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Arguer Or DiscusserDuring a recent browsing session on Facebook, one Internet meme jumped to my attention: “Discussion is always better than Argument because Argument is to find who is right and Discussion is to find what is right.”

How handy these words would have come in several years ago when my first marriage was falling apart at the seams! While I can’t complain — my ex cheated on me with a person she met at church, and I’ve since met and married the most amazing person with whom I’m now expecting a child — you can bet that these words to live by will be making an appearance in future disagreements.

Argument: The Steam That Unglues A Marriage

While Argument will never be cited as the reason couples decide to file for divorce, it cannot be discounted as a major contributing factor. Most of the big problems that eventually tear a marriage asunder start as small, petty arguments borne from the need to be right.

Both parties can be guilty of this, even if the ultimate blame for the divorce forms lies with one individual. If marriage is the envelope that holds two people together, Argument is the glue that unsticks the adhesive and yanks the contents out of the package.

Argument Prevention

So how do you stop arguments from happening? And if they do happen, how can you guide the conflict back into the realms of Discussion? We suggest the following tips:

  • When you feel anger entering into the disagreement, step back and acknowledge that it’s happening. Then, calmly tell your spouse that you need a break from the talk to clear your head, but that you do not intend to walk away from the conversation — that you are committed to coming back and working through the discussion when your emotions have had a chance to simmer.
  • If you feel yourself making a lot of “you need to do this/you need to do that” statements, it’s time to pull back and ask yourself what you really want from the disagreement. Do you just want to be right, or do you simply want your spouse to hear where you’re coming from? If you just want to be heard, then realize that’s what they want as well, and that you both deserve the same courtesy. Now you’re in a position where you’re thinking less about self and more about resolution.
  • Do not argue in front of the children. Be committed to putting the kids to bed and going somewhere where they can’t hear you before reconvening the discussion. This can give you a natural buffer in which emotions have a chance to dissipate before the disagreement is discussed.

If both parties commit to these recommendations, then there is a much smaller chance of seeing divorce papers in your future. Best of luck as you work through your differences!

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