July 9, 2008

Understanding Fightin' Styles

Simply settling an argument can often become a source of even more tension in marriage. People are so different that even the way we deal with conflict can be very different, and if there isn't a mutual understanding of this fact in marriage, both sides can get pretty frustrated.

Some people need to settle an argument before they do anything else; they cannot continue normal daily activity until everything has been dealt with. Others, however, really need time to process their thoughts and feelings before they can sit down and talk about what happened. Usually this ends with the one who needs instant closure "bullying" the other into talking, creating more and more tension that wouldn't have been there in the first place, and in the end nothing gets resolved. Is this sounding familiar to anyone?

The key to making it through these roadblocks is — brace yourselves — communication. Talking about what you need during these times is the only way to meet in the middle and deal with the problem at hand.

If you are someone who needs to talk about the problem right away, but you know that your wife needs time to herself to think, scheduling a time to come back and discuss the problem is a big help. By having a scheduled time to come back and talk (an hour, let's say) gives the more reserved spouse time to think, but it comes with a time limit so that the other knows that "soon, we will talk about this."

Not scheduling a time in the near future will only bring grief. If you force your wife to talk when she's not ready, she will get angry and won't be able to express her thoughts because she hasn't had time to figure out what they are yet. At the same time, however, if you need time to think and your wife wants to talk right away, not having a set time to come back together can drive a person crazy; it is an unending sentence of silence that only serves to blow the issue out of proportion through means of imagination.

So the next time a issue like this comes up, express what you need in a loving way. Say something like, "I really need to talk about this soon, so could we sit down and do this in a couple hours?" Or, "I really need a few minutes to think, so can we sit down and talk about this in thirty minutes?"

Communication like this is magic in marriage. Trust me.


  1. I think this is the most important aspect of the communication within a marriage. Being able to stop talking about when things are going bad and coming back to it later is so difficult for men. We want to tackle it and solve it right away so no hard feelings will linger. Us men have to realize that women simply are not wired like this. Great post!!!!

  2. Okay, it's the exact opposite for me. I need time and my girlfriend often needs to talk about something right away. Her mind never stops turning things over while she's awake, and sometimes when she's sleeping, so it's often her who needs to speak about things right away.

    I need time to order my thoughts.

    It's a good thing that she knows I need time, but I think I take too much sometimes. It goes both ways...

  3. I had such a hard time deciding if I should just pigeon-hole the guys and say they are the ones that like to talk about it all the time, but I decided to allow for differences.

    Kevin, your comment made me wish that I had gone and done that, and John Alan Jack's comment made me thankful that I didn't. :o)

    Glad to get your input guys!

  4. I was excited to find your site, as I have recently started a blog that might interest you and your readers: heavenlyhubbies.com

    About resolving conflicts, my husband and I have to "duke it out" right away..and we both have the types of personalities where neither of us want to back down from our perspective until the other person admits that we're right...and waves a white flag. However a couple argues, I think the important thing is that you don't end the day with the issue unresolved, as much as possible (not letting "the sun go down on your wrath"). This is something my hubby is great at. No matter how intense our argument was, he doesn't want to turn the lights out until we're both feeling okay about our relationship. I write about this on www.heavenlyhubbies.com (Peacemaker).

  5. Our fighting style is not to fight. We don't agree on everything, but neither of us wants to win an argument, and how can you fight if you're trying not to win?

    But if something is bothering me, I decide if I can drop it (it's always my internal issue, anyway -- she's never trying to hurt me). If I can, it's done. If not, I tell her as soon as I can, because it blocks me from being present with her.

  6. Communication is key!
    Even better, make-up sex! (hey, I'm a guy)