“I feel you are selfish.” My husband and I had gone to premarital counseling before we tied the knot and learned all the right and wrong things to say in an argument. We were in our first year of marriage when my husband pulled the “I feel” card—except he used it wrong. He didn’t tell me how he felt at all! Thankfully, his blunder made us both laugh (humor does wonders to cut tension) and we still use his infamous “I feel” statement as a joke now.
Fifteen years later, we still get into fights over seemingly small things. But how do you know if the issue is big or serious enough to bring up? There are some days it just seems like our words hit a little differently and all of a sudden, we spiral into an episode of “Maury.” To help you decide if the issue is worth it, here are 3 things to check before you start a fight with your spouse.
1. Check your motives.
One of the first things to check before you start a fight with your spouse is why you feel like fighting. Is it for you or for us? This doesn’t mean you neglect your individual needs, but it does mean that you recognize when the fight you want to pick is really just about getting your way or if you’re showing contempt toward your husband. Stop and reassess whether it’s really worth bringing up, or if it’s something you can let roll. Doing so can open an opportunity to extend grace rather than start an unnecessary fight.
2. Check your past.
Do you let past hurts dictate your present mood? I know I have. I thought I moved past this, so what gives? Take it from me: When checking the things to check before you start a fight with your spouse, this is huge. Ask yourself if past hurts could influence your argument because that can hurt your relationship more than help it. However, if there is a deep wound that you’re struggling with, you should definitely talk about it in a healthy, non-argumentative way, and not when you’re in the middle of a fight. If the wound still lingers, consider speaking to a professional counselor.
3. Check the time.
It’s important not to bombard your spouse with a fight when there are other tensions in the mix, whether it’s work, kids, or anything else stressing either of you out in the moment. Saving the serious arguments for a different time might make for living in tension a bit longer, but it can provide more time to think through your approach. It will also give you a chance to make sure you’re fighting for the right reasons (see point one). If your spouse is the type who won’t be able to wait until later, just make sure to approach him when you’re ready to talk things out.
Do you tend to argue with your spouse right away or wait a while before bringing it up?