Marriage Advice: Stop Having the Same Fight
If you two keep having the same fight, break the habit and have a much happier marriage.
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.