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What To Do When You Keep Having the Same Arguments in Your Marriage

  • Kia Stephens
What To Do When You Keep Having the Same Arguments in Your Marriage

It began as a misunderstanding. He was tired. You were too. Then an exchange of words ensued. You hurt his ego. He hurt your feelings and in the midst of this heated disagreement something felt eerily familiar. It wasn’t the first time you uttered that phrase. You heard him say those exact words in your last argument. Somehow it seemed as if you had had this conversation before.

Although the exchanges began for different reasons, they all ended up at the same place: landing somewhere between unhealed hurts and unresolved conflict. Thus, you found yourself unintentionally having the same marital battle again. Have you been there? Are you there now?

The idea of marriage God presented in Genesis 2:24 illustrates a beautiful depiction of the intimacy between a man and a woman. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This is the desired ideal many of us swooned over as young girls. We wanted the happily ever after fairytale. For some of us, however, once we said “I do,” we ended up exchanging our desired ideal for an unwanted reality, forcing us to realize “becoming one” takes work.

This is not to say that what God designed for marriage is unattainable. It is; however, getting there will require more than wishful thinking, especially if we find ourselves habitually having the same argument.

If this is the case, the question becomes how can we reverse this toxic cycle in marriage? How can we end negative habits of communication and replace them with behaviors that will propel our marriages forward? If you are asking these and other questions, read below for a few of the lessons I’ve learned that have helped me to develop healthier communication in marriage.

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1. Pray About What Should Not Be Communicated

1. Pray About What Should Not Be Communicated

In a heated argument it is difficult to listen first and speak second, but this is exactly what we are encouraged to do in James 1:19. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Instead of heeding the apostles James’ instruction many of us tend to do the exact opposite. We are quick to speak and become angry and slow to listen.

This type of behavior is reactive. By reacting we will always be subject to the next hurtful statement. In being reactive, we in turn give the power to control our own behavior to our spouse.

However, a proactive response decides beforehand how to respond in arguments. This stance resolves to listen first, assess the situation and then respond. Being proactive considers each person and ask appropriate questions.

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"...we can make a conscious decision to choose to respond differently."

"...we can make a conscious decision to choose to respond differently."

  • Is either one of us hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT)?
  • How might this be impacting our communication?
  • What are my strengths and weakness?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of my spouse?
  • Have I triggered my spouse in any way?
  • Has he triggered me?

By taking these questions into consideration before we speak, we can make a conscious decision to choose to respond differently. In saying that, sometimes the best response is no response at all. There have been many times in my almost 15-year marriage when I have opted for silence. In these moments I intentionally allowed God to speak on my behalf; and he did.

If this is a struggle for you, ask the Holy Spirit, who is described as our helper in John 16:7, to empower you to be slow to speak and quick to listen. This behavior alone will help you to in your communication with your spouse.

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2. Discuss Your Formative Years

2. Discuss Your Formative Years

In their book, “How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage,” Milan and Kay Yerkovich, introduce a new term called a love style. The love style is based on how we were comforted in our youth. In their book, they explain how our early experiences with comfort can impact our present-day relationships.

In my life I have found this to be true. As a child of divorced parents who spent little to no time with my father growing up, I was left with a love style that believed the person you love leaves. Early on this deposited a fear of abandonment in my heart that I packed up and brought into marriage. As a result, I was fearful, for many years, that my husband might abandon me.

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"This core belief greatly impacted my communication."

"This core belief greatly impacted my communication."

This core belief greatly impacted my communication. It has taken years for me to unpack all the ways this love style has affected my beliefs about myself and my spouse. If you find yourself having the same argument, it could be that you are acting out of an unhealed traumatic experience from your childhood.

Thankfully, when the Bible tells us that we are a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 this includes our communication. God has the power to help us unlearn and replace detrimental patterns of communication if we allow Him to heal us. If you think this may be the case, ask God to lead you to your next step. It could be a book you need to read, counseling sessions, or an honest conversation with your spouse about your childhood. 

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3. Study Yourself and Your Spouse

3. Study Yourself and Your Spouse

It’s amazing how the process of becoming one doesn’t come with an end date. This is because this process is ongoing. We are constantly learning something new about our spouse. And as we learn more about our spouse, we begin to behave differently, hopefully for the better.

We may discover the best time to have a deep conversation with our spouse is not during Sunday night football. We may discover that we need alone time before resolving conflict.

Getting to know ourselves and our spouse may require us to take a personality test. We may need to discover our love languages, as Gary Chapman suggest in his book, “The 5 Love Languages.” The more we know about our spouse and ourselves the better we will be able to develop new and healthier ways of communicating with each other.

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"A commitment to study our spouse is a demonstration of our love towards them."

"A commitment to study our spouse is a demonstration of our love towards them."

A commitment to study our spouse is a demonstration of our love towards them. Instead of forming assumptions about why our spouse behaves a certain way, we can choose to learn the whys behind their behavior. This will help us to be patient with them just as God is patient with us.

Ephesians 4: 2 -3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Whatever the case may be, know that learning more about yourself and your spouse can help you to communicate differently during arguments in marriage.

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4. Choose Humility Even When You Are Right

4. Choose Humility Even When You Are Right

As human beings we are conditioned to look out for our best interest, always. We want to know whether the situations we are involved in are fair and just. This includes arguments with our spouses.

Sometimes we find ourselves fighting more about our rights than the actual issue.  We get hung up on getting even, having the last word, and giving the other person a nice piece of our mind. When we find ourselves having a disagreement with our spouse it is beneficial to examine the life and behavior of Christ. 

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"...it actually takes tremendous strength to exercise restraint..."

"...it actually takes tremendous strength to exercise restraint..."

In examining Jesus’ last days on earth, we see He was treated unfairly.  Isaiah 53: 7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Although Christ had every right and reason to speak he chose not to. He exercised tremendous restraint when dealing with mankind. This does not mean that we allow our spouses to treat us in an unkind or unfair way, but it does mean we can choose when, how, where, and if we are going to respond in an argument. 

Although this may look like a weakness, it actually takes tremendous strength to exercise restraint in times of disagreements with our spouse. In opting to choose humility we invite God to intervene in our behalf. 

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God is Able

God is Able

By implementing the suggestions above we are choosing not to rely on our own understanding but to acknowledge God as it says in Proverbs 3: 5 - 6. In trusting God, we can wait with confidence, knowing that he is able to rewrite the script in our marriage. When we feel like we keep trekking around the same mountain and having the same arguments, God can rewrite the story by changing us and our spouse.

Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. For more encouragement download Kia's free ebooks, Hope for the Woman With Father Wounds and Forgiveness Hacks: 5 Strategies to Help You Forgive. Additionally, you can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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