The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What are some dos and don’ts in marital spats?

Based on clinical and research literature, the table below is a helpful guide to some of the things one should or should not say when arguing with a spouse:

Do Don’t
Focus on resolving the problem Focus on winning the argument
Discuss a specific problem Attack the entire relationship
Stick to the present as much as possible Bring up a list of past grievances
Focus on behavior not character Make the problem about your partner’s personality flaws
Clearly state your own feelings and thoughts Expect your partner to read your mind. Stop talking out of pride. Refuse to admit that your partner “got to you”
Accept responsibility for your own contribution to the problem Defensively refuse to acknowledge any contribution to the problem, invalidating your partner’s every point
Acknowledge the other person’s feelings Invalidate your partner’s emotional experience
Suggest solutions Expect your partner to “fix it” or “change” without specific suggestions
Invite the other person’s suggestions Insist on dictating the solution
Keep the problem between you and your partner Bring other people into the argument, declaring how many friends and family agree with you


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