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Tips for Married Life: The Proper Attitude Toward Arguments

A disagreement can be utilized as a tool to reinforce marital harmony

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When the first argument crops up between a couple, both become alarmed and feel pressured, and sometimes, even shocked and bewildered. We’re fighting? Can it be that I have reached the stage where I exchange angry words with the person supposed to be closest to me?

But one can use the disagreement, be it the first or one later on, as a tool to reinforce marital harmony.

It is an opportunity to recognize and learn what is so important to the spouse that s/he is willing to argue about it. It is an opportunity to make a switch in how to act towards your spouse so as to avoid stepping on toes or landmines that caused that argument.

Envision cars traveling on a highway, some passing others without engaging in conversation or either one paying any attention to the other. Under which circumstances will they notice one another? If one car happens to scratch the other, the drivers will pull over to the side of the road, exchange names and phone numbers, and talk. What brought them to this exchange of words? A collision.

A piece of good advice, especially during the first year of marriage, when both sides are tense and have begun arguing, is for the wife to wait until she is alone, perhaps at work or somewhere outside the house, and review exactly what happened.

She should say to herself, “This argument is pointless. If this issue was bothering my husband so much, I apparently wasn’t aware of how important it was to him. If that’s the case, I have to try harder in that area so as not to provoke another conflict. I must try to avoid hurting him and focus on making him happy.”

At that point, if he asks to speak with her about what happened, she should accept his offer. But if hours go by and he still hasn’t brought it up, she should call him on the phone and say — calmly, softly, and apologetically — “I thought about what happened and I think I didn’t realize how important this issue was to you. I want to apologize for the way I reacted. I would be very happy if you wanted to sit together and work out a way to deal with this in the future, so we’ll be prepared in advance if it comes up again.”

Such an overture already serves to ignite a spark of hope in the man’s heart, as he, too, has no interest in arguing and is also upset about what happened. He will surely agree to her proposal, and his mood will already have taken a turn for the better as he goes about his business the rest of the day.

When they meet up again at the end of the day, there may still be some tension in the air. A warm smile and a nice greeting will quickly lighten the mood. If they have decided to talk about what happened, they should settle themselves in a nice quiet place, and they should talk. A relaxed conversation in a serene setting — mature discussion accompanied by a mild apology for the argument and a promise to try harder to avoid reaching the point of disagreement — can actually transform the crisis into a platform for strengthening their loving bond.

One other important detail: towards the end of the evening, she should turn to him and say: “I have a request to make. It’s important to me to know how you would like me to respond to you in a similar future situation, when something bothers you.” A candid reply will enlighten the wife for their entire married life, but certainly during the first year of marriage.

This is the time to discuss their contrasting natures, to analyze and understand what happened and formulate constructive conclusions in dealing with the issue effectively in the future.

Adapted from 'Happily Married - The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' For Women, by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Click Here to Buy Now