How to End an Argument

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: Please give me some tips on how to stop arguing with my wife. It seems that she is ready to fight at the drop of the hat, and so am I.

The old saying, “It takes two to tango” is applicable in this case. It may be that you can simply choose not to dance. Check your own internal sensitivity and choose to toughen up a bit. Most of those things that people argue about are relatively trivial and will matter little tomorrow.

Before things go too far, you may request that you be given time to think about the issue, but set a time to return and discuss it. You should choose a time and setting where you will not be interrupted. But don’t stonewall about setting a time, or forget the appointment.

If your wife continues to argue, you might choose to bite your tongue and listen without engaging. Words sometimes will only add fuel to the fire. Accept the fact that even when you are certain that you are right, there is a gap between truth and your perception of truth. Individual who are always right will never be able to truly dialogue.

Never, never bring others into the argument to garner support for your viewpoint. A good way to sabotage any relationship is to air your dirty laundry for others to see or hear. Keep it private. If you can’t resolve it, see your pastor or a counselor, but don’t bring friends or family into the argument. It’s nearly impossible for someone too close to you to be impartial.

Another alternative is to exercise humility and apologize for your part in the problem. Promise to be aware of the other person’s feelings in the future. However, I must issue a word of caution here. If the argument is the result of false accusations on the part of your spouse toward you, it is a mistake to agree in any way that you committed some act that you did not commit. To do so will only add credence the other person’s imagination and strengthen the argument against you in the future.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].