Argue ar·gue / ˈärɡyo͞o
verb – “to give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.”
Is there a way to argue well? You may be thinking, “Wait. Couples are not supposed to argue. After all, isn’t everyday in marriage like an episode of The Bachelor, with helicopter rides, dinner on the beach, and your partner swooning over every word you say?” Unfortunately, reality TV is far from reality because in real life there are real couples that have very real arguments. In fact, couples who say they don’t argue typically fall into one of three categories:
However, for those couples who are willing to tell the truth and admit they argue, who are willing to work on growing in communication as a couple, and who care enough about their marriage not to fall into the trap of becoming roommates, there is a way to turn your disagreements into blessings. Here are five ways for couples to argue well:
One of the worst feelings in the world is not caring enough to communicate your frustrations, letdowns, and needs. Couples who don’t care enough to argue are probably getting close to giving-up. Some of the most difficult statements to hear your spouse say is, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Do whatever you want. You just do your thing, and I’ll do my thing.” At this point, unless something changes, you can be sure the end is near. Caring means you want to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue. We’re going to talk, disagree, but also make the necessary changes and sacrifices … because we love each other enough to work it out.
Having victory in an argument is listening to the needs, worries, and frustrations of your spouse and learning how to serve one another better. There are times when you can win a debate and still lose in the long run. Too often we’ll sacrifice the health of our relationship to get in the “last word.” Relationships are about learning, not winning. However, when a disagreement takes place with healthy and mature communication, then sacrificial changes are made to show one another beautiful unconditional love. That is true winning.
A good argument is not one person doing all the talking while the other person is doing all the listening. That is called a lecture. Arguing well is one person talking while the other listens without interrupting. Then, it becomes time for the talker to become the listener without interrupting. Also, being a good talker is communicating with kindness, self-control, and humility. Being a good listener is truly concentrating on what the other person is saying and not being distracted by thinking about your “comeback.” It is truly contemplating what they’re saying and not making it an opportunity to bring up their shortcomings from the past. For example: Sally says, “Bob, what you did today really hurt my feelings.” Bob retorts, “Oh really? What about that thing you did to me six weeks ago that really upset me, but I never told you about it?” (Because I’m a guy, and I don’t communicate … ever … ever … ever.)
If you’re continuing to argue about the same things, then it means that one or both of you are not listening or learning. It’s been said, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” For continual growth, there has to be an unchanging effort to continually change to the needs of our spouse. When disagreements come, we must communicate, listen, and make the necessary changes.
Christian marriage is not about us as individuals or even as a couple, but it is actually about something much bigger than us. According to Ephesians 5, marriage is the visual illustration God has given the world to show Christ’s relationship to his bride (the Church). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Our marriage is actually preaching a Gospel message to the world; that truth alone makes marriage eternally important. It’s necessary for us to ask ourselves this question often, “What kind of message is our marriage preaching to our children, our church, our family, our friends, and a watching world?” (This particular point is also referred to in one of our previous articles called, “10 Things that We’ve Learned In 10 Years of Marriage“.)
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:5-6
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