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How to Argue


No one wants to argue with his or her spouse. But arguments are part of marriage. In fact, fighting is actually a healthy part of any relationship, as long as you know how to do it correctly. Learning the ropes of arguing is not easy. It's not about one-upping your spouse or getting the last word. Healthy arguing is about understanding what your spouse is saying to you and really listening to each other. You might not resolve all your arguments; actually, you might have already realized that you constantly fight about the same things and that will probably be true for the rest of your marriage. But you will be able to communicate better with one another and fight in a way that leaves less wounds. Here are some helpful tips on how to argue from experts, who have written books on the subject:

"Not arguing is just as destructive as arguing. Research shows that husbands and wives who do not argue when dating or during the early years of marriage will end up divorce." -Sharon Morris May, author of How to Argue So Your Spouse Will Listen (Thomas Nelson, Sept. 2007)

"We are not each other's enemy. I know we don't agree on some things, but I really do love and care for you. We have got to find a way to get our points across without hurting each other so much. -Mike, husband of author Morris May

"Here's what undivided attention communicates, 'You are the most important person in my life. I want to hear what you are thinking and feeling because I value our relationship. On the other hand, here's what listening while doing something else communicates, 'You are one of my many interests. Please continue to talk; I'm listening.' Distracted listeners are often surprised when their spouse stops talking, walk out of the room, goes to the bedroom, and starts crying. Empathetic listening requires that you give your spouse your undivided attention." -Gary Chapman, author of Everybody Wins: the Chapman Guide to Solving Conflicts without Arguing (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., December 2006)

"When we're in pain, we first need our experience validated before we can be interested in hearing ways to fix or solve the situation. That's just how human beings are. Yet, once your partner feels you've really heard him (by acknowledging his experience), he'll probably be very open to hearing whatever you'd like to say." -Jonathan Robinson, author of Communication Miracles for Couples' Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict (Conari Press, May 2009)

"Appreciation is different than acknowledgement. I define appreciation as the art of telling your partner what you like about him or her. To get in touch with what you appreciate, you can simply ask yourself, 'What do I like or appreciate about my partner?' By focusing on that question and occasionally expressing your answers to your sweetheart, it will help to keep her self-esteem bank balance in abundance. In addition, when difficulties arise between the two of you, expressing an appreciation can help your partner let go of blaming you or being defensive. After all, as her balance goes up, she will become more able to listen to you." -Jonathan Robinson, author of Communication Miracles for Couples' Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict (Conari Press, May 2009)

"Getting married and going from 'me' to 'we' does not automatically eliminate those differences between partners. In fact, an individual's own preferences also change from year to year, so it follows that two people will continue to develop new differences as time goes on. That means that if you want a happy marriage that's built to last, you're going to need to know how to negotiate and communicate about a wide variety of differences." -Laurie Puhn, author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationships without Blowing Up or Giving In (Rodale Books, October 2010)

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