Some marriages seem to dissolve into nothing but one argument after another. You argue about money, how to discipline the children, work, family, friends and even the weather. At least it feels like you argue about even simple things like the weather, because you and your spouse seem to be unable to have the simplest conversation without it turning into a screaming match.
Arguing can become a habit. We develop patterns of speech and a way of thinking that is combative or aggressive. Conflict in a marriage is natural, but how you handle that conflict is what makes the difference between a successful marriage and a marriage that develops irreconcilable differences.
Often the constant arguing is just a symptom of a much deeper problem. You can develop resentments and anger in a marriage. These kinds of negative feelings will then be given expression whenever opportunity presents itself. For example, you have grown to resent how your husband always makes you feel bad about dealing with his family. So when he mentions anything about your mother you automatically get angry.
The real issue is that you have not told your spouse how he is making you feel. The real issue is not that he said anything wrong about your mother. The real issue is that you don’t want him to talk about your family at all because he has made you feel so bad about his family. So the argument quickly takes off and neither one of you actually states the true problem. The underlying problem is hidden in the arguing.
There is a right way and a wrong way to argue. You notice that there is no suggestion that marriage will be argument free. Husbands and wives will always have arguments, but it’s their frequency and intensity that determine the damage inflicted on the marriage.
Constant arguing is a sign there are deeper problems in the marriage. Spouses learn how to set each other off with their choice of words. When you are feeling frustrated or angry, it’s usually easy to choose the fighting words that allow you to vent your emotions. But this is a very unproductive way to express emotions and feelings.
For example, you can begin an attack against your spouse simply by saying, “You always make me feel so bad!” You can also use threats such as “If you say that again, I will leave.” These kinds of statements are bound to place your spouse on the defensive. Instead you need to learn how to express what you want to say without going on the attack with the first words out of your mouth.
Learning to Listen
Arguments that seem to have taken on a life of their own can be extremely destructive. When you fight about the same things over and over again it means a problem is not being solved. The only way to begin dealing with the problem is to begin identifying your spouse’s needs before responding. It may be your husband is making you feel bad about his family because he worries his family is being intrusive. Instead of telling you that, he covers up his concerns by being defensive and turning the tables on you.
Once a pattern of arguing has been established, it takes real effort to change. Since arguing can become a habit, thoughtless words are spoken quickly. Once the words are out of your mouth, it’s more difficult to prevent the arguing. You need to learn to express your real feelings and not let your emotions drive your words.
One of the main recommendations a counselor makes is to change how you tell your spouse about your real feelings. You can do this by making statements that begin with “I”. Instead of arguing with your spouse and telling him or her about all of their faults, you can explain to your spouse what you are feeling or thinking.
If you are unable to change your pattern of arguing on your own, it is highly recommended that you attend counseling sessions. Arguing can tear a marriage apart and lead to divorce. Constant arguing usually leads nowhere which leaves the real problems unresolved. A counselor can help you identify the problems and then assist you with developing solutions that fit your situation.