Do you and your spouse argue? Most couples do. After all, disagreement in a marriage is natural from time to time. But studies show that how you argue will either strengthen your marriage or weaken it.
One problem in marital conflict is the tendency for couples to argue as if they’re a parent talking to a child. Saying things to your spouse like, “You should do this!” or “You had better do that!” will not resolve a problem. It only creates defensiveness. Why? Because they’re authoritative messages. It’s the way a parent would speak to a child, or how someone in authority would handle a subordinate.
What’s more effective is to talk adult-to-adult. This communicates in both tone and the words you use that your spouse is an adult, an equal. To do this, use “I feel” messages. Things like “I feel upset when you come home late” express your displeasure, but won’t as easily cause your spouse to feel belittled or attacked.
Another important tip is to keep your emotions from escalating. If each spouse interrupts the other and talks more loudly to get their point across, emotions will soon spill over, and hurtful words will be spoken. Stay calm, ask questions, and listen. When your spouse feels as though they’ve been heard, they’ll calm down, and the stage will be set for a healthy discussion.
Into every marriage a little disagreement will fall. But, handled correctly, God can use conflict to make your marriage even stronger.
For a daily dose of encouragement and perspective, check out Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, at JimDalyBlog.com.