Second, avoid getting stuck in a crossfire of disagreements. Concentrate on one issue at a time and evaluate the pros or cons of your spouse’s preference calmly and fairly. Identify one issue that you disagree about, a point of tension that commonly leads to fights. Be specific and avoid being vague and generalizing, as “We can never agree on anything!” For instance, a wife who was a stay-at-home mom for years desires to go back to work, while her husband disagrees with this decision. They have opposite, mutually exclusive goals about handling this situation. They are convinced of their own point of view and prepared to give multiple arguments to justify their preference and dismiss the ones of their mate. What is likely to happen if they begin talking about the issue with no restraint or agreed-upon rules? A crossfire of arguments and an increase in anger likely will result.
Instead, they may agree to discuss this issue on two separate occasions, taking place on different days, picking a time when both are feeling relaxed. They agree to follow the rules: On a first meeting, they only give and discuss the reasons why going to work is a good decision, while on the second meeting, they only express and review the reasons against it. Both times, the spouses record their opinions to create “pro” and “con” lists. Each discussion ends in thirty minutes, after both partners have expressed themselves, by thanking each other, then moving on to doing other things.
These two talks take place one or two days apart from each other and spouses refrain from continuing to talk further about the issue. Next time, this topic is discussed with the counselor. Even though the issue may not be resolved, spouses may be comforted to have their partner on their side, supportive and willing to listen.
Many disagreements stem from our frustrated need for respect and appreciation. Just listening without interrupting, refraining from being contradictory and judgmental, while staying calm and patient are very important steps for partners in learning to get along better. Even though there is no quick way to solve marital issues, these steps can be implemented quickly to soothe the tension and begin healing.