THE BLOG
10/28/2013 08:27 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2013

What I've Learned From Fighting With My Husband

The first two years of marriage are a tricky time for most couples. The high of the wedding is over and real life sets in. You both go back to work (or don't... whatever your thing is) and do chores. There are so many firsts and so much to adjust to. In our first year and a half of marriage we had more than our share of arguments, and none of them were pretty. Over time, here is what I learned about fighting in marriage.

Assume positive intent.

Sometimes my husband says things that hurt me. He manages to push buttons I didn't even realize I have. I know two things about him. One, he doesn't have my flair for words. And two, he would never intentionally say something to hurt me. You have to listen to his heart and not his words. If I can't find the intent behind what he's saying, I have to ask him calmly to elaborate. There have been several big arguments that could have been avoided if I had just asked a question without getting in my feelings right away.

Pick your battles.

There are things that I do that drive my husband nuts. If God gave him a chance to change three things about me I don't think it would take him long to come up with his list. That being said, not all of my quirks are worth a discussion. And vice versa. I have to ask myself before I address something, "How big a deal is this?" If I realize it isn't a big deal, I give him a pass. If he leaves his socks on the couch, it's easier for me to put them away. If you bring up every little thing it turns into nagging. By the time something serious happens, he can't hear the big thing because it comes across as just another thing.

Think before you speak.

You cannot take your words back once they're out. You don't want to say anything that is demoralizing or demeaning. Remember you vowed to love, honor, and respect your husband. And if your words don't reflect love, honor, or respect then you need to not use them. There are things that my husband has said to me in the heat of an argument years ago that still sting me to this day when I think about them. When your conversation is over you want to both leave feeling valued and whole.

Pick your time.

Right when he comes in from work isn't the best time to discuss an issue. Neither is when he's hungry or tired or had a bad day. It is wise to try to wait for optimal conditions. You should also not approach a discussion at the height of your anger. I know that it normally takes me a day or two to get past my anger enough to be able to talk to him without potentially snapping at him.

Remember what you want to accomplish.

Sometimes in a discussion you want an apology, sometimes a change in behavior, and sometimes both. No matter what you want, your ultimate goal is to be happier and still married. When I tell him what's bothering me, I need to be clear about what happened, how it made me feel, and what I would like to have happen.

Stay on topic.

There have been times where we have started off on one thing and veered off on so many tangents that neither of us can remember what we started off talking about. When I see that we're starting to get off track, I say, "That is an issue and we'll talk about that too but I want to resolve this first."

Keep it brief.

For the first year and a half of our marriage we would have these marathon discussions where we went off on tangent after tangent and discussed every little issue we had with one another. Three or four hours later we would be physically exhausted and mentally drained. Eventually we realized that none of that was necessary! If we stick to the point and don't talk about it for more than 15 minutes, we can normally both walk away feeling good and understanding each other.

Be prepared to walk away.

Communication breaks down sometimes. Sometimes I can't get my words to convey what I'm thinking and we get frustrated. I'm frustrated because he doesn't get it and he's frustrated because I'm not making any sense. In order to keep things from getting too intense, one of us has to walk away from this conversation, gather our thoughts, and come back to it.

You may have to agree to disagree.

One big mistake I made in the beginning was expecting my husband to agree with me. It is so unlikely for him to agree with me on a lot of things, especially things regarding my feelings. I'm a woman and he can't relate to my thought processes and my experiences. So to expect him to agree with me at the end of the discussion is a tall order. The goal should not be to win him over to my side but rather to get him to understand where I'm coming from.

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