August 5, 2008

I have seen it over and over again; a husband and wife that obviously love one another but they just aren't getting along. No, that's an understatement. They are flat out arguing and fighting with one another. In fact, they don't seem to be able to carry on a simple conversation without the heavy artillery coming out. The next thing you know tempers are flaring, voices are being raised, doors are being slammed and both individuals are left wondering… What happened?

There are a few key reasons why husbands and wives argue that are common in most marriages. Of course, most people could name the "things" that couples argue about, with finances usually at the top of the list, followed almost directly by sex, children and household responsibilities. But, these are the "things" that they argue about and not the reason that they argue.

The number one reason why husbands and wives argue is because there has been a breakdown in communication. Well, this is obvious, right? Perhaps. But, let's take a closer look at exactly how this communication breakdown takes place and what can be done about it.
Expectations are the anticipated behaviors husbands and wives hope to see from their spouse. These generally include a predetermined condition or result. Examples of this type of thinking include:

"If my husband loved me he would pay all of the bills, clean the house and polish my nails."

"If my wife loved me she would have sex in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening."

Unfortunately, expectations are all too often unrealistic. One of my favorite sayings, that my wife taught me by the way, is "Expectations are premeditated resentments." And this is absolutely true when we have unrealistic expectations of our spouses.

So, how do we avoid the problems that arise from having unrealistic expectations of our spouses? Well, the answer is quite simple… Get Real! We have to remember that our partners are only human, they make mistakes, they are going to let us down at times. Allowing them to be human is not only a huge relief to them, but to us also, as we learn to practice patience, mercy and forgiveness.


When I have tested couples values I have discovered that the areas of least similarity are usually the areas in which they argue the most. For example, the husband values football games. The wife values conversation. These contradictory values will bring contention into their relationship until either one of these individuals changes their values or until both can learn to compromise.

What kinds of values are important in the relationship? Here is a brief list of just some:












It is important for couples to identify and understand the values of their partners. When couples are willing to respect and validate one another's values arguments may be minimized.


Have you ever noticed that when a couple is new in their relationship that they use constant terms of endearment towards one another? Honey, Love, Sugar, Baby, Handsome, Beautiful, etc. Unfortunately, over time individuals have a tendency to misuse the words that once meant so much. This often occurs subtly at first with a variation of inflection or tone or the use of sarcasm. Before they even realize what is happening the word "love" does not mean love any more. "Honey" is hissed through clenched teeth. "Love" is spouted out with rolling eyes. "Sugar" is hissed. "Baby" is not meant to imply cuteness or innocence, but pouting, or throwing a tizzy. And the words "Handsome" and "Beautiful" go right out the window.

To help couples avoid arguments they need to be thoughtful and considerate about how they use their language. They should be consistent in the meaning and application of the words of endearment they choose. They should avoid butchering or misapplying this special language. And, of course, they should always refrain from speaking in a derogatory manner towards one another. Instead of saying something ugly or hurtful take a break, cry, or go for a walk. Save it for a time when you don't feel so emotionally charged.

Unfortunately, intimacy is terribly misunderstood by a large portion of the male population in our culture. Sadly, men often equate intimacy with sex, and this is just not the case. When true intimacy is present individuals feel safe talking about their feelings, their hopes, dreams and fears. Intimacy allows transparency between individuals allowing them to feel comfortable about them selves and able to share and talk. When intimacy is missing arguments escalate.  Increase the intimacy and arguments will diminish.

It is truly sad that so many married couples avoid physical contact as much as they do. It is not always the spoken word that is needed, but the soft touch. Unfortunately, many men often think that physical contact between a man and a woman must inevitably lead to sex. As time passes in a relationship and the man learns that this is not always the case he has a tendency to avoid physical contact to prevent himself from becoming sexually aroused.

Physical contact, good touching, is an essential part of a healthy life for everyone. Couples need to take the time to validate one another through those unspoken words that are conveyed when the other partner is receptive towards them. A soft caress of the hand, shoulder or cheek can often disarm a communication breakdown.

Arguing is a Choice

Finally, couples need to remember that arguing, as with all behavior, is a choice. We, as individuals, are responsible for our own feelings and behavior. The husband is not responsible for his wife's feelings and behavior. Nor is the wife responsible for the husband's feelings and behavior. If one of them feels like arguing, it is their choice. Spouses need to learn how not to engage in the insanity of arguing.

Remember friends, when those arguments do pop up that they really don't have to. You don't have to argue with your spouse. You can choose to talk things out in an adult and civil way when both of you are willing and able to do so. Finally, try praying together or for one another. Give God a chance to help you when you can't seem to help yourselves.
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Mark Parsec is a recovered addict who has been instrumental in helping to change the lives of thousands of individuals who have sought solutions to drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse and mental or emotional distress. He is a graduate of William Jessup University. Mark is the pastor of a church in central California. Please visit him at 

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