The short version:
- Any time you’re arguing, you’ve already lost
- Discuss specific actions, not generalities
- Be right
- Turn small losses into big wins
- Assignment: The work you need to do to win every argument forever.
The long version
It comes as a surprise to married guys, but women don’t want to win arguments. They want winners. And that means that somewhere deep inside your wife, she actually wants you to win the argument.
I can hear you grumbling, “Max, you obviously haven’t met my wife!” Bear with me.
First, Stop Arguing.
Just stop doing it. You should never have to raise your voice. Weak men raise their voices to make themselves appear stronger or intimidate others. If your wife starts yelling, you talk softer. You don’t need to yell because you’re going to win this. Plus, being calm in the face of anger sends the signal that you’re a reliable man with resilience. That’s sexy to women. And nobody yells at someone they’ve got the hots for.
Instead of arguing, you’re going to discuss issues. If your wife did something that upsets you, talk to her about it. Wait until you’ve cooled off so you don’t raise your voice and don’t do something stupid, like be wrong.
If your wife is irate over something you did, talk to her about it. You’re going to ignore all of her over-the-top rhetoric, like, “You always do this,” and “I can’t believe I have to put up with this.” (And you should never hurl “always” and “never” accusations at her, either.) You’re going to ask her to explain what is upsetting her. The specific event that has upset her this time. If she’s got a whole list of issues, tell her that you two can’t tackle everything at once. Insist on taking them one at a time.
For each of these issues, you need to know (preferably in advance) what is right and what is wrong. Not right or wrong according to you. Not right or wrong according to your wife. Right or wrong according to a higher power . . .
God told me I could play golf all day!
Ok, I guess if God speaks directly to you about hitting your 1-iron, you can use Him as your higher power, but most of us don’t have that direct line to the Supreme Being. No, the rest of us need a different higher power. We turn to . . . The Mission.
The family mission decides who is right and who is wrong. If it isn’t written in the family mission, then it isn’t important enough to argue over who is right or wrong.
So when your wife starts yelling about how long you spent on the golf course, you never have to argue with her. It doesn’t matter if you were right or wrong. Either way, there’s no argument.
If the family mission allows for golf time, you calmly point that out to her. That’s the end of it. If the family mission forbids you from playing golf, or you shirked some other mission-critical event to play golf, you admit your mistake and you tell her what you’ll do to make up for it.
Give yourself a harsh punishment if you violated the mission. That sends the signal that you, as Captain of this mission, hold everyone to strict standards. By handling this small “loss” well, you earn her respect – and her adherence to the mission in the future – and that’s a big win for you. I have even heard of guys who intentionally screwed up in some small way early in the process just so they could set the punishment standards!
If the family mission doesn’t say anything about how often you can golf, then nobody can tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. No fighting. No arguing. If your wife wants to re-visit what’s in the mission, that’s a perfectly reasonable request; schedule a time to talk about it. Don’t discuss it right after she complains about your golf . . . you don’t want her unreasonable complaint to taint a reasonable request to re-visit how you’ll achieve the mission.
Similarly, don’t ever get mad at your wife for something that isn’t in the family mission. If you don’t have a written-on-paper monthly budget as part of your mission, then you can’t complain about how much she spends on shoes. If you don’t like her shoe spending, then talk about adding a budget to your mission, without ever mentioning her previous purchases.
The Husband Power assignment
Ninety five percent of the people who read this will say to themselves, “That’s interesting. I’ll have to think about this.” Are you in the 5% who will actually take action, take charge, and stop the fighting forever?
Here’s what you have to do.
- Set a time for a family meeting. Do this right now, while you’re thinking about it.
- After you set the meeting, but before the meeting itself, read through the articles linked below on how to create a family mission statement. From these options, you can assemble your own plan for working through the process.
- Go through the process you’ve outlined with your family. Get everyone’s agreement on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Be sure to include a budget in the plan. You want to ensure there’s money for golf (and shoes!) in reasonable amounts.
- Leave a comment below or email me (Max @ this domain) and tell me what you’ve done.
Links to good articles on creating a family mission
- The Art of Manliness – How to create a Family Mission Statement
- Focus on the Family (Christian) – Writing a Family Mission Statement
- The Art of Simple – Create a Family Purpose Statement
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