My husband and I don’t always agree. Sometimes we have arguments over stupid things like the TV remote or where we want to eat. Most of the time these fights stem from something else entirely but manifest in simpler forms. We argue, but I feel that our marriage is strong and we are mature enough to work through an argument without throwing in the towel. How you handle those small arguments, and the big ones (like a disagreement on how many children you’ll have), is the true measure of how strong your marriage is.
No matter how in love you are, there will come a point in the relationship where you won’t agree. If a couple tells me they’ve never had an argument I am very leery of their relationship and if they’re telling me the truth. You just can’t spend an extended amount of time with anyone and not have some disagreements. It doesn’t mean you have to get into a screaming match. Mature arguments can, and should, take place calmly. Both sides should be allowed to express their opinions and then work through them to an agreeable solution. Marriages, like all relationships that you want to last, are often filled with compromise.
If you read my Facebook feed during my first months of parenthood, you read a lot of anger vented in the form of status updates. I’ve thought about deleting it all, but, I keep it there so I can go back and view it when I want to remind myself how much we’ve grown as a couple. I would argue that becoming parents is on the of the biggest, if not THE biggest, test to a marriage. It changes everything about your life. Not one part of your marriage is untouched when you bring a child into your home to stay. Having children made us both mature and change in many ways. I learned to ask for help and demand an equal partner. My husband learned to play an active role in all aspects of our lives. From cleaning to diaper changes, we needed to be as equal as possible to thrive in our new roles as parents. Life isn’t perfect, but we have come a long way from our days as new parents.
One of the best ways to get past arguments and stop the bickering in marriage is to voice your concerns. If you feel like you need help in an area and your partner is not meeting that need, sit down and talk about it. Don’t accuse them of being lazy or absent, just tell them you need some help. Don’t hold resentments. Resentment starts small and then spirals out of control quickly. It is not a productive road to go down because it’s hard to get out of the cycle. When resentment enters the picture little things like dishes left on the table turn into big arguments until you’ve forgotten what initially triggered it all.
Another key factor is to stop taking all your anger out on your partner. How do I know this? Because I am horrible to do it. My kids, a friend, another family member might do something that makes me angry and I don’t say anything. The anger festers all day, maybe all week, and then I lash out on the person I’m most comfortable with. He’s there, he might be doing something that annoys me, or not doing anything wrong at all, but then I just lose it because the angers been pent-up. It is easy to take frustrations out on the person you’re most comfortable with, but it is wrong and detrimental to the relationship. Problems cannot be fixed by casting them on another person. You have to fix the problem with the person you’re having it with, not make it worse by dragging someone else in. If you need to talk about what made you angry with your spouse, that’s fine. Just do it in a mature way. Not in a “I lost control and now you’re going to take the brunt of it” way.
If it’s hard for you to apologize face to face, write each other notes. Not angry notes. Cool off, take some time to breath and really think about what’s actually bothering you. Write it down, apologize, and ask for a solution. One you can both agree to. The written note can serve as a buffer and a platform for a conversation that needs to take place, but you may not know how to start. And don’t limit your notes to apologies. Leave little notes of praise or ‘sweet nothings’ for your partner to find throughout the day. If your spouse gets overwhelmed with stress at home or work, find a place to put a note when they’ll need a pick me up. Maybe a post it on a diaper for those 3AM changes, in a lunch box or briefcase. Or just a text at an opportune time. Doing those small things can help brighten each other’s days so that there isn’t leftover anger to start an argument.
While you should never have a heated debate in front of your children, I think it’s okay to have calm disagreements. No yelling, no cussing, no name calling or fighting. Letting your children see you respectively disagree and then talk through a compromise can be good. You’re demonstrating that people won’t always agree, but they can still love each other and work out a solution. This is a problem solving skill every child should learn and you can play a huge part in this by giving your children a good guide to follow.
I think it’s important to remember that disagreements will always take place, but they can be used as a base to build stronger relationships and marriages instead of tearing them apart. Loving someone doesn’t mean always agreeing with them. It means loving them enough to want to be with them even when you don’t agree. Strong marriages did not become that way overnight. They took years of work and a commitment to be true and faithful to one another. The good news is that it’s easier to work with someone you like and the rewards of a happy marriage are steep.