So you want to win an argument with your husband.
And you’ll do whatever it takes to get the outcome you want.
When I was in college, I did just that.. (we’ll circle back to marriage, I promise.)
My assortment of for-the-win tools included a fight. Challenging a classmate to a physical fight, to be exact.
I can’t remember what he said that got me upset but I recall swinging a kick. Our classmates, bless their hearts, jumped in and held us back.
Restrained and embarrassed, I remember looking at my classmate’s face and seeing a mixture of amusement and surprise. And a bit of smirk.
Perhaps amused that a small-framed girl would dare challenge him. Maybe surprised by the swift kick to his very sensitive man areas. Smirking because he could have knocked me down flat in one second.
It wasn’t the outcome or feeling I had hoped for.
That bright Kenyan morning was not the high-point of my college life (or general reasoning.)
But it does illustrate how couples approach disagreements in marriage.
A mate says or does something the other doesn’t like or agree with. Opinions fly. Anger is stocked. Restrains fall off. One spouse walks away feeling like a loser. The other saunters away feeling like the winner.
And the relationship loses.
What if there was a better way to navigate conflict and arguments in marriage?
Let’s talk about that.
Next time you sense disagreement brewing, or you have a strongly-felt opinion, different from your spouse, ask yourself these three questions to help navigate your differences in a healthy way.
How to win an argument with your husband
Also known as, how to make sure the relationship wins.
1. Where am I located?
A lot of arguments in marriage are centered on “self” and the desire to be right.
It’s not wrong to have a healthy opinion. But we need to put that opinion in a better perspective. Even when we think we are right, we still don’t know the heart of our spouse because we are not our spouse.
Our opinion is only one part of the puzzle. The other piece is with our spouse. When we believe we have the entire set, we short-circuit the whole conversation, and no wonder everything blows up.
So right from the start, you want to get honest about your real motives. If all you want is to prove your spouse wrong, figure out that part first.
2. What is the real issue here?
After we get honest, we need to ask, “What is the real issue here?”
A few years ago, my husband struggled with my emotion-driven approach to conflict. He is a logical and pragmatic kind of guy. And he gets even more rational when there’s a disagreement.
I, on the other hand, get more sensitive and passionate when I am feeling unheard. We had plenty of conflict in those days and logic vs. emotion became the giant we could not slay.
We’d be all twisted up for days and weeks at a time, unable to even talk to each other.
The one day, my husband got a revelation, courtesy of his logical dissection of issues and a lot of Jesus. He began to wonder whether dealing with the issue behind my weepy, critical, and angry symptoms wouldn’t be the answer for ending the said symptoms.
He loved (still loves) fixing things and enjoying his peace so he decided to give it a try.
And miraculously, doing dishes seemed to cure my disappointment and emotions—finally, a working solution. It was much better than defending his contributions to the relationship.
He took the same approach to our other issues, and I did my own growing, and slowly, over time, we put our relationship back to its feet.
It was incredibly hard to overlook the symptoms – my judgment and moods and how he felt like a failure. But he sensed we could either spend the rest of our lives debating about the symptoms or healing a wound, which would cure the symptoms.
Years of broken communication and working with women in difficult marriages led me to create a brand new conflict navigation course, which is opening for enrollment in September. (Update: Now Available >> Click Here to Watch) The online course is for the wife or husband who wants to have healthy communication in marriage but is frustrated by a spouse’s disconnect and a general lack of communication skills. Watch Now.
When you disagree with your spouse, one of the best things you can do is to focus on the issue hiding behind the symptoms.
For example, if he tends to raise his voice when he’s upset and instead of focusing on how it makes you feel as the only incentive for him to change, take a step further.
Where is he coming from? Is he from a loud family? Is he using his tone to control you and get his way? Investing your energy into solving the real issue (because yelling is his problem, not yours), will help navigate the problem in a healthier way.
3. What can I do to make sure the relationship wins?
What would happen if we decided that making sure our spouse feels heard was just as important as feeling heard? What if nurturing connection was more important than having the final word?
What if we walked into heated moments asking, “What is the best way to address that real issue without alienating my spouse?”
Taking on that approach would mean stripping ourselves of certain permissions and stacking up some new responsibility.
We’d strip permissions such as “I have a right to let him know what I think right now.” Then we’ll stack up responsibility such as “I need to do what needs to be done to help the relationship (not “self”) win.”
An example of what to do when a disagreement is brewing.
You might take time to cool off before answering so you can process what you just heard. You strip yourself of permission to speak off the top off your head or in anger.
Further, you take on the responsibility to dissect, pray, pick up a helpful resource to think of the best way to approach the issue of contention.
Easy says, “Oh I’ll tell you what I think. In fact, I’ll dish it out exactly the way you deserve it.”
Responsible says, “My words are not going to help this guy or our situation right now. I need to calm down and chew on things before I open my mouth.”
How to win an argument with your husband does not mean you (or he) will always walk away from a disagreement feeling like a winner.
Not at all. It implies you do everything within your power to create a healthy environment for conversation and connection. That’s how the relationship wins in conflict, when we make “us” the # 1 priority.
In marriage, it doesn’t even matter “who started it.” In fact, a healthy communication is rarely about the two people in the marriage, walking away from conflict, feeling like someone won.
Healthy conflict resolution is always about making sure the relationship succeeds.
Yes, there are times when we’ll catch hurt feelings: human beings = messy and imperfect. Further, there’ll be times when prioritizing connection will mean prioritizing the people’s health and well-being in the marriage.
The essentials? To focus on connection and overall health over the right to be right.
I am excited to jump into the nuts and bolts of healthy communication in marriage in my upcoming online course How To Navigate Conflict in Marriage. (Update: Now Available >> Watch Now) I’ll show you what you need to do to become a connection-savvy spouse so you can break down those communication barriers and begin to enjoy your marriage again! WATCH NOW