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How to Fight With Your Spouse

Updated on December 19, 2016
KeikoBell profile image

Keiko and her husband have been through a lot together. But because of their dedication to each other, they are still newlyweds years later

Fighting can be good

Fighting with your spouse can be a good thing. If you fight right, end on good terms, then you can come out the other side a stronger couple. When one person has a valid issue with the other, things need to be said.

Couples who do not fight are either the same person with no conflict, or they are not truly a couple. When a fight does occur, there are some ways to ensure that it does not end badly and that you come out the other side a stronger couple.

Because men and women think differently

Why do couples fight

Everything starts with the why - why are you fighting? When two people decide to spend their lives together there will be disagreements. Mainly because men and women think differently in relationships.

How men think in relationships

When a man goes throughout his day, his mind is on one thing, the task at hand. So, when his wife gets upset about a hot mug that he microwaved to make her the hot chocolate she asked for, he thinks she is upset about the mug. He gets the urge to throw away the stupid mug because it is the cause of the fight. All he sees is that she is yelling at him about a mug, a stupid insignificant mug that can easily go away.

How women think in relationships

A woman bundles everything together. Everything that has happened throughout the day takes part in how she perceives an event. So, when her husband hands her a mug that is so hot from the microwave she cannot pick it up, and she knows that by the time the mug is cool enough to drink from, the hot chocolate would be lukewarm at best, she explodes. The fact that she was shoveling snow all morning while her husband tinkered with a snow blower that was obviously not going to work anytime soon replays in her head. She is cold and all she wants is a warm mug of hot chocolate to heat her up from the inside out. The memories of all the times that he has needed her help with things that he should be able to do on his own come to mind. She is done. The anger swells inside of her and she lashes out. Why can’t he do anything for her? Why couldn’t he help her instead of insisting that he needed to fix that stupid snow blower right now. Doesn’t he see that he can’t change the oil in the snow blower without her help because he is still recovering from knee surgery, but he could help her shovel snow so she won’t be so tired and could help him with the snow blower without feeling like collapsing? And after all that, he can’t make her a simple hot chocolate without messing it up? Can she rely on him for anything?

The art of fighting

When you are in a fight there are some things to keep in mind. It is easy to get swept away in the heat of the moment. But take a deep breath, remember that you love this other person and that you want to find a resolution so you can go back to the happy times.

1. Never Pre-Fight

This means, don’t stay silent except in your head. Don’t fight with your spouse in your head and not let them know what's going on in real life. This applies to anyone you are mad at, spouse or not. This is a sure-fire way to get angrier and to make the explosion that is going to happen bigger. If you are mad about something, let them know in the calmest way you can. In your mind, you may believe that they must know what they have done, but that is not always the case.

2. Create a safe space.

No matter how right you think you are, let the other person speak. Nothing will get resolved if you are they only one talking. Give them time to express their side and do not interrupt them. If you do not give them the chance to say what they are thinking, they may never feel like they can or have the right to say how they are feeling. This may create resentment and disconnect between the two of you. Over time this could have a negative impact on the quality of your marriage.

3. Never Leave.

No matter how strong the urge is to leave, or throw them out, don’t. Go into a different room if you must, just never get into the car and drive away. This shows that when things get bad, you are not afraid to give up. When one side believes that the other is willing to give up on you and the marriage, this creates a place where the other will put up walls. Consciously or not, if they believe that you could leave at any moment, they will start to shut you out to protect themselves. Once the walls go up, it’s difficult to break them down again, to shorten the space between you and get unity again.


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Choose unity

4. Recognize that you may not be right.

After you have explained your side, listen to theirs and realize that it is just as valid as yours. See what they are saying from their side and explain how their actions made you feel. When the man has tunnel vision, all he sees is that the snow blower isn't working. She can say, well, that is fine, get tunnel vision all you want. But when it is a situation where you are going to need my help, consider me. Consider my day and what I have gone through and ask me when a good time would be for me to help. That way you are both heard. The woman understands that he was in man mode, but the man understands that it would be good to see her not as a help-bot, but as a person who should be respected enough to be asked.

5. Forgive each other.

During a fight, things may be said on both ends that are not the nicest. Forgive the other for saying something mean, and forgive yourself as well. Don’t hold anything in the past against them. If they have apologized, move on. Bringing the old into the new is a sure-fire way that nothing will ever get resolved. This also creates a bigger and larger fight then needed. Focus on the issue at hand and once it’s done, let it stay done.

6. End with understanding

Once you have cleared the air and both sides see and understand how the other person felt, decide and identify what could have been better. Both parties should take responsibility for their part in the fight and come away with areas that they can improve on. She can decide that she needs to be better at pointing out how he is making her feel at the time, not letting it bottle up and explode over a cup of hot chocolate. He can recognize that he needs to be better at snapping out of tunnel vision and ask her if he needs to help, and to realize that his timeline may not be hers, and that’s okay.

Not Everyone Loves The Same

Knowing that you are loved is one thing, but recognizing different forms of love is another. How you show love may be different than how your significant other does. Sometimes it's hard to see that when he washes the dishes it is him saying "I love you". Reading this book can help you understand your significant other and how they may be showing you how much they love you and you just can't see it.

It also is a good way for you to tell him or her what you need in order to feel loved. This can clear up a lot of miscommunication throughout your marriage and can lead to a happier less dramatic life together.

Bedtime should be a happy time

7. Never go to bed angry.

This one is huge. Make sure that you resolve any issues before getting into bed. If you are mad or upset about something, let them know. If you go to bed in the middle of a fight, or without telling the other person you are upset, this will drag things out. If a fight drags on for days or weeks, it is no longer a fight, it is a battle. The longer it goes on, the harder it will become to get resolved. The snow ball effect is huge here, don’t let things get out of control because you may not get it back.

8. Pick your battles.

No one wants to be nagged all the time. When something comes up, assess the situation and think about if this is a big deal? Or is it something stupid that you can let go? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Either say something and work it out, or let it go. Don’t ever hold on to something that you have decided you would let go just to throw it in their face later when you get mad for something else.

9. Remember - It takes two to tango.

Not only does it take two to tango, it takes two to fight, two to make up. Make sure that you are doing everything in your part to end the fight on good terms. You are as much to blame for the fight as the other person, even if you are the one that feels slighted, mistreated or disrespected. And if you are the one accused of slighting, mistreating or disrespecting, realize that even if you did not mean it that way, they saw it that way. If they feel that way, then it is real. You can either fight with them insisting that you did not do that, or recognize that maybe you could have done something better and then try to do better next time.

10. You cannot control the other person.

The other person in your marriage is not under your control. It is up to them to change the way they are. All you can do is work on yourself. Do not demand that the other person change. You can let them know how them not trying to change their behavior makes you feel and hope that they decide to change themselves. If you spend all your time and energy on trying to make the other person change, you are wasting your time. You married this person, warts and all, remember that. Remember that you have warts yourself, and they still love you.

Do you fight well?

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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 11 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is a great article. I appreciate the pointers, and the quiz at the end.

      Well done. Thanks for writing.


    • KeikoBell profile image

      Keiko 11 months ago from Wyoming

      So true dashingscorpio.

      A good marriage starts with who you choose. If you are both clear on your intentions and dreams, then you will know how you stand with each other.

      "Anger is the Mask that Hurt wears." - I tell my husband all the time that when I get angry at him, more times than not it's because I am hurt. And I try to remember that when he seems upset as well.

      If you think of the other person first, making sure you aren't becoming a door mat, then you can be calmer and more caring than if you don't.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 11 months ago

      Very sound advice!

      People often say relationships are "hard work". However I'm a true believer that the so called "hard work" is in finding the right mate for oneself!

      The goal is to find someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship that you do, naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things, and last but not least have a mutual depth of love and desire for one another. Compatibility trumps compromise!

      Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!

      This doesn't mean you're going to agree on "everything" just the major things. As one author once wrote: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!"

      The main reason why couples fight is because one of them feels slighted, disrespected, taken for granted, or felt no consideration from their mate.

      "Anger is the Mask that Hurt wears."

      If you remember this the next time your mate gets upset with you it makes it easier to get down to the root of the problem.

      Find out how your actions or words (hurt) them?

      Generally speaking if someone is "in love" with you or you with them then causing them pain was "unintentional". Then listen & reassure them.

      There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships: We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them (as is) or move on.

      This goes to #8 Pick your battles!