments being volleyed back and forth. If you say to me that children should be exposed to parental fighting because that is real life, then I say to you that our children are exposed to enough pain and challenges in this world of ours. Hostility between parents should not be exposed to your children. The same goes for one sided conversations or thinking that your kids don’t hear you fighting in the other room. When children hear parents arguing, they often become forced to take sides or align themselves with one parent over the other. They become caught in the middle and get involved in parental arguments. This is not only unhealthy; it further breaks down the relationship between husband and wife.

2. Establish Rules of engagement

No matter how opinionated you are or how correct you feel you in your views, you do not have the right to put down your spouse. We should never believe that we can strip another person of their dignity; and certainly not our partner in life. Children cannot grow up thinking that it is okay to belittle, yell, scream, intimidate, mock, threaten, put down, or be hostile to one another just because you have a difference of opinion.

Of course it goes without saying that physical violence – grabbing, shoving, or any other means of physical assault is out of the question.

Unfortunately, when we become passionate about our views we act in ways that we come to regret afterwards. Husbands and wives should sit down before the conflicts occur and establish rules of conduct for when they disagree. This way we ensure that we deal with our differences in a respectful manner. We certainly cannot expect more from our children’s behavior than we do from ourselves.

3. Discover the Source of your Anger

There are times that we allow emotions to simmer until they boil over. There comes a huge blow-up and we have no idea why this fight became so hostile. The problem is that we are angry about other things and all the emotion comes out now. We both think that we are fighting about spending Sunday with your parents but deep inside I am resentful of your late nights in the office and I have been furious that you keep missing dinner. Or I mention that we have an invitation to go out with couples and you lose it. What I don’t know is that you are brewing from the last time we went out and feel that I totally invalidated you in front of our friends. We never resolved the issue and just held onto the bad feelings.

Don’t allow emotions to go unchecked. If you are upset, communicate with your spouse in a respectful way. Otherwise, you will find yourself exploding and overreacting. This type of fighting quickly becomes all-consuming as pent up anger threatens to overtake the conversation.

4. Be Solution Oriented

Many fights are just accusations, complaints or criticisms flung against each other. We’ve got to stop playing the blame game and learn to live in unity. Life will bring us challenges. No one is immune. Arguing about whose fault it is accomplishes zero. Instead of going back and forth, decide to seek solutions together. The way to do this is after we communicate our emotions, instead of just leaving the discussion with bad feeling, practice good communication skills. If you have a sarcastic edge, bite your tongue. Take a moment and reflect back what you believe your spouse is trying to tell you. Try to consider your partner’s perspective; you cannot always be right. Resolve that you both attempt to bring a solution to the table and discuss the ways you can make this work. Once you do find resolution – be it an apology and forgiveness, a fresh approach in dealing with work and money issues, a more effective discipline plan – do not go backwards and bring up old complaints. Solutions bring us forward. Do not rehash old arguments.

Hostile fighting depletes us and destroys the most precious relationship that we have. We can resolve our disagreements respectfully and create an atmosphere of peace despite our differences.

Published: July 6, 2013


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Visitor Comments: 23

(12) Anonymous, July 31, 2013 4:43 PM

confused. How does one just "grit their teeth" when they know their husband is wrong

I too have been living with a husband who feels he is always right and insists we do things his way, even though experience has shown that his way usually may not have been the correct direction to take. We have encountered loss of money and friends because we did it his way. Yes I do try to open his eyes to help him see that his choices may be unwise. I do it in a calm soft voice without attacking him or putting him down. No matter how I try to say things in a loving way he takes it as an attack and says I am screaming at him and nasty and accuses me of taking other peoples side. I am frustrated because my opinion should count and I was given a brain to think and am entitled to my opinion. I do end up stepping back and gritting my teeth, holding back the tears (if I am able to ) however it makes me feel sad and angry that my opinion does not matter. So my question is, how do you grit your teeth and still feel good about yourself? We all need to feel loved and respected and stepping back and agreeing with a controlling (loving at times) husband who may be making poor decisions that can hurt us does not create love and respect in my heart and mind.I really would like to learn how to block out the yelling and insults and negativity and accusations that I am attacking and shouting when that is the furthest thing from my mind. All I want is peace, and all I have in my heart is love and the desire to please. Also how do you hold onto feelings of love when you are treated in a demeaning manner? Do you still have self respect? Please understand I am not ridiculing you, I really need to understand. I will attempt to step back and grit my teeth, as you suggested. Perhaps a peaceful home is a loving home. Thanks

(11) John Hughes, July 22, 2013 3:11 PM

Slovie,I apologize for not writing sooner . After reading your article I went to Mexico , it was there when I realized that I didn't thank you for another wonderful article . As usual you write when I need it . All your articles are saved in my phone so I have a reference library . Once again I can't thank you enough.

(10) scott, July 18, 2013 6:06 AM

If all else fails

In general I agree with most of that.

However, about a year ago my wife and I were fighting and it was out of control. Looking back it was really scary. We'd been up most of the night and I'd had enough. At nine in the morning I went online found a marriage counselor that would meet with us on a walk in basis. In my craziness I thought that this woman would listen to what I was saying and tell my wife that she was wrong (she was by the way-very wrong- and she sees it now) and that's how we'd solve things.

What happened was a standard intake session...family of origin and all that psycho-babble. When we couldn't calm down she started talking about meds for me and if we'd considered a trial separation...we thought it was just another fight and this woman was ridiculous. We hated her. Finally something we agreed upon. We walked out and talked and realized that it was a big deal. It was a wake up call.

We pretty much follow the rules you set above these days. And we actually get along. Today we are on our way back to the states to visit family-traveling is something I hate and she's disorganized about and therefore historically a good excuse to fire up a big fight, but we were sitting on the balcony this morning just enjoying each others company. There's 37 crises happening as I write this..but my marriage is not one of them . Life is better.

One day I'm gonna find that counselor and thank her...we were so out of it we don't even remember her name...paid in cash. She has no idea what that meeting did for us. Probably looks in the paper each morning for our picture on the police blotter.

But sometimes bringing in a third party to act as a mirror can help you see the ugliness. It's a strategy that I wouldn't use except as a last resort and certainly not with a person connected to you in any way. But it did work for us that one time.

(9) Jacob, July 15, 2013 10:45 AM

worst enemy

Slovie says that marriage is "living with our best friend." Maybe it is for some people. For many or most people, I think, marriage is living with our worst enemy. Maybe sometimes it's both.

Helen, February 9, 2014 4:22 PM

There are so many personalities in life and so many messed up childhoods that you start off as best friends and end up enemies. Our society tells us that we must stay together, we must work it out. We celebrate 25 years together, 50 years together, how WONDERFUL! Meanwhile was it 25 happy years, rarely. I guess someone has 25 happy years, at least they say they do, I'm at 25 years and we are not happy. We're not even friends, nevermind best friends. I would say enemies is right on target at this point. I've tried all of the things in this article but my husband spends his time angry and alone. I know he's in a depression, I wish he would know it. I just go out with my family alone most days.

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