My wife and I recently had a disagreement that almost led to a heated argument. Normally, my only goal is how to win an argument with my wife. This is hard for me, as my wife is ex-military, ex-law enforcement, and a champion martial artist. Let’s just say she doesn’t run away from many fights.
I knew almost immediately we were going to have some serious issues when it came to dealing with conflict. Fortunately, during pre-marital counseling, we established our Rules of Engagement. Basically, these were ‘fighting rules’ to preserve our relationship and protect our marriage.
We each created a list of the things we didn’t want the other person to do if we ever got into an argument. Then we both looked at the list and made a promise to never do any of those things. Here are our list of rules.
For instance, my wife’s had only 4 rules on her list:
- Don’t remind her of her past mistakes.
- Don’t say, “She will never be satisfied.”
- Don’t raise my voice louder than hers just to make a point.
- Don’t press her to respond if she doesn’t want to talk.
When it came to MY rules, I had 4 as well. I had her agree to:
- NOT to say, “I don’t want to argue with you.”
- NOT walk away while I’m talking.
- NEVER tell me to “Shut up.”
- Refrain from name calling or use of foul language.
Then we both agreed to the following:
- We would never mention the word divorce when arguing or even insinuate we shouldn’t be together.
- Don’t negatively compare the other to our ex or parent.
- Stop talking when asked to respectfully listen to the other person.
This was one of the best things we’ve ever done for our marriage. I can’t remember the last time we went to bed angry at each other because we keep the rules.
Always remember, whenever you break the rules, you’re essentially breaking your wife’s heart. It’s not about making our point, winning an argument, or being right; it’s about being right in the relationship with her. If we do that then everyone wins.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What are things you don’t want me to do during an argument?”