Fighting For The Long-Haul

It’s no secret that marriage can royally suck sometimes. You occasionally find yourself wanting to pull your hair out in frustration. You briefly consider grabbing the nearest anything and whipping it through a window to relieve some stress. You often find yourself biting your tongue or holding your breath to hold in those bitter words that will undoubtedly lead to an all-out war.

Yes. Marriage is hard.

So how do people seriously manage to stay married for ten, twenty or even fifty years?!

I’m definitely no marriage professional, and husband and I are probably not the ideal role models when it comes to maintaining a good marriage, but I’d like to think that there’s one thing that we’ve got in the bag that all couples struggle with.

Communication. Aka: Arguing.

Why do I say arguing? Well, because I have yet to encounter a couple who solves their problems through calm discussion and constant compromise. Arguing is what couples do. But it doesn’t have to be an all-out war every time a new subject is brought up. In fact, you’d be surprised just how effective arguing can be when done properly.

It has taken nearly five years of marriage and nearly ten years of being together for husband and I to figure it out. But now that we have, our marriage couldn’t be better. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to murder him some days. But when one of us snaps and pulls out the first subject of debate, we very effortlessly fall into an easy and quick debate and figure it out. It doesn’t always happen this way, but more often than not we figure it out and move on to happier things. We don’t have a single long-standing problem or debate. Not one. We never ever wake up angry with one another. I’d like to think that speaks for itself right there.

Now, like I said, I don’t consider husband and I marriage professionals, but I thought I’d share our methods for an amiable argument. It works stupendously for us, so maybe it will work for you, too:

  • Put the weapons away – It’s so easy to let your frustrations take over and start throwing dagger-like words at your spouse to let off some steam. But, really? That does nothing but piss them of and make them do it right back at you. And once it starts, it’s easy to let it snowball. Then from there it turns into a “LOUD NOISES!” contest. So just do yourself a favor and keep the hurtful comments to a minimum.
  • Compromise – Realize that an argument is happening because there are two opposing forces at work. Picture a tug-of-war match in your head. You can’t find a happy-medium by giving one side all of the power. If that happens, you’re dragging your partner through the mud in the process. Do you really want that? Sometimes, all both sides want is just to not be the loser in the scenario. Distribute the power and walk away happy.
  • Listen – If your partner approaches you with an issue, clearly it’s something that’s been on their mind. No matter how asinine you think the argument is, do the respectful thing and give them the chance to tell you what they’re feeling before you shoo the argument away. Nothing hurts more than having your concerns dismissed as if they were insignificant. It may not bother you, but if you want a happy partnership, do the right thing and show them the respect and attention that they deserve.
  • Joke/laugh – Lighten the mood, for God’s sake! Talking things out doesn’t have to be a migraine-inducing process! Throw a joke out there now and again or give your partner a hug throughout the debate to let them know that you still love them despite the disagreement. And honestly, a light mood is the perfect conductor for a healthy and friendly debate and you’ll find that you can bring up those recurring arguments with a fresh perspective and a happy ending.
  • Empathize/Sympathize – Admit it. When your partner shows you that they truly understand and respect what you’re feeling, you’re more willing to compromise, yourself. So return the favor and try to understand what your partner is going through on their end.
  • Don’t rub it in – Yes. You were right. Now, move on. Rubbing it in someone’s face or constantly bringing the issue up an hour, a day or a month later isn’t good for anyone. The only thing you’re doing by bringing up old wounds is opening them back up again. So once you’re both confident that the problem is sealed and you’re both satisfied, pack it away and forget about it.
  • Acknowledge – No one is always right. Ever. Sometimes you have to know when to acknowledge defeat and apologize.
  • Stay engaged – A one-way argument can be one of the most frustrating arguments out there. Trying to express your opinion to a brick wall not only feels extremely counterproductive, but it will build a rage so potent that it’s bound to explode into a full-out blame-fest.
  • Don’t avoid the issue – Walking away mid-argument is a sure way to piss off your partner to the point of contemplating murder. No one wants to have to explain why there’s a dead body in the basement, so do yourself a favor and keep that ass in the seat until things are resolved.
  • Be honest – Telling lies or even half-truths is stupid. Plain and simple. How do you ever expect to make the argument a thing of the past if you can’t even be honest? Now, that said, I know some issues are a little – or a lot – more touchy than others. But let me tell you something – Coming clean on your own rather than being caught in a lie does wonders for absolving your crimes. Ideally, your partner will be more willing to give you the chance to do what’s needed to earn their trust and respect again. No, it doesn’t always end that way, but those odds are still dramatically better than dragging it out and getting caught in a lie.
  • Talk –  if you don’t want the argument to last for a million years, open up that mouth and talk. It’s amazing to me how quickly things can be resolved between husband and me when he actually opens up that trap and tells me what he’s really thinking rather than grumbling what he thinks I want to hear.
  • Stay on topic – Jumping from one blame to another without actually solving a single thing is a sure way to lead to a strained relationship. Even if you know you’re about to lose a debate, just stick it out and get the argument over with before moving on to the next one. Nothing feels better than a resolved argument, and you’ll both be happy it’s a thing of the past.

So, after all of that was said, what could you summarize all of that wordiness into?

TALK. Just talk to one another. If you’re mad about something, say it. Share it. Express your feelings. But do it in a way that you know your spouse will receive it best and reciprocate. How do you expect to stay happily married when you’re holding onto grudges like you depend on them?

And the great thing about this is that you don’t need to utilize all of these “topics” and go through them like a list. Really, we usually only need one (usually humor) to get through a debate and move on with little to no injury. So do you see what I did here? I just gave you a goldmine of valuable tools for a successful and productive argument! You. Are. Welcome.

Now, go. Have a great fight!

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