According to Abraham Lincoln, “marriage is not paradise and it is not hell, it is a purgatory.” This may well describe marriage relationships. Of course, when we get married, we are hoping to find paradise. It is like a great promise looming up over our relationships before the marriage.
However, after getting married, some people start feeling as if instead of paradise they’ve gone straight to hell. Relationships start breaking up, ideals fall, promises get broken. Why do such things happen? Because two different, imperfect and unique people, with different backgrounds, expectations, hopes, personalities and ideas enter marriage, start living together and begin sharing their lives with each other. Conflict and misunderstanding will be inevitable.
As arguments become an inalienable part of relationships in the couple, things can change for the better if you can only start viewing your arguments and marriage as some form of purgatory, and not as being in hell. The book of Proverbs in the Bible says, “that as the iron sharpens the iron, so one person sharpens another.” Marriage can and will make us better, if we only allow it.
If we are only able to stop viewing what our spouses have to say to us as nagging and really listen to them, we would see ourselves from a new perspective and find more space and opportunities for growth. Andre Maurois said that “a happy marriage is a construction, which has to be rebuilt all over again every time.”
This means, there is no hell or paradise in marriage, at least not permanent ones. It is not a concourse of circumstances, but the results of our efforts, mistakes, successes and hard work or laziness. It is about us being human beings, with all our faults and virtues. Arguments in marriage can destroy it, if you let it happen. Or, they can become an instrument you can use for building up your relationship and making it stronger.
However, there are certain rules to follow. These two simple rules may help you to go through controlled arguments, which would help build up your relationships.
Rule number one is to keep your conversations on the “I” perspective. Do not say: you are wrong, you hurt me, you’ve forgotten…
Instead, say: I feel hurt because of this, I feel upset over… I feel uncomfortable with… etc. When you do not carry the war to your opponents’ ground, you leave a place for peace, understanding, compromise and reconciliation. You do not blame your husband or wife, you simply express your feelings and thoughts on the matter.
Rule number two is to listen. Do not interrupt, trying to answer or defend yourself right away and cutting them off before they could finish what it is they are trying to express. Men and women are wired differently, so what may seem ridiculous to you might be something that makes sense to them. You may be in a middle of an argument, but if you could maintain respect during the course of it then the likelihood of resolving it becomes much better.
An ancient Greek philosopher Democritus said that enmity is a heavy burden, but to argue with your kin is even a heavier one. We cannot eliminate arguments from our married life, but we certainly can make them useful and not painful for our dear ones.
The key to surviving marital arguments is not about what you are arguing about, but how you both argue. By learning how to deal with, and resolve marital conflicts and arguments to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, your marriage will only become much stronger.