Arguments – escalate, or don’t

In any disagreement, argument, or outright fight, you have two basic choices – you can do something that makes it worse, or you can do something that makes it better. You can escalate the issue, or you can attempt to do the opposite. In my experience, all the things that come naturally tend to escalate the situation to one degree or another.

  • Attacking her back when you feel attacked makes you feels good, but it also escalates the situation and decreases the chances of resolving things.
  • Being defensive or trying to shift blame may be natural and maybe even correct in theory, but both tend to make the other person more upset.
  • Excuses don’t help. Even if her frustration allows her to hear you, she does not want an excuse, she wants to deal with the issue.
  • Defending yourself is a natural reaction, but it closes you to dealing with the issue, and she will react by closing herself.
  • Turing it back on her, making it her fault, or widening the fight to cover issues where you feel you have a better chance of winning is trying to put out a fire by throwing petrol on it.
  • Promises are of little value – unless you have a very solid track record of doing what you promise, doing it quickly, and sticking to it. Promises of change are often an attempt to end the argument rather than solving it. Promises made to end an argument promises are usually promises we can’t or won’t keep.
  • Even trying to calm her can escalate things – she will likely feel manipulated or belittled. If she’s angry, don’t try to remove the anger – deal with what is causing the anger.

Sometimes escalating works short term – she may get so mad she walks off and leaves you in peace. However, that’s not a long-term win for the marriage. The other, much darker, “winning move” of escalation is the man who learns to push his bride’s buttons so that she becomes hysterical. Then he feels justified in ignoring her. This is deeply destructive, and if you are doing this, you should either seek help with it or prepare to be alone in the future.

Bottom line – the best way to work something out is not making it worse in the process.

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