Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to Fight

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It's a shame Daniel and I learned this stuff just a few years ago, and not even all at once.  It was a process.  We found that sadly, there were times we just did not have a lot of respect for each other, and I think it still happens where the amount of respect we have for each other is less than our wish to get our point across.

Arguments happen with any two people who are around each other long enough.  I love Daniel very, very much.  That said, right now he is on Workers Compensation with a hurt foot.  He has been home for a month and will continue to be home for another month.  We sometimes get on each others nerves.  Can I get a witness?   I do love it when he is home, because it's kinda like a little vacation.  We play a lot of games together and watch a lot of movies.  However, as I've said, we do get on each others nerves every now and again.
Typically, we have an argument that escalates into what I'd call a full blown fight where voices get raised to decibels only rivaled by IMAX about once a year.  Sure we have little disagreements and whatnot in between, but those I wouldn't necessarily call a fight.  I'm not talking about working each others nerves.  I'm talking about finding that last nerve of your spouses and tying it into a knot before jumping up and down on it with both feet.

Let me say here, before I get into anything else, that Daniel does not touch me during a fight.  I don't get hit, he does not throw things at me, and I am not at risk of being physically harmed.  If one or the other of you is not in control of your body and tend to physically hurt the other, then I would suggest some sort of counseling.  I am not a counselor.  I am not going to be able to fix a marriage such as this.  I know that the Bible says you are yoked together til death; it does not say you have to live with this person.  I don't condone divorce.  That said, I also know that we are only human and you can only take so much.  I will divulge here that I, myself, have an ex-husband who neglected my basic needs and tore me down every single day and multiple times a day.  I lived in constant fear and suffered severely.  Is it in God's plan to divorce a man such as my ex-husband?  No.  Once you are married, whether it is the man God has for you or not, you aren't to get a divorce.  Once more, I also don't tell people they are horrible people for having gotten out of a bad situation and moved on with their life.  My basic stance on divorce is it's a sin, but I'm not into being holier than thou because I'm just not perfect.  I have an ex-husband because I was being abused.  A sin, yes.  But I am human and the action I took is between God and I.

Alright, so let's look at what Daniel and I have learned about arguments with each other.

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Early Warning Signs
You probably know when it's going to be a big one.  You might even feel it coming days ahead of time.  You know because half-jokes get made and semi-cutting things are said.  You know because you are starting to get a little more frustrated with his idiosyncrasies.  You know because he is starting to become more demanding of you and the children.

When you know it's coming, take some time and try to change your attitude.  Now is not the time to talk to him about changing his if you can help it, because that might trigger that big argument and you are not in the right frame of mind.  Assess how you feel, and see if you truly respect your husband at the moment.  I'm not talking about love.  I'm talking about that respect you have for role models, or a really good boss, or Christ himself.

During this volatile time, love your husband and do it using actions and with a good heart.   Perhaps you are still going to have that big blow up, but maybe if your heart is in the right place it won't be as nasty as it would have.

The Storm
At the onset of the fight try to maintain respect.  Really listen to what he has to say and reflect as much as you can on it in the moment.  Men are not generally very good at explaining their feelings, and he may say some things that he kinda means, but he might need some time to get it exactly right.  This is unfortunate, for usually it might take him a couple of hours and for that couple of hours you might be fighting.  Ask exactly what it is that is upsetting him, wait for him to get it ALL out without cutting him off.  Then tell him what is upsetting you and try to make it in two sentences or less.  You only want the real problem, not the spin offs.  I would suggest the two of you say what you have to say, then just leave it and go do something else far away from each other for 2-3 hours or longer.  Just impart to each other that you have heard each others stance on the issue and you will give it some thought.  Tell each other you love each other, and go do something else.  While you are away from each other, think about the situation from the others point of view and try not to think of how you feel really at all.  This can take an hour or longer til you can reach that point, if at all.  Just try.  He has real reasons for being upset and it might not be just that he is having a bad day and is taking it out on you.  Think about the why.

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There are some things you shouldn't do in an argument.  Such as, don't cut him off when he is speaking, and I mean at all.  It's disrespectful.  Just make mental notes and address what you need to when it is your turn to speak.  It's sad, but we need to relegate ourselves to a kindergarten mentality during a fight.  Everyone gets a turn, and you can't take each others turn away.  Everyone deserves to be heard.  It may take him a half hour or longer to convey his point.  He may vent for a while before he gets to the meat of the problem.  Let him vent and be quiet.  Just concentrate on respecting him, even if he is disrespecting you.  We will get to the spin offs later.  You want him to come to what exactly is upsetting him.  When it is your turn, you might need a couple of hours to process the information before you can intelligently speak on it.  I typically do.  I won't know how I feel about what he said til much later.  Unfortunately, you probably aren't going to be able to get away with taking a shower or going to the store right now.  If he is okay with giving you some time, it would be best.  Otherwise, just do the best you can.  Don't bring up anything other than what is the meat of the argument, even if he's disrespected you during what he had to say.  If he says things in a hurtful way, bring that up in a few days.  Right now just address the main issue.  Keep taking turns and taking breaks until you come to the end of it.  If you keep going, the two of you will all of a sudden get an "aha!" moment where you actually see where the other is coming from, and realize why the other is so angry.

Once you reach that point, don't go into "fix-it" mode.  Only tell him in your own terms your understanding.  Explain what you think he is feeling and that is all.  See if you are right.  If not, the argument will continue.

The argument is not going to end until the two of you a) understand what it is the fight is truly about and b) come to some kind of understanding and solution.  You are stuck in that house with each other until there is some kind of resolution.  Understand?  This needs to be dealt with and today.  Do not go to bed until there is some understanding, resolution, and you aren't angry anymore.  Otherwise, it's going to raise it's ugly head again, and it will get worse.  By worse I mean this:  The meat of the issue might become obscured.  There will be resentments.  Resentment is an awful thing to live with.  "Don't go to bed angry."  Stay up however long you need to.  Make coffee and deal with it.  Tomorrow will suck, yes...but it will be worse if this isn't taken care of.

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 The End of the Storm
Once the argument is over, give it a couple of days and address the spin offs if you feel you can.  If not, wait a little longer.  If he cut you off during the fight, just explain that you don't like to be cut off in the middle of what you are saying.  It makes you feel as if what you have to say is insignificant and unimportant to him.  Daniel and I make it a high priority that we don't ever cut each other off.  We are sensitive to it now, and when we catch ourselves doing it, we stop whatever it is we were saying right then and there and apologize and let the other person continue to speak.  It took practice for us to even get to this point because we were pretty bad about it.  It took one day for one of us to say, "When you cut me off, it makes me feel like you think what I have to say is unimportant.  I don't like feeling unimportant to you."

Arguments are never fun.  They happen though.  In a perfect world, everyone would know exactly how they feel and why.  They would be able to explain their thought process and in a calm, rational, and respectful manner.  This is ideal, but sadly it almost never happens.

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What Couples Fight About
One argument couples have has to do with sex.  Sometimes it is that the wife always has the proverbial headache.  (If this is the case, get back in the routine of having sex.  Women enjoy it just as much as men and if you aren't, it might be because you aren't actually having sex very often.)  Sometimes it is that the husband is proverbially too tired.  As wives we need to understand that men get older.  Sometimes they will really, really want to have sex with you, but are unable.  This can make a wife feel like she isn't attractive anymore to her husband.  You may feel fat and ugly and wish you looked like...well, pick an actress or model...and you are hurt and angry, but be careful not to lash out.  If you are an older couple, he may have problems getting and/or maintaining an erection.  To give this some perspective, you might have problems producing enough lubrication if any at all.  You're problem is easier fixed than is his.  Just have some grace and mercy.  Perhaps have a conversation telling him you just don't feel as beautiful to him as you used to and don't mention sex at all.  Tell him you want him to show you more that he still not only loves you but finds you beautiful as well.  Do it in a way that isn't mean.  Say something like, "You know, I really miss when you used to pinch my bootie every day."  Then leave it at that.  It can help if you are also a little more flirtatious and playful.  Don't get upset if he doesn't respond immediately and in the way that you'd like.  Give it time.  Keep being playful and flirtatious and maybe once a month say what it is you miss and be sure it has nothing to do with sex.

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Another argument couples have stems from cleanliness.  If you are a slob, try to start keeping a clean house.  I'd suggest you look at the "Cleaning" section of this blog.  If he is a slob, well, you can only hen peck so much.  He is who he is, and you married him for better or for worse.  A hen pecked husband is a sorry sight.  Try to have some grace and mercy in this area.  Just pick up after him and consider it blessing him.  Give him the gift of a clean house.  If he seems unappreciative, don't say, "You know, I work really hard to keep this house clean and I feel so unappreciated.  I'm not a maid!"  You can get your point across without starting an argument.  Understand that he is who he is and try to love him by giving him the gift of a clean house and with a sweet disposition.

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A fight can also be triggered by either the wife or husband having a bad memory.  A wife can exaggerate events painting herself in the nicer light, and her husband can have a completely different recollection.  The subject might be a past fight for example.  Forgive his bad memory, and try to remember yours isn't perfect either.  You could very well have convinced yourself of a false truth.  In the end, does it really matter?  Can you let it go?

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Here's one that I'm sure you can relate to:  Cooking and Cleaning.  I used to have problems with letting Daniel help me.  I admit it.  He would get in the kitchen and I would get palpitations.  "Is he going to go through my more expensive spices?  Will the kitchen be a disaster that I will have to clean up later?"  Just let him help.  Let him do it his way, even if you think it's wrong.  Sometimes wives have a hard time letting their husbands bless them.  Let him do for you, or he's never going to get good at it.  Daniel does really well in the kitchen now, and I have to say I'm grateful he was persevering.  If he had given up, I would never get a meal cooked for me or any help with the house whatsoever.  On the flip side, if your husband never cooks or cleans, well it is your job anyway.  Perhaps your husband blesses you in different ways.  Be thankful for the ways he does bless you.

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Another trigger can be the blame game.  This typically will happen in the midst of a heated discussion.  It can also happen when something gets broken or when something goes wrong.  It's very easy to be agitated at a broken computer, and then blame whoever was on it last.  Yeah, maybe they broke it.  We all break stuff, so let it go.  If he is blaming you, just admit your blame and ask that he have some mercy.  Don't bring up what he's broken.  That isn't the issue.  It may feel like it is, but it isn't.  Don't start going down that road of, "You broke such and such just last week and I didn't say anything."  Just admit, yeah you made a mistake.  You are sorry and will try to correct it.  Try not to get too up in arms.  Later you can ask him why he was so angry.  It might be a separate issue that needs dealt with (argued about, lol).

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Blame can also be on oneself.  If you are constantly inwardly blaming yourself til you feel rotten because you think you deserve no better, I think you need to understand just how beautiful you are.  People were made "a little below the angels".  You are not a mistake.  You don't always do everything wrong.  And now I see a post is needed on this, because I have been there.  So, I'll let this one go at that til I can address this by itself.

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If you never argued at all before kids, you will once you have kids.  Mothers have a tendency to...well...mother.  Fathers have a tendency to teach strength.  Both can get a little out of hand.  On this subject you need to sit down and have a series of conversations.  The first one being the long-term goals you have in the raising up of your children.  The upcoming conversations need to revolve around short-term goals and how those need to be accomplished.  After that, when things come up, don't argue in front of the children.  Let's say your daughter doesn't feel well.  You've told her she can go relax.  Your husband comes home and tells her to do her homework.  Don't contradict him right that moment.  That will breed disrespect.  Your children will learn not to respect their father, and you might also.  Pull him aside when you can and explain that she's sick and probably is going to miss school tomorrow anyway.  If he still feels she should do her homework, then there will be an argument and you may find the homework isn't the issue.  Perhaps he's been noticing that any time your daughter needs to do dishes or something she "doesn't feel well".  Communication is key in any family and it's vital for the two of you to talk.  Perhaps the issue is the two of you need to talk more, for then you would have found out a week ago that your daughter was having some issues with responsibility.

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Money can start tempers boiling as well.  This is a really sensitive topic.  Husbands are supposed to be the bread winner, and the wife is supposed to bake the bread.  What happens when there isn't enough money to go around?  Firstly, I'd suggest you read the posts I made in the $$Money$$ section of this blog in the sidebar.  Have some grace and mercy.  Keep a peaceful home as much as you can.  Beware that other arguments may start that have nothing to do with money, because someone is really starting to feel the pinch.

Arguments can also happen when it comes time to spend that hard earned money.  This can be avoided if you have a sound budget and stick to it.  I am not my husbands boss.  What I mean by this is, how would I feel if he came home and barked on about a messy house?  I'm not going to bark at him because there isn't enough money.  I also wrote an article about his very thing. Click here for an article on submission.

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Relatives are another source of contention for couples.  Maybe you are dealing with a son whose mother has yet to cut the apron strings.  Perhaps you have the same argument every year about where you will spend the holidays.  I am of the opinion that the only person that matters to you is your spouse.  If your dad can't seem to respect your husband, are on your husbands side.  Even if you can see where your dad is coming from, think about where your husband is coming from.  Even if your husband is in the wrong, he doesn't need disrespected by the members of your family.  Yes, it is a wiser man's responsibility to teach a younger man, but there is a difference between teaching and showing lack of respect.

In Closing
In all of these arguments keep in mind what I said about how to argue.  Respect your husband, really listen to what he says, then take time to reflect on his emotions and point of view.  Regroup and explain to each other what you've discovered.  Keep doing this until the argument is over.

Also, if he says something like, "I hate it when we're in public and you treat me like a child."  Don't counter with, "Just yesterday we were at my mom's house and you told me to keep my mouth shut."  One thing has nothing to do with the other.  Even if he is accusing you of doing something he often does himself...resolve his issue first for that is why you are arguing in the first place.  Address your issue another day if it is bothers you that bad.

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  1. You are such a good writer! Thank you for all this work.:)

    The words speaking to me at the moment are - "Show Grace and Mercy." Thank you for writing them. I'm going to have them whirling in my head and I'll try more often in various situations to Show Grace and Mercy. So many people need this from us but how vital and important that our beloved husbands are a priority to be on the receiving end of our compassion.

    I think you would like the blog Always Learning written by Lori Alexander. If you don't know it, you can type Always Learning Blog into Google Search or lorialexander.blogspot. With all your writing though, you probably don't get much time to read other blogs. :)

    Thanks again!

  2. As always your words are such a joy and encouragement to me. You always know of such good blogs to read. You can bet I will definitely stop by that one. Sometimes I have most of the day to read and write. Sometimes I don't have times to even power on the laptop. Lately, I've had a great deal of time which is nice. Thank you for always telling me what you think and for encouraging me so much.

  3. Oh how I needed right to read this today! I had quite the pity party going on for myself last night. I homeschool and Thurs. is my lesson planning night. I was planning late and all I could see around me was my husband and kids relaxing while I was still working and I felt sorry for myself. I ended up picking at people and being not so nice to everyone. I really need to apologize when they wake up because I caused my home to not be peaceful. I truly love homeschooling and acted like I was being inconvenienced by the blessing of it. Not very becoming! Thank you for this post!

    1. Homeschooling can be extremely tough. You do work longer hours because you are not just responsible for clothing, feeding, and cleaning but you are responsible for their education. Working a housewife's hours can be bad enough, but throw in a teacher's hours and you get less down time than anyone else in the house. I have been there watching everyone else do whatever it is they want to do while I'm still working hard and it seems so unfair. Your strength is a blessing to me and I learn just as much from you. It's so hard to change frame of mind and apologize. Thank you!