Marriage,  Stories

Rules of Engagement: Arguing with Your Man

At the risk of being labeled a traitor by my fellow-men for possibly revealing how to win arguments against us, let me share with you how you can make disagreements more palatable. Believe me when I say that men despise these word wars as much as you do.

The problem with most arguments is that the protagonists are already too deeply invested in the issues, protecting their stands to the teeth, for them to even think rationally. To address this, during the periods of peace, develop with him your “Couple Rules of Engagement” to identify the dos and don’ts of your future verbal tussles. Identify what both of you do not want to hear or experience at all when such a time comes. Write down and sign this agreement, and have it handy whenever needed.

The guidelines can include the very important but often forgotten “Stick to the issues at hand” or the related “Never bring up the sins of the past”, especially if these have already been discussed. These are obvious rules but are sometimes taken for granted.

You can include a contrarian “It is okay to sleep without settling the argument”. Most people insist that one should not go to bed unless a resolution has been reached. If both are physically tired, sleep might just be the break you both need. But ensure that the decision to sleep is a mutual one, with an agreement to continue the discussion some other time in the near future or the following day, if possible. Never sweep the issues under the rug, hoping they will magically disappear.

Include “avoid wounding your man’s ego”, as he is bound to become uncontrollable once you hit the switch. It takes only a moment for him to lose it all and an eternity to gain everything back. It might be good to let your man win some of the battles. Give in when the issues are negotiable on your part. This could help soften his stance as well.

As a guiding principle, “remember that ultimately, both of you are after what is good”. It just so happens that in this particular instance, you are on opposing sides. Before you resume your tirades, focus on the common grounds you agree on. Perhaps it can mitigate the definitive stance you are taking.

“Never forget that there is a lifetime of married life ahead with your man”. Do not make decisions or say anything that would compromise your shared life. Under no circumstance should you abuse your man physically or worse, verbally. These are recipes for disasters.

When everything else fails, “take time out to pray”. Be bold enough to ask for a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting to spend some quiet moment to ask God to intercede and intervene in the disagreement. If your man does not agree to the break, excuse yourself for a moment of reflection. Hopefully, this will encourage your man to do the same and remember what made you fall in love with each other in the first place.

At the end of the day, the good outweighs the bad, and every argument should be seen as a stepping stone to making the relationship even better. It’s not about who wins this time, but it’s about how “we” can get through this together.

Aldy Katigbak

Aldy Katigbak is a dedicated father of four who takes pride in being the kind of man his daughters want for their future spouse. A mentor to his two sons, he coaches them on life, finances, and basketball. Aldy married his first girlfriend and they now serve together in the pro-life ministry of a covenanted Catholic community, actively promoting St. john Paul II's Theology of the Body.

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