I have said it before and I will say it again: fighting in your marriage is very normal. But because you’re in a marriage, you’re also still working toward the same goal: a healthy, thriving marriage that brings joy.
This is something that hits home for Brian and I. We get into some really good battles. So when I share my advice here, it’s from the stuff we are actively working on in our marriage. We’re always looking for ways to improve our fights so that we come to a resolution quicker.
If we aren’t working towards resolution, we will be left broken. That brokenness, if left unchecked, can cause us to isolate from our spouse, our community, causing more shame. That’s why the heart behind every argument is to move towards each other, even if it’s painful.
So, from one couple in the trenches to another, here are some of the strategies we work hard to implement:
1. Assume the best in each other.
If we assume the best in someone’s tone or offhand comment, we can avoid the fight or blowout all together. We all have bad days and say things we don’t mean. So Brian and I really try to say out loud that we assume the best in one another. This way there’s less room for anger to well up.
2. Treat that person how you would want to be treated.
I don’t want to be called names or be disrespected. The Golden Rule applies in marriage, too. Even though I’m angry and upset, getting rude or disrespectful will only escalate, not solve the problem.
3. If you are 1% of the problem, take 100% of the blame.
That is something my parents taught me. When we fight we often get really puffed up and prideful in our point of view and perspective. Something that diffuses fights is humility and taking responsibility for your actions, even if the other person hasn’t taken their part yet.
4. Divorce is never on the table.
A rule that Brian and I have established from the beginning is that even if the fight gets super bad, the D word is not something we say. No matter how angry we get, no matter how upset, no matter how prideful, no matter what was said, Divorce is not a tool in our argument. It’s not an option for us, even if things get uncomfortable. We’re humans that don’t want pain, so when we see a way out, we want to take it because it feels less painful. Divorce can often appear like the easy way out–we’ve seen that happen with people we know and it’s always WAY more complicated than it seemed at first. The reality is, we need to face the pain and work together towards understanding.
As I said before, these are lessons Brian and I continue to learn in real time. We have had our fair share of big blowouts! I want to normalize not just fighting, but the process of working together through the argument. We grow SO much when we come to the other side of the argument; I know you can too.
This is spot on! If you never have a single fight/argument/disagreement (call it what you want) it most likely means that one person is shoving down their views for the sake of keeping the peace, and that isn’t sustainable.
One thing that has helped my spouse and I, in addition to what you said, is taking forgiveness seriously. This goes hand in hand with taking responsibility for your contribution to the conflict. It’s super cheesy, but when one of us has messed up, we actually say out loud “I’m sorry for … please forgive me.” It’s quite awkward at first, but we have a deal that once you’ve apologized and the other has forgiven you, that thing you apologized for is off the table and cannot be brought up as ammo in future arguments. This has been so freeing, and honestly helped dismantle my own defensiveness, knowing that once we have addressed something, I don’t have to worry about my spouse bringing it up in a laundry list of complaints in future arguments. Of course this only works if you truly mean it when you apologize and don’t intend to repeat the behavior. This would not apply to more serious habitual concerns.
Thanks for sharing, I always appreciate how you use transparency about your own struggles to help others!