10 Things You Don’t Say To Your Mate When Arguing

I’ve had plenty of arguments over the years.  Some of these I’ve used.  Some I haven’t.  Usually, however, if I did, the fight got worse.  Sure, I may have felt temporary pleasure over that “zinger”, but did it really serve me over the long run of the argument?  Not really.  Amazing, isn’t it?  The people we care about most in the world are the ones we let loose the rampaging rabid dogs of war the quickest.

Top 10 Things Not to Say:

  1. “Whatever.  I’m done.”
  2. “You obviously don’t understand.”
  3. “If you loved me, you’d know…”
  4. “I don’t care.”
  5. “It’s not my fault if…”
  6. “You always…”
  7. “I hate you.”
  8. “I never wanted…”
  9. “You’re such a…”
  10. “Shut up.”

It’s pretty clear why these don’t work, but – for the uninitiated – things like sentences that start with “You always…” are impossible to defend against.  Because they’re not true.  Obviously no one always does something.  If that were the case, they’d be doing it all day long, 365 days a year.  About the only thing you can accuse someone of always doing is breathing.

This gem is reserved for spouses and boyfriends.  The “If you loved me you’d know…” comment presumes mind-reading.  And if there’s one thing a man is not equipped to do when it comes to women, it’s reading her mind.  Believe it or not, ladies, we don’t think alike!  You know how you go out with your girlfriends and you finish each other’s sentences, and there’s all that, “I know, right??” that goes on?  It’s because we think alike.  We see things in relatively the same way.  We are built emotionally in-sync.

Men, however, are not built like us.  This is why when we whine and complain they want to “fix it” and we get irritated.  Our girlfriends don’t tell us what to do, they just listen, commiserate, and offer up another bowl of Ben and Jerry’s.  We’re hardwired differently.  Maybe some guys really want to “talk it out” and get all deep in the emotions and really gab, for hours and hours, about what’s bothering them, but most guys just want to say what’s on their mind, fix it, and move on.

Guys want us to respect them.  Love is easy for us.  Respect is hard.  Respecting a man means not embarrassing/criticizing him in front of his friends or family, not making him feel “less”, not attacking him for something he didn’t know he did, not assuming you know what he is thinking or feeling (lack of mind-reading goes both ways), not presuming his intentions, not talking to him like you’d talk to your girlfriends – he doesn’t think like they do.

Women like to marinate.  Men like to flash fry.

Here is something we should remember:  Productive arguments have conclusions, not concussions.

Top Ten Things To Say:  (and mean)

  1. “I’m sorry.”
  2. “Let me just see if I understand you right…”
  3. “I admit that I…”
  4. “Thank you.”
  5. “Do you forgive me?”
  6. “Can we take a minute?  I’m getting upset and I want to figure out why.”
  7. “I’ll be quiet and listen so you can make your point uninterrupted.”
  8. “I love you.”
  9. “I didn’t realize I’d done that.  What I’d meant was…”
  10. “I forgive you.”

Oh, words.  They’re so easy and cheap.  That’s why I put the “(and mean)” in there.   When we were younger, my sister would smack me and immediately say, “Sorry.”  Then she’d smack me again.  Again, another “Sorry.”   The word is meaningless if you don’t follow up on it with action and that usually means not doing the same thing you were sorry for over and over again.

As a woman, my particular brand of live ammunition is – you guessed it – words.  I can mire myself down so deep in the details of what my husband has said that, by the end, I’ve utterly tied him up in knots.  I’ve “wordsmithed” him into feeling frustrated and helpless.  That’s like having a debate with someone and having them throw in ridiculous curve-balls like “define logical”.

So as you gear up for that next round, consider this:

  1. Would you say that to your grandmother?
  2. How would you feel if the other person said that to you?
  3. Do you really mean that?
  4. Is this the most important person in your world?  Why are you treating them less than you would a co-worker, girlfriend, Starbucks employee?
  5. What is your goal in this argument?  Winning?  Understanding?  Compromise?
  6. Words are permanent.  People remember things long after the “I’m sorrys” have been said.
  7. Accepting responsibility and asking for forgiveness is strength, not weakness.
  8. Admitting mistakes is difficult, necessary, and builds wisdom.
  9. Love may conquer all, but it is not just a verb, it’s an action, too.
  10. Conflict is inevitable.  Choosing our response to it is 100% all us.

Ideally, the best thing to do is to recognize that you’re getting miffed, define it (what is really agitating you about what that person said or did?), own it, and articulate it.  If you can sort things out before the yelling starts, then you just saved yourself some grief.

I know, words are easy.

Love and Respect

 If I combine the years of marriage from my first and second marriage, the number is roughly 16.  And before that, I was dating from the time I was 15.  So, let’s do the math and tack on another 7.  Okay, so I’ve been in one “relationship” or another for approximately 23 years of my life.  That’s over half, people.

Now for the sad part. 

I never truly understood what it meant to be in a positive relationship.  Truth be told, I was carrying around some pretty serious baggage.  Let’s see if I can recount some of the previous ideas I had on dating / marriage:

  • If it feels good, do it
  • It’s fine as long as no people or animals get hurt
  • Only stay as long as it’s fun and easy
  • If the passion fades, it’s time to move on
  • If he truly knew or loved me, he’d know what I’m thinking
  • If I don’t show how much he’s hurt me, I win  (Ice Queen Syndrome)
  • Never lose your cool  (Ice Queen Syndrome, Part II)
  • Win the argument even if wrong, don’t accept responsibility for mistakes
  • My position is the one that matters
  • If he’s willing to be intimate with me that means he cares about me
  • If I can’t talk to him then I shouldn’t be with him
  • It’s not my fault I can’t say what’s bothering me, it’s from my past
  • My past is why I can’t …
  • My past is why I don’t …
  • My past is why he should …
  • Men will let me down
  • Men can’t be trusted
  • I will just keep this inside so his feelings don’t get hurt
  • My relationship should work, even if I don’t put any real energy into it
  • Love fades
  • If I’m not “in love” with him, I shouldn’t be with him
  • Love is an emotion not a verb
  • Can’t he see what I’ve done for him?
  • If a guy likes that kind of person, I’ll be that kind of person (even though it’s not who I am)  because I want him to like me

Admittedly, none of these philosophies has ever served me very well and I’ll tell you why.  My entire focal point was one of two things: 

  1. Everything is about me (or)
  2. Everything is about him.  

You can’t have a decent relationship with someone when they’re choking the life out of you, or you’re choking the life out of them.   There’s no room for growth and there’s definitely no room for effective communication.

Ah, that dreaded word:  communication.

It really is something you have to work at and, I’ll be brutally honest here,  I hate that.  I have always believed that if you’re meant to be with someone then communication should be easy.  Well, it’s not.  Really and truly it isn’t.  And there is a reason for it. 

Here’s the reason:

Men and women think, feel, and see the world very differently!

The Love and Respect Class I took at my church, combined with attending church on a regular basis, has really helped me pinpoint all the ridiculous notions I had about life, love and relationships and to learn some incredibly valuable (yet obvious!!!) lessons on making a marriage work.  Actually, this information isn’t just helpful for a spouse, it’s helpful for a male cousin, nephew, uncle, grandfather, etc.   Men need certain things from women when it comes to communication so this is helpful all over the place.

Before you sniff your nose up at the whole “church” and “God” aspect of things, hear me out.    There is a DVD set out there that you can watch in the privacy of your own home that will teach you about how to talk to your spouse, how to understand why your spouse does what he/she does, and how you can better communicate with them.  AND…it’ll give you the very real realization that your marriage isn’t doomed or lame when everyone else’s is great.  We all struggle with our mates, we were built to have conflict.  It is what it is.  But conflict is an opportunity to grow and to grow closer (believe it or not).

So, take a look at the video below for a real quick introduction to Dr. Eggerichs.



By the way, I didn’t even go looking for this class, this website, or this video.  My husband discovered it.  Women are usually the communicators, the talkers, the fixers and I managed to drop even that ball.  This series utterly changed the way I look at relationships and showed me just how far I had fallen as a mate because my ideals and expectations were completely unattainable and unrealistic.

If you want to see more, go to the Love and Respect website.  In particular, check out the Media section because that’s where Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs is videotaped live at his conference.  He doesn’t preach at you, he tells stories about his own life, he makes you laugh, and – above all – he makes you go, “Ohhhh!  I get it!”

If I could buy a copy of the DVD series for every single married friend (male or female) that I have and send it to them, I would.  I don’t normally jump up and down and scream, “You have to see this!”.   Hey, I don’t even like chain emails, but this is one series, I strongly recommend.  Did I mention strongly? 

Definitely, check it out.



Disclaimer:  The commentary above is free insight into my strange and humbling past relationship-world.  I don’t get a single red cent for the purchase of Love and Respect DVDs, the classes, or the conferences.   It just so happens that I am so passionate about this information that I’m willing to talk about it with unashamed excitement so that everyone who reads will learn some very valuable lessons, just like I have.