Do you find yourself involved in arguments with your spouse, where calming arguments down (or at least certain arguments) before you continue any further is best? If you don’t, it’s almost certain something will be said and/or done that would be ungodly. And then regrets and ill feelings swarm in afterward. Working through those feelings and issues complicate the original matter all the more.
So, calming down arguments is a good thing to do if the emotionality is getting out of hand. But how do you do that? You know you can’t let the conflicting issues pile up and not resolve them. However, angry emotions are difficult to tame once they get fired up. So what can you do to work through them and yet not allow them to grow out of control?
Calming Down Arguments that are Heated
First off, it’s important to know:
“Disagreements in marriage will come, and that’s okay. It’s not about whether we will fight as a couple—because we will—but how and when we fight that matters. In Mark 3:25, Jesus states, ‘If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.’ As a couple, we should seek to work through our conflict in ways and times that serve to unite us.” (Ashleigh Slater, from, “Team Us Marriage Together”)
With that established we want to say up front that this Marriage Insight will not be able to hit upon all the issues involving calming down arguments in your marriage. You know that. But we can touch upon a few points that can give you a great starting point. We have a LOT more posted on the Marriage Missions web site that can give you additional tips and tools. Please take advantage of what we make available to you. We have a lot of free stuff there for you to grab onto and use.
But for now, below are a few tips that have helped us and we’re hoping they will help you.
A Few Tips for Calming Down Arguments
“In marriage, when we’re not wise to keep watch over our attitudes, actions, and our communication with our spouses, we set off explosions, so to speak. When harsh words and judgments are carelessly thrown about, they cause devastation. …Develop the skills of self-discipline, of knowing when to take a time-out, and of recognizing when you’re feeling defensive, to keep yourself from exploding on your spouse.” (Jim Burns, from article, “Mistakes That Can Sink Your Marriage”)
In addition, here are some suggestions Dr David Clarke gives:
“When something goes haywire, when one of you reverts to your dysfunctional conflict style, you can’t save that conversation. No couple can. It’s over. Either spouse can call for a stop, and it must be honored. Take a time out and get some space. It might be just five minutes. Go to the bathroom. Feed the dog. Go to the backyard and do a primal scream. Tell your spouse when you are ready to resume and ask him [or her] to find you when he [or she] is ready. Then sit down and start up where you left off.” (From Dr Clarke’s book, “Kiss Me Like You Like Mean It”)
Here’s another idea:
In a blog written a while back, marriage expert, Lori Byerly, wrote the following concerning calming down marital arguments:
“One of the things I did early on, when I was learning how to watch my tongue, was to practice saying sentences that would help me in stressful moments.
“For example, when I felt like going off, I had a ready sentence or two. ‘Can we talk about this in a half hour or so? I’m really stressed and I need some time to calm down and gather my thoughts.’ I also used, ‘I need to go for a walk,’ more than a few times.
“This ‘be prepared’ kind of concept works for all sorts of situations. If you find yourself facing the same mess over and over again, consider for the next time what you could say differently.” (From Lori Byerly’s article, “Rehearse Your Responses“)
This is a lot like the same thing the Lord showed me (Cindy) a number of years ago. In my prayer and Bible reading times the Lord showed me that I was not handling our conflicts well. I was acting like a hot-headed, short-sighted fool. And that sure was not helping our marriage relationship. God wants us to work through and marry our differences—not blow them up and allow them to separate us. I’m not accountable for Steve’s actions, but I am accountable for mine. And I have had to work on that (and still am) so we are able to resolve our conflicts more peaceable.
Through the years (and many bad experiences) I have learned (and am still learning) to stop. When I am wise I intentionally take the time to calm down before continuing. This is hard to do (because selfishly I want to continue); but it has been the wisest thing to do. And it has helped our marriage relationship immensely.
I tell Steve I need a time out but that I’ll be back soon. I then go into another room and talk things through with God instead and/or just quiet down in the presence of the Lord for a while. Sometimes that involves a lot of pacing and sorting through angry emotions; and sometimes that involves just sitting quietly to gain my composure. That’s okay, because when I get to a calmer place within, I can approach matters in a less toxic manner. At that point, I go back to talk to Steve. We always make sure that we re-approach our conflicting issues sooner, rather than later. It’s important not to let conflicting issues pile up between us.
God is so good to listen to the rawness of my emotions. He helps me get to a healthier place in my anger. The Lord has taught me that some things just aren’t safe to say anywhere else other than alone with the Lord. They’re too raw and unedited.
I used to be under the disillusionment that my husband Steve needed to hear whatever I had to say when I was upset. Uh… Uh!!! Absolutely not! That’s as far from the truth as it can get.
Yes, there are SOME things that my husband needs to hear from me. After all, what kind of marriage partnership would we have if I didn’t tell him what was upsetting me? And the same is true for my husband in what he needs to tell me.
There are times when it’s important to speak the “truth in love,” as the Bible tells us to do. And sometimes those “truths” involve being angry. But there are some hurtful things, that pop into my brain sometimes that needs to be stopped. They need to be sorted out and taken to the Lord first. In doing so HE can help me eliminate the junk. That way I can proceed and “sin not” in my anger (as told in Ephesians 4:26 and Psalm 4:4).
I’ve learned through years of handling them wrong, that I can’t always trust my emotions. There are times when something will come up and I’ll get so angry about it, that it’s best NOT to vent it out at my husband. It is best for me to back up. I need to take time to pray about it, listen to God, and THEN make the decision whether or not to discuss it further with my husband.
Keep in mind that “Love Is Not a Fight, But It’s Something Worth Fighting For.” We need to learn to fight FOR our marriage and FOR that which is truly important. But we must not damage each other or our relationship, in the process.
A good guide to consider, whenever matters come up where we’re capable of blurting out something we shouldn’t, is a scripture my sons and I memorized a number of years ago. It’s a great guide.
We’re told in scripture:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
But there are more. The following are scriptural warnings that we ALL need to keep in mind, and change our behavior accordingly. I hope they help you as they help us while we’re working on calming down arguments. Please take the time to meditate and pray about how they apply to your relationship with your spouse.
As for calming down arguments, prayerfully consider:
• He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (Proverbs 13:3)
• He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (Proverbs 21:23)
• If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
• Love is not rude, and it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
• But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)
• Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)
• A fool gives full vent to his anger. But a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)
Additionally Remember When You’re Calming Down Arguments:
• It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)
• A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)
• Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. (Proverbs 17:28)
• If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth! For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife. (Proverbs 30:32-33)
• What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet. But you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (James 4:1-2)
• Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14)
May we never forget this wisdom when issues rise up and rile us up with the potential to divide us! Also, here’s an article that builds upon the subject of calming down arguments that we encourage you to read:
We pray this has been helpful.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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