Arguing 101: How to Diffuse a Fight

Marriage Michelle Lindsey February 24, 2015

Arguing 101-how to diffuse a fightHave you ever had a disagreement with your spouse that seemed impossible to resolve?

You know, those times when you are not on the same page, and there is no clear resolution in sight. It’s easy to let things get heated and suddenly a small issue becomes a huge issue. Then you both dig your heels in, and all you end up doing is defending yourself in hopes of being proven “right.”

I personally hate these types of fights.

I always look back on them and wonder how we managed to get so far off track. I usually have to apologize for things said in anger, but words sting long after they are taken back. We have had some ridiculous fights, let me tell you. Sometimes, when I am talking in the middle of a fight, I think to myself, “This is just so stupid, why am I still saying words?”

Recently, we had a tiny issue arise, but it had the potential to turn into a large argument. I could feel it getting ready to go that direction. I tried to choose my words carefully but my emotions were getting the best of me. And then there is that little thing called pride, which causes us to want to win, no matter what. It’s a recipe for disaster because we both become defensive. During our recent disagreement, I am pretty sure I was the only one starting to defend my feelings, thoughts, ideas, you name it. I just really wanted him to  try to understand how I felt, and acknowledge my viewpoint.

Get this . . . HE DID.

And then I had nothing more to say. It was the oddest feeling. It really took me off guard.

I think my husband must be maturing into a Godly, patient man because he turned the whole conversation around with one swift move. He told me he would defer to my comfort level in the situation and leave it at that. He said he wasn’t upset, it was no big deal, and then he dropped it. He didn’t act mad or bring it up again. (Imagine my wide eyes at this point.)

In that moment, I felt so grateful.

Not because I got my way, but because he was willing to empathize with me. I knew he had my back and cared about how I was feeling. Having your feelings constantly overlooked is not good, and over time can wreak havoc on your well being. Feeling protected and nurtured makes you want to protect and nurture as well. It’s the exact opposite of a vicious circle! I wanted to better see his side of things once he showed me true concern.

Compassion and kindness go a long way in the middle of a disagreement. I guess this isn’t a new discovery. It’s a biblical truth that has seen many people through times of distress:

“A soft answer turns away wrath,  but a harsh word stirs up anger.” —Proverbs 15:1

Soft answers really work.

Imagine that. People have a difficult time resisting kindness, no matter how upset they are. When someone says, “Okay, I can understand why you feel that way and we will work through it,” you tend to calm yourself down. Dousing the fire with water is much wiser than pouring on the gasoline, because otherwise you’ll both get burned regardless of who started it. 

It’s difficult to stop in the middle of a fight and say loving things, but if you can manage it, it usually helps all parties involved. I was surprised how quickly our disagreement ended that day. I thought to myself, “Wow, we are really figuring this marriage thing out!” 

Sure we are in our twenty-fourth year, but whatever. Better late than never.