Fighting Words: How To Argue Effectively

BY: - 15 Sep '10 | Communication

Share this article!

TNMCoupleArgueCheat

by Aja Dorsey Jackson

There is a good deal of advice about how to get along in a marriage, but far less advice on how to disagree. The reality is that you are never going to agree 100 percent on everything with your spouse so it is inevitable that at some point the two of you will clash. Given that the occasional argument can be expected, wouldn’t it also make sense for us to learn how to disagree? After all, I don’t know of any couple that ever started to have problems because they were getting along. Good times will always be good times, but the true tests of marriage often happen when we fight.

Early on, my husband and I did one of the best things I think we could have done for our marriage; we made rules for our arguments. We realized at some point that every disagreement we had turned into a downward spiral of yelling, not speaking and generally immature behavior. At that point we sat down and talked about what we could do to make our arguments more productive. Here are the main things we agreed upon:

Focus on the issue at hand We try to limit our conversation during an argument to the disagreement that we are having at that moment. For instance, if we are disagreeing about ways to cut back on bills, the conversation that we are having should be about our financial situation right now. Arguing about the time I loaned him money in 2005 or the day that I said something that got on his nerves last week are not allowed to be a part of the argument. If there is an unresolved issue that doesn’t have anything to do with what we are dealing with at that moment we have to talk about it another time.

No hurtful words We have never been ones for name-calling, but I would be lying if I said that we never said things solely for the purpose of hurting each other during an argument. This comes from trying to win the argument rather than working toward a real solution. The problem is that once someone gets hurt, they are far less likely to listen to a concern and much more likely to get defensive or respond with an insult. The goal in mind should be to work toward a resolution that makes us stronger as a couple instead of to tear the other person down.

Reschedule the Argument If things are getting particularly heated we can agree to disagree and stop talking about the issue for the moment. The key to making this successful is that we to set up a future time that we will talk about the issue within the next 24 hours. This gives us a chance to cool down and think about what we want to say to one another without leaving our issues completely unresolved.

We are human, so of course there are occasions where we stray from the list in the heat of an argument, but the guide has helped us keep our arguments from spiraling out of control.

Do you have fighting rules? What are they? If you don’t what would they be?

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and public relations consultant in Baltimore, Maryland. Find out more about her at www.ajadorseyjackson.com or follow her on twitter @ajajackson.


About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 206 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.

Store

like what you're reading?

Start Shopping!

Discussion

Facebook Wordpress

9 WordPress comments on “Fighting Words: How To Argue Effectively

  1. Dianne M Daniels

    Excellent article – fighting fair is critical to keeping love and respect alive in a relationship. Fight dirty enough times, and you will put a crack in your relationship that may never heal. I’m still working on this – focusing on the issue at hand is sometimes difficult for me.

    I also find that sometimes rescheduling the argument is good for letting tempers cool and rationality to make a comeback, but don’t wait too long…ignoring the problem or pushing it aside does not work either…and just because we’re not talking about it doesn’t mean it’s gone away…

  2. Reggie Williams

    GREAT article. You included the most imperative tools for properly negotiating a disagreement. The one thing that I would add, is limited the time for discussing the disagreement. If you can’t solve the issue within that time and often you won’t, schedule a continuance. Dealing with disagreement in small bites is much more effective than trying to solve that issue in a marathon discussion, which usually will go south and I mean deep south.

  3. Chocolate Mom

    Whew! It took five years for my husband and I to figure this out, and of course I’d hate to admit it to him, I’m am grossly at fault for name calling and cursing! I’m still working on that one, but man, it is so hard when that man gets my blood boiling with the going off topic. But we have gotten way, way better. Not to mention the makeups are famously the best part!!

  4. AJ Bell

    I think text arguments can be very productive. It gives both sides the opportunity to express their thought completely (well as many characters as they can squeeze in) and not be interrupted. The majority of the time the other party is going to read the entire text. Plus, you tend to only state basics because you are limited in what you can type. Going back and forth for a while forces both parties to listen.

    The key is to not say things you really don’t mean just to be hurtful, and to remain respectful while disagreeing. I actually prefer to have text arguments because it saves my voice from all the nonsense yelling…lol

  5. AJ Bell

    I think text arguments can be very productive. It gives both sides the opportunity to express their thought completely (well as many characters as they can squeeze in) and not be interrupted. The majority of the time the other party is going to read the entire text. Plus, you tend to only state basics because you are limited in what you can type. Going back and forth for a while forces both parties to listen.

    The key is to not say things you really don’t mean just to be hurtful, and to remain respectful while disagreeing. I actually prefer to have text arguments because it saves my voice from all the nonsense yelling…lol

    1. Gwendolyn

      I agree that sometimes putting it in text/writing can be very helpful. It can give you the chance to put more thought into what you are trying to say to your spouse instead of yelling the first things that come to your mind in the heat of an argument.

  6. AJ Bell

    I think text arguments can be very productive. It gives both sides the opportunity to express their thought completely (well as many characters as they can squeeze in) and not be interrupted. The majority of the time the other party is going to read the entire text. Plus, you tend to only state basics because you are limited in what you can type. Going back and forth for a while forces both parties to listen.

    The key is to not say things you really don’t mean just to be hurtful, and to remain respectful while disagreeing. I actually prefer to have text arguments because it saves my voice from all the nonsense yelling…lol

Leave a Reply

Get
Communication Articles Delivered To Your Inbox Daily! Sign up below!

Sorry, No More Posts Found!