It’s extremely rare (if ever) that spouses can live together and NOT disagree at times. But do we need an audience? Is it possible to argue and not involve others? Of course, the answer to the first question is, no, we don’t “need” an audience. The answer to the second question is yes, it IS possible, and it’s usually best to argue and NOT do it in front of others. That’s where we need to apply the S.T.O.P. Arguing principle. See The Other People!
Stop Arguing When There’s an Audience
Who, under non-abusive situations (where you’re trying to protect someone) should be involved in a married couple’s arguments, other than a counselor? It’s awkward, at best. Children are especially to hearing and many times seeing their parents argue. It puts them in a really bad place of hearing the two people they love the most clash with each other, saying things children really shouldn’t hear. That’s why it’s usually best to keep it private.
Please know that not only do other people NOT want to be part of your arguments with each other, you shouldn’t expose your spouse to this invasion of privacy (even if you’re angry and want to hurt them). It shows that you aren’t valuing your spouse as a marriage partner. Even if he or she is the one who initiates the argument, do what you can to get out of it until you’re alone.
Consider your spouse and be considerate of others, ESPECIALLY children whose minds are impressionable, and whose hearts can easily be put into places of confusion and upset.
It’s true what Dr Phil McGraw said on his TV show one day:
“Fighting in front of the kids is a silent epidemic. While yelling and screaming are anything but silent, the silence comes from the children. They don’t have the power to speak up about the pain they’re experiencing.”
Consider the circumstances and setting when you fight.
As it pertains to fighting in front of others, especially children, author Cherie Barboch, from the article, “Fighting Fair” gives the following advice:
“Consider the time and place. It can be difficult to holding your fury when you first realize you’ve been wronged. However, it’s important to wait until you and your partner are alone in a quiet space. If your partner is busy at work, out with friends, or in the midst of a family visit, wait until he/she can speak with you one on one [alone].”
Choose the place in which you fight.
We agree with her advice and something that Dr David Clarke wrote (in a recent email he sent to us):
“Choose one place in your home where you’ll deal with conflict. Make it a neutral place. …It could be an office, a spare bedroom, the back porch… This is the only place you’ll talk through conflicts [whenever it’s even remotely possible]. Limiting your conflicts to this place will ensure that your conflicts won’t infect the special places in your home. It’s a psychological thing. Conflicts can start anywhere, but your agreement is that you’ll wait to deal with the issue in this conflict place.
“This place must be private. If your conflict place isn’t in a room with a door, then confine the kids to their rooms during your conflict talks. Just say: ‘Mom and Dad will be having a private talk, so stay in your rooms.’ If you have teens, this won’t be a problem. They’ll already be in their rooms. If you have small kids, wait until they’re in bed or make them stay in their rooms as you talk.”
You may need to modify this advice if you’re on vacation, or whatever. But please do what you can to S.T.O.P. arguing …See The Other People. Be considerate of their wants, not just your impulse to argue it out, no matter who’s with you.
Concerning this issue, below are a few more articles you may find helpful. Each article gives a different slant on the topic.
Other related articles:
It’s important to do what God tells us in Philippians 2:3-4:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.“
If you need some help on resolving conflict in healthy ways please glean through the following topics:
When tempted to argue when it’s not a good time, remember:
• Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
• A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly (Proverbs 14:29).
• A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).
• Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue (Proverbs 17:28).
We pray this Insight helps in some way.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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Filed under: Communication and Conflict