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Marriage Advice: Stop Having the Same Fight

If you two keep having the same fight, break the habit and have a much happier marriage.
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Beyond that, the battle's loser is quite likely to have some residual anger simmering, which will wind up igniting the next fight. And that's hardly the way any of us want our couple time to unfold.

So winning a war of words in marriage has to mean something entirely different — namely, finding a solution to cool off the hot-button issue and resolving the fight so it simply vanishes. I'm not saying it's easy to get past that urge to win. But I promise that trading that seething "See, I'm right!" sensation at the end of a spat for the halo of warmth that a happy, respectful marriage has is totally worth it. (Wendy and Steven, who no longer lock horns over their son's homework, would agree.) So put on your mediator's hat and follow these three guidelines:

Step 1: Take a Seat

At the start of your next tiff, you'll probably feel the urge to wag your finger at your husband and remind him that you've told him a hundred — or even a thousand — times that what he just did ticks you off. But rather than pressing the point, literally keep your hands at your sides and say something like this: "Honey, can you please sit down with me now, because I want to talk to you about something?" Not only will this give you a few seconds to calm down and think before you start speaking, it will also let your partner know that the issue at hand is serious and needs to be resolved.

Put the plan into action: Margot, 42, of New York City, had for years been stymied about how to resolve her husband's habit of partially opening the mail when he came home from work and then leaving it on the dining table, intending to deal with it at a later time. Since that later time never seemed to arrive, bills went unpaid, invitations went without RSVPs, and their life was a lot messier around the edges than Margot could tolerate. Usually, when Margot learned that the mail situation had led to, say, a late fee, she'd erupt and blame her husband, loudly enough for the neighbors to hear.

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