Are Couples’ Quarrels Soon Mended?

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It is good to make up with each other right away after an argument, but it is better not to turn an argument into a quarrel.

Husband and wife may quarrel like enemies, but then they soon make up with each other as if nothing happened. That is why there is a saying that goes, “Couples’ quarrels are soon mended.” However, it sounds invalid these days. The divorce rate keeps increasing year after year, and there are many accidents and crimes caused by quarrels between husband and wife, such as setting a house on fire out of anger.

People say that after a storm comes a calm. But if it goes over the edge, the storm will be out of control. If there is a crack in pottery, it will end up breaking. In the same way, if a quarrel continues between husband and wife, no matter how small, they may get tired of it and become distant from each other. It would be impossible for married couples not to have any conflict, but wise couples would make efforts to prevent a conflict from turning into a quarrel.

Why do they quarrel when married in love?

A husband and his wife went to court after a quarrel about whether they should eat steamed potatoes with sugar or with salt. After hearing their story, the judge said, “I eat them with pepper paste.”

The reason conflicts arise in married couples is that they are different from each other. They talk differently and have different tastes. They have different sleep patterns, and the way they put toothpaste on the toothbrush is different, too. Even the twins who came out of the same womb at the same time have different personalities. Then, what about a man and a woman who grew up in different environments until they became adults?

Although they married each other in love, they come to face conflicts over money, education for their children, relationships with the in-laws, house chores, the way of talking, and so on. Such conflicts lead to quarrels most when they do not have a strong bond as a couple. When a husband and wife whose bond is weak have a problem, they are likely to blame, hate, or avoid each other. However, a couple who has a strong bond with each other tries to find the way to solve the problem together.

As we see in the aforesaid story, it is meaningless to tell what is right or wrong whether to eat potatoes with salt or with sugar. When someone is different from you, it doesn’t mean that he is wrong. What if the husband and wife had said, “I’ve always had potatoes with sugar, but let me try with salt this time” or “Wow, potatoes with salt sound good”? They would not have gone to court, but would have enjoyed the potatoes together.

Things to remember during conflicts

1. Use your ears more than your mouth

If you only try to speak what you want to say without trying to listen to the other person, it will only incite conflicts. Try to listen more than to speak. If you give ear to the other person, you can understand him. Just by listening to him until he’s done talking, you can put out the fire of the quarrel before it gets serious.

When you talk, don’t try to discipline or nag, but let the listener know your thoughts or feelings. Instead of saying, “You have to do it,” or “You caused this,” try to say, “Will you help me with this?” or “When you did that, it hurt my feelings.” If you speak in the first person, your conversation will become a lot smoother.

2. Avoid the words that provoke anger

While quarreling, a husband and wife often forget about the fundamental cause of the quarrel, and cling to picking at what the other person says and speaking ill of each other. There are some things that you should avoid even if the conflict gets serious and you get angry. You shouldn’t bring up the other person’s weak points such as looks, educational backgrounds, family backgrounds, or past mistakes, and compare him/her with someone else. You shouldn’t speak sarcastically or cynically. Of course, you should avoid curses and abusive words. If you hurt his/her feelings on purpose, being carried away by your feelings, it will be like adding oil to the fire. You should be careful not to hurt his/her feelings with words; those words wound the listener’s heart, and the scar lasts for a long time and causes another conflict.

3. Talk in a low voice

Once you raise your voice, it is no longer a conversation, but a quarrel. If you talk in a loud and angry voice, communication cannot be smooth but upsets the listener. People say that you have to be loud when you get in a car accident to win it, but conflicts in married couples are not the matter of winning or losing. Even if your spouse raises his/her voice first, don’t raise your voice. Instead, make your voice low and try to have a calm conversation. If it still doesn’t work, leave that place for a little while and think what made both of you angry and how to solve the problem, and then try to continue your conversation again.

4. Do not quarrel before your child

An innocent bystander gets hurt in a fight. The biggest victim in a quarrel between husband and wife is their child. A child feels extremely uneasy and scared when he sees his parents quarrel, and can even feel guilty. The more often that happens, the less likely the child stays emotionally stable. If you happen to quarrel in front of your child unavoidably, explain to him that mom and dad have some disagreement and so are trying to come to an agreement.

5. Don’t keep a conflict long

Percy Arrowsmith (105), who broke the record of the longest marriage in England in 2005, explained about their secret of an 80-year-long happy marriage life. It was to say “I love you” or “I am sorry” as often as possible, and whenever they had a quarrel, they made sure to be reconciled with each other before going to bed.

It is not good to keep a conflict long. There is nothing to be gained by trying to save your face or by standing on pride between husband and wife. People say, “Losing is winning.” It is better to accept your spouse’s opinion and try to be reconciled first.

A husband and wife are to respect and understand each other’s differences all their lives. If you try to change your spouse the way you want while not changing yourself, conflicts will never end. John Gottman, a professor known for his work on marital stability and relationship, says that 70% of conflicts in married couples have no solutions. Then how can they live together with so many problems? The answer is simple. All you need to do is accept your spouse as (s)he is. Of course, if your spouse has a problem that could break your marital life, it has to be fixed. However, for trivial matters, you should be able to have a broad mind to think, ‘It’s not a big deal.’

You are to care and protect your spouse. When your spouse is happy, you can be happy, too. Husband and wife are one in body and soul, aren’t they? We don’t have enough time even just to love each other, so let us cover faults and help each other in weak points and make a happy family.