First let’s make it clear that “arguing” and “fighting” are two completely different things.
- Arguing: to present reasons for or against a thing:
- Fighting: a battle or combat.
Let’s say you and your loved one are having a disagreement over money. Money is a huge issue in relationships and often the one responsible for some mean-ass shit to be said. When looking at reasons for divorce, they usually come in this list: Infidelity, Death of a Child and Money. So, how does one argue about the subject or almost any subject? Here are a few guidelines.
- Stay on topic: Wow, this is the big one, don’t jump off topic to something else. Let’s say that your husband is spending all kinds of money playing golf. You’re looking at the budget / bills and realize you’re not able to make the payments; you start to grow frustrated with him because he’s spending $100.00 a month playing golf and you simply can’t afford it. You decide to confront him with your worries about the bills and his spending.
Wife: WTF, we can’t pay the bills and you’re wasting money on a stupid game. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you care about our children and feeding them? NO! Of course not because you’re a selfish person who only cares about one thing… You. You’re just like your dad… I’m surprised you even come home half the time, why can’t you show us as much love as you show your golf buddies?
Husband: Maybe if you quit your bitching I would want to be here… Golf is the only thing I do. You don’t care about me, you’re just like your mother, it’s no surprise your dad left her, maybe you should just move in with her and we’d both be happy.
Wow, what is wrong with this couple? I’m sure that golf is not the only problem here. The wife’s worry is that money is tight, she wants to pay the bills and feels that the husband is spending irresponsibly. But she didn’t argue that very long, she attacked his love for his children, caring for only himself, and compared him to his father, who might not have been that great a guy. He in turn went on the defensive, and attacked her as well.
So, how do we do it? Slowly, this problem didn’t just pop out of nowhere, it’s been brewing for a while. What is the real problem?
- Can’t pay the bills
- Spending money on impractical things, like golf
Step one: pick a time when you can be alone. Maybe when the kids are sleeping or out of the house. Step two: prepare for the argument by bringing in supporting material, like the bill statements, income statements and spending habits. Step three: do not attack. Let the husband know that you want to talk, that you are anxious and worried about the spending and the bills and that you want to find a solution together. If playing golf is important to him, you want to help find a way for him to do it and enjoy it without the stress of coming home to an angry, bitter wife.
Don’t expect to solve all your problems at the first meeting. Setup more meetings for the future. Every Tuesday from 9-10 we’ll work on budgeting. Figure out a way together to solve the problem. “I know you like to play golf and I want you to enjoy yourself”. The husband would say something like, “I know we need to pay the bills and I want to help reduce your stress”. If you spend a limited amount of time, say an hour a week working on the issue, you’ll be less likely to “lose it”. Keep focused on the problem at hand. Find solutions, maybe instead of golfing every week, the husband can golf every second week, or cut one week out. Negotiate and work together.
The idea is to focus on the real problem, don’t bring outside “stuff” into it. It’s not about his love for the children or the wife’s tight-ass attitude. Focus, talk, respect: these are the things you need to work on when arguing. If you love each other, you’ll want to work on fixing things to make your lives better, not worse for everyone involved. Remember it’s not about solving the issue on the first try, it’s about working together day in and day out.
Chip & Honey Toodee