The Other Problems
When you and your wife have a disagreement, argument, or outright fight there’s not one problem, there are three.
- There is whatever the issue is – what the fight is about.
- There is her reaction to the issue and to the fight.
- There is your reaction to the issue and the fight.
All too often a couple gets so lost in the last two they never deal with the real issue. They argue about her yelling or his withdrawing. She takes offence at how he responded, or he takes offence at what she must think of him to say such a thing. Even if they get past all of that, which is unlikely, they have not dealt with the real issue. This results in the same problem coming up repeatedly.
If you want to break this cycle, you need to agree to this goal when you aren’t arguing. A good way to bring it up by blaming both of you – say “we” rather than “you”. Tell her you would like to be able to deal with the problems instead of getting stuck in details of how either of you reacts or feels.
The next trick is to stop going down the wrong path during an argument. A great way to do this is to agree to a signal either of you can use to indicate you think the discussion has gone off track. For example, cover your mouth with your hand. When this happens, stop for a moment so you can each reflect before getting back to the real issue.
If feelings or bad reactions are a problem they need to be addressed, but at another time.