Let’s face it—if you’ve been married long enough, you’re bound to argue with your wife about something. And it doesn’t matter how big or how small the disagreement is. It’s not a question of if, or even when, but how you choose to argue that can prevent a molehill of a disagreement from turning into a Mount Everest of an argument.
1. Hit her hot buttons.
The reason little disagreements with our wives easily escalate into full-blown arguments is we both know how to hit each other’s hot buttons. These are buttons that usually trigger a negative emotion. And we know what they are because we know our wives’ secrets, struggles, and scars. To push her buttons is like “hitting below the belt” in boxing, and in boxing, it’s illegal. So the last thing a man should do in an argument with his wife is sucker punch her by touching on her fears, doubts, insecurities, father wounds, or trauma from past relationships.
2. Involve the innocent.
One of the easiest mistakes we can make in an argument with our wives is to involve innocent bystanders. This means you should resist the urge to tell the people closest to you, especially your parents (or siblings), about the argument—at least until you’ve had some time to cool down.
This is important, because if you let your emotions get the best of you and you accidentally tarnish your wife’s reputation, the people you tell may not be as willing or ready to forgive your wife as you are. When we run to the people we love, their first reactions, typically, are to protect and defend us, not to protect our wives’ reputations. Remember, that’s our job.
3. Share it with immature friends.
The only thing worse than jeopardizing your wife’s reputation by telling innocent bystanders about your argument is sharing your argument with immature friends. And when I say “immature,” I’m not talking about age. I’m talking about friends (especially other women) who don’t have your wife’s best interest at heart.
My rule of thumb after any argument with my wife is only to share our conflict with people who are part of the solution and who will fight for our marriage as if it were their own. Also, being careful and discerning about who you share your arguments with also can prevent unnecessary arguments in the future.
4. Raise the dead.
When you’re in the middle of a heated argument with your wife, resist the urge to drag an old issue into your present discussion. Yes, I know she may do it to you, but like Gandhi once said, “Taking an eye for an eye will leave both people blind.” In other words, two wrongs won’t ever make your relationship right.
Bringing up past issues from past arguments potentially can trigger emotional wounds in your wife that may not have fully healed. This is especially true if she’s still feeling the guilt and shame of a past mistake. Instead, try to keep the current issue the main issue and let the past issue rest in peace.
5. Sit and save.
One way to avoid bringing up past issues in an argument is to avoid sitting on the issue and saving it for later. Men who are conflict avoiders or “people pleasers” usually struggle with this the most. Ignoring, wishing, and hoping an issue with your wife conveniently goes away is a recipe for a relationship disaster.Fight for your relationship, not with each other.
Avoiding tough conversations only will lead to escalated arguments because of the tendency to stockpile anger, bitterness, and frustration toward your wife. So instead, wisely confront the issue early, because if you don’t, that proverbial elephant in the room potentially could turn into a lion and devour the both of you.
Arguments, disagreements, and conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but they don’t ever have to destroy your marriage. So, fight for your relationship, not with each other.
Sound off: What other pitfalls should we avoid in arguments with our wives?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When you get into an argument with someone, what are some things to avoid?”