Have you realized yet that sometimes you can appear to “win” an argument, but in the long run, you still lose? You may feel better after winning. But when your spouse feels like a loser, it’s your relationship that will ultimately lose.
We’re told in the Bible:
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)
“Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)
There’s something we’ve learned in our own marriage about communicating with each other that we’d like to point out in this Marriage Message. This is because we see so many others struggling with the same issue. And that is, to be careful when we’re arguing with your spouse. We have to be careful that we don’t run over him or her with our words just because we can.
You Can Win But Still Lose
We may be louder, and more forceful with our arguments. But truly, what does that prove? The Bible says, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife. But every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3) “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (Proverbs 29:11)
When it comes to arguing, we may be able to convey our thoughts quicker. We may be able to communicate our points more eloquently than our partner is able (or feels safe) to. But that doesn’t mean our point of view is more “right” than theirs. It just means that we more gifted (or we think we are) when it comes to arguing over an issue. Or maybe the reverse is true. Perhaps our spouse is the one who is better able to articulate his or her views in a clearer manner.
Whoever is the “gifted” one —as with any type of giftedness, there comes responsibility. The spouse, who can out-argue the other, needs to be careful not to verbally run over them. This is because it can lead them to feel stupid, and less heard. The Bible says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” That principle applies here, so one “partner” doesn’t take advantage of the other.
We can sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that because we’re able to make our point SOUND more reasonable to us, it’s more legitimate. The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) It also says, “The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
Beware of Hurting Our Spouse
Sometimes we can win the argument but lose in our marriage because ultimately, we’ve hurt our spouse. Just because they don’t know how to communicate as well as we can, it doesn’t invalidate their viewpoint. What they feel and perceive is as important as what the argument is all about in the first place. Actually it’s more important. You didn’t vow to love winning an argument. You married to love your spouse. His or her feelings should be your main concern.
Eventually our spouse may get to the point where he or she won’t even TRY to communicate with us. They don’t think we’d listen or care about what they say because they feel devalued. And then we’d wonder, “Why won’t he/she talk me?” The answer is, it started earlier in our relationship. At some point we shut them down by not listening to “their side” of things. Or it could be that we chided him or her in some way. We thought our point of view sounded better to us than theirs did. It could also be an attitude they carried into the marriage from things that happened to them in their past.
Giving Grace and Space
This is where what Steve and I call, “giving each other grace and space” is important. Be merciful and give grace (good will) to your spouse whenever it’s possible. If you’re more skilled at arguing than your spouse is, back off a bit. In the Bible we’re told, “When words are many, sin is not absent. But he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19) Make sure you not only say what you feel is absolutely necessary to communicate to them, but also listen to what THEY have to say. It’s important to LEARN to listen (which is a lifetime achievement).
To learn the power of listening, rid yourself of the:
“’How – can – I – get – you – to – shut – up – and – listen – to – me?’ mind-set and replace it with a ‘What – can – I – do – to – create – a – safe – place – where – understanding – can – take – root – and – grow?’ attitude.” (From the book, Can You Hear Me Now? by Dallas and Nancy Demmit)
Build Communications Bridges
The ultimate goal in any marital conflict is to build relationship bridges. It is not to build relationship walls between us. It’s important that we both feel heard and understood, loved and valued. Ultimately, we are to come together to figure out a solution for whatever is dividing us.
You may need to learn how to listen to the INTENTION of their heart —to what they may WANT to communicate to you. It may be that, for some reason, they just can’t communicate well. And both of you may need to build up your speaking/listening skills so you can help each other in this. If your spouse won’t cooperate in this mission to help your marriage, then work to make this happen as best as you can. We have articles and communication tools in various topics of this web site that help you. You can find a number of them in the following topics:
Below are a few scriptures relating to this issue. We hope you will prayerfully read them, asking God to speak to your heart. Ask Him how you can apply them to your life with your marital partner.
• Preserve sound judgment and discernment; do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, and ornament to grace your neck. (Proverbs 3:21-22)
• If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, to free yourself… go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:2-5)
• The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment. (Proverbs 10:21)
• He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. (Proverbs 15:31)
• How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver! (Proverbs 16:16)
• A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23)
• He who answers before listening —that is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13)
• The tongue has the power of life and death; and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21) This could also be death of communication in a marriage if you aren’t careful.
• A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
• He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (Proverbs 21:23)
• A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
Ask God to show you how to be a dispenser of grace rather than a vessel of criticism with your partner in marriage.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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14 responses to “Arguing: Win But Still Lose – MM #203”
(SOUTH AFRICA) As per the communication part, we used to just leave things the way they were cause we would end up in a fight trying to solve the problem that we had at that time. It was bad. But now I think it is getting better step by step.
(BOTSWANA) l am getting married in August and a mutual friend of ours introduced this site to me… and l must say its been a blessing. Your teachings are very good. Thank you so much.
(USA) This article also applies to dating couples, office communication, communicating with relatives, Etc. It has application in a wide range of communication situations. I use it for a variety of counseling for communication skills. It also works good with parent and child communication skill training. Thanks.
(UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) I am so glad I found this site! I’ve been guilty of fighting in this unfair, unflattering and unhelpful manner and I feel so awful afterwards. I can feel the distance it creates and I hate it. This article was so helpful I had to print it out and put it on the corkboard above my desk.
Thank you Angela, for letting us know this. It’s one of the reasons we have this web site –to poke holes in the darkness (which includes our misguided thinking). I used to be there too, and I’m so glad I’ve found out differently. Changing the way my husband and I approach conflict has DEFINITELY helped our marriage. I hope it will help yours. Please know that your comment has encouraged us. Thanks!
I have scoured the internet trying to find biblical advice on marital arguments. My wife is notorious for being argumentative. I am trying to walk with grace but find it increasingly hard when I cannot voice my feelings and when I do to be told that it is wrong and I don’t feel that way. We have been married 10 years and I never had a voice. I don’t think I ever will. I believe it is time to give up. However you do give good advice on the topic, all of which I have already implemented. I will be praying for everyone on here. Best regards.
My wife is very controlling and it causes arguments all the time. I pray for patience and love her very much, but it’s difficult to lead my family the way the Bible tells me I should when I’m constantly working against her and her desire to make decisions for us. It’s especially hard when she threatens to leave if I don’t see things her way. This upsets our children so I’ve given in a lot in the past to save them from the anguish of their mother saying these kinds of things. What can I do to convince her that change is needed?
Hi Bill, you and your wife can try marriage counseling, couples therapy..So both of you can adjust better with the changes.
I’ve been married for 18 years, when I was 18. My wife and I get along ALL of the time because for the most part I try to live just like this. I love her and she loves me with everything we both have. Tonight we got in a fight “I don’t remember the last fight we had because of how few and far between we have fights” because I had a bad day at work and boy did the FOOL ever come out. And I’ve NEVER been soo sorry in my life!! She’ll forgive me because she loves me but this one stupid fight will definately scar us for a while. This is exactly what I needed to realise what I had done. Thank you very much, and God bless you and your marriage!!!
When searching for biblical answers to help me resolve the issue of arguing with my wife God certainly directed my steps to find this website. It opened my eyes and heart to the truth as to how I’ve been hurting my wife with words. I am (so I think) the better communicator with the ability to express my feelings. However, I’ve been a fool with no filter, no thought and definitely no love in communicating my thoughts and feelings to this precious gift God had given me. Thank you for allowing God to use you in guiding others toward a loving God-filled marriage.
Thank you Antonio, for reading, recognizing, confessing, and now sharing this with us and others who will read what you wrote. It’s important that we pass onto others the lessons we learn –even the sad ones, so hopefully it will also benefit others. I pray you are able to work on this issue so you slow things down a bit and listen as well as talk, and give grace to your wife.
We have quite a few articles posted on this web site that can help you learn how to do this. It IS something that is a learned skill, because it doesn’t come naturally to most of us NOT to mow over the other with our words when we’re upset. One article, we just posted this week, that I encourage you to read is found at: https://marriagemissions.com/right-fighting/. But I also recommend you go into the “Communication and Conflict” topic and the “Communication Tools” topic of this web site, because we have quite a few articles you could glean through and learn through and apply, which may help. They’ve sure helped us. I hope you will do what you can to work on this matter –it’s an important one. I hope this for the sake of your wife and for your marriage. I pray God helps you in this as you look to Him for guidance as our “Wonderful Counselor.”
Great article! My boyfriend found this site & sent me this article this morning. We don’t fight/argue often but, lately we have. I’m in real estate, which does not have defined hours. On the other hand, he is an electrician & works 7a-3:30p or 5:30p. When he clocks out at work, it’s like he clocks out entirely. He has definitely grown a lot in this area since we’ve been together such as coming home to help with trash, dishes, cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, etc.
I work from home so I do most of it while I work throughout the day. We have some of his family that lives with us as well but, I’m the clean freak in the house. Which I have really had to work to try to worry less about the little things & realize it doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. Keep me/us in your prayers please. I am very excited that he found this site. I will definitely spend some time looking around at all of the information.
My fiancé and I argue a lot. I want to thank you for your wise advice. God bless you and I will surely try to implement it in our relationship; thank you.
Thank you for the great insight. My wife has anger issues and then tries dragging me into the argument more. We both get yelling and become downright mean to each other. I need to keep humble and not “fight back.” I guess I just have to take it and let the Lord judge her instead of me trying to tell her what the Bible says about her behavior and that it’s not okay. Makes it worse. It really hurts me when she does “attack.” Sometimes I feel like giving up or just leaving her.