The arguing was intense. Back and forth, tit for tat, louder and louder. I, the counselor, abruptly stood up and excused myself from the room. Thankful to be out of their boxing ring, I stood at the bathroom sink, splashed water on my face and decided that I would go back into the room and say these words: ” This session is over. It is evident that neither of you want what is best for each other or your marriage. There is no hope for you as long as you keep fighting and demanding the other to change in order for you to be happy. When you can clearly look at yourself and die to the ugliness that rises up in you…when you allow that to die…then your marriage stands a chance.” I took a deep breath, returned to my chair and spoke those exact words. There was an awkward silence when I finished. (See their response towards the end of this post)
As long as we are in relationship with anyone, disagreements will occur. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to win an argument; to have their points heard and validated…to be right. And who doesn’t love to do the victory dance after the actual win, even if only in our heads. Yep, we just love it!
I want to share with you how to WIN when disagreeing with your spouse. Every single time. At every conflict. Always.
Listen to your partner.
Listening doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what is being said. It’s an important skill in productive and positive communication. You may be surprised at what you hear. And if not surprised, you will at least hear the heart and opinions of your loved one. And, that matters. Truth is, you will win when you listen.
Be kind always.
You can disagree and still disagree kindly. Words have the power to bring life or death to people and situations. Words said in anger can poison relationships and do a lot of emotional damage. If you lose someones heart, you have lost. Kindness always wins the respect of others.
Say yes when you can.
If you can possibly say yes and concede to your partner, do it. Weigh the importance of what you’re fighting over. Saying yes to your spouse will be a win by gaining a deeper, more intimate relationship.
Control your emotions, actions and behavior.
The focus should never be on controlling your partners emotions, actions and behavior. Win control over your own flesh and you will win more than just an argument.
Treat a disagreement as a discussion.
A disagreement is not a debate where points are scored. It is not a competition and it is not talking someone into your way of thinking. It is positive, respectful communication where relationship should end strengthened. Win every single time when you discuss issues.
Respect the person that you are disagreeing with.
Always. Respecting other people wins integrity and shows great leadership skills.
Be hard on the problem and soft on the person.
In fact, separate the person from the problem. Become a good problem solver. The goal is to work towards a peaceful resolution. Good problem solvers always win
Die to the ugliness of self.
Everyone has it in them…ugliness. Its the nastiness that rises up inside each one of us when we don’t like what we hear and when we demand our way. Your way may even be right. But what rises up in you may not be. The ugliness of self is the opposite of the fruit of the spirit and the list looks like this: fighting, self centeredness, short tempers, pride, sharp tongues, meanness, rude sarcasm, silence and rejection. When you see that in yourself, learn to die to it. Do not let it rule you. When we allow the Holy Spirit to rule us, we win big!
Refuse to argue over opinions.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. When we allow others to have their own opinion, we win. Only God can change a heart and give true perspective. Understanding when to stop an argument takes wisdom. Developing this takes the grace of God, determination, maturity and practice but once we allow the Holy Spirit to masters this in us, we most definitely win.
Disagree until you agree.
Take time to make decisions together and again, if you can possibly give in, give in. If you can compromise, compromise. Remember, there is an answer to every problem. Maybe not one you’d prefer to choose, but a solution nonetheless. There are times when I say to clients, ” you have no great options but you still have options”. Winning happens when we choose patience and wisdom over rash decision making.
Choose peace more than your need to be right, more than your ego and more than your self esteem.
I use this statement a lot. I wish I could give credit to the brilliant person who wrote this but I have no idea who they are. Getting pride and self out of the way is difficult. Most fights don’t start out as fights. Fighting occurs when there is the crazy need to prove and be right, when ego is wounded or puffed up and when you feel as if self esteem is on the line. The problem gets lost and craziness takes over. I understand the importance of making decisions but choosing to handle them maturely and with peace is the biggest win!
In the end of life so many things that people argue about won’t be worth a hill of beans. My very first argument with my new, 21 year old husband, was 35 years ago and over furniture. Stupid, ugly furniture that no longer even exists. I realize that there are times when disagreements are bigger than furniture. But so often they are not. They are over things that just don’t matter.
The couple above had this to say when asked to write a paragraph for this post:
We will never forget that day two years ago. We were presented with truth. The truth of our selfishness. Our marriage motto became “die to self” until it was second nature. Our marriage and communication became sweeter and sweeter and we honestly just stopped fighting. We learned to quickly diffuse any fight by this mindset and we stopped playing the blame game. I cant imagine what our life would be like now if that session hadn’t ended in such honesty. We were faced with a shocking wake up call. It was what we needed to hear and we will be forever thankful. – N & C
I deal with many couples who have been in battle with one another over and over for years. Spouses may win individual battles by yelling the loudest, making a better point in anger, by verbally slamming their spouse and giving it to them good. Yes, they may have won the heated battle but in the end they don’t really win. They end up losing. They lose intimacy, relationship, trust, productive communication and many even lose marriages. All because too many battles were unfairly fought when really, they never had to be fought at all.
So, if you really want to win in an argument with your spouse, you can choose to win. It will take losing battles to win. It will definitely take learning to problem solve with maturity and wisdom. But I can promise, this type of problem solving is a win-win for everyone!
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour, preferring one another;
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