Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winning an argument with the spouse

- by KParthasarathi 27 Jan 2009
Sometimes we do not say what is in our mind for fear of hurting people. This silence can cause problems. Contrarily we tell immediately what is in our mind and this also can create misunderstandings. What do we do? There is no hard and fast rule. There is a time and place for everything. A wrong timing or place can do harm to relationship.
Sharmila did not mean to hurt Sanjay.Yet when he came from office and went straight to give her a bear hug, she said, “Sanjay, you smell a lot. Take a wash and change your dress before you come near me. Sorry, don’t take me amiss.”
It was a truthful statement as he was stinking after the long drive in the afternoon to the project site. The ‘sorry’ did little to assuage the hurt in Sanjay.He looked at her with anger in his eyes and moved away.Sharmila did not expect him to react this way to what she considered a reasonable comment. She was right but chose a wrong moment especially when he was wishing to express his love for her after a long day. She could have mentioned later when they watched TV after dinner.
When he came after the bath, he did not go near her but sat on the sofa to watch TV. She knew he was upset. When she took a cup of tea that he usually took, he declined saying he didn’t need it.
“Why are you angry? Even the kids have complained that you stink. You know I am your well wisher and if I don’t tell you, who will? Your friends, you must have noticed, are probably keeping away from you” said Sharmila. This made matters worse. The act of deriving support from the statements of children and an insinuation that friends are possibly keeping away infuriated him. He refused to believe what he considered a hearsay statement from the kids.
He blurted out in anger “I have not been telling you not wishing to hurt your felicity that every time I come near you, your mouth repels me. You don’t brush your teeth well. Often I feel like throwing up. Being considerate, I have been putting up with you. Don’t think you are a paragon of cleanliness and personal hygiene.”
“Oh, you talk like this. Do you know the sleepless nights I suffer from with your loud nonstop snoring? Have I ever mentioned about this even once? How heartless you can be accusing me with nonsense when I brush my teeth twice daily?”
What started an innocuous statement had graduated into full blown mutual possibly exaggerated accusations and resulted in both going to bed without their dinner.
There was no attempt on both sides to understand each other. The issues were never dealt with patiently at anytime but started as accusations. Instead of indulging in ridicule or sarcasm, there should have been a friendly chat when both were in happy mood and in receptive mood to other’s view points. It must be agreed by both that the arguments resulted from a real issue that had to be resolved. Putting up with sweat and smell however close the couple might be is certainly not conducive for bonding. The initial dislike may run the risk of spiraling into incompatibility. The entire unpleasant situation could have been avoided had care been taken about timing and also either of them ending the argument by some acceptance of some responsibility. Ego has no place in close relationships.
Some tactics may help.
See the purpose behind the accusation or argument. If the intention is honest and shows a genuine concern from the accuser, accept it with grace and address it in a comfortable manner.
Avoid ridicule, sarcasm, and offending tone. The purpose of the argument is lost if anger is provoked without eliciting a proper response to the message that is conveyed.
Never resort to making others agree that you were right and that the mistake lay with them. Just leave the message directly in pleasant tone which would be surely be taken note of.
May be if all these things fail, it may be necessary to show resentment and show anger to make others know that you are interested in them and care for them. But that should be the last resort. Expressing resentment is preferable than suffering in silence and allowing the chasm to grow wider. In some cases anger may actually trigger affection and emotional closeness too.


  1. your views are always come up with a write up, just when i need it:) what u said is true not only for husband and wife but for all relationships. But unfortunately when emotions dominate, rationality takes a back seat:) One should focus on controlling negative emotions

  2. a true fact n well writtn....
    ders olwas problm due to misundrstndings and wrong timings....
    hmm.....well,unfortunately, nced it bt i can undrstnd wat it feels.....

  3. Thank you both for your nice comments.They spur me to write more.

  4. A very useful article for those you believe in meaningful relationships. Thanks and best wishes.

  5. like every other posts, nicely written, and timely.

  6. Whenever I read your article I remember Solomon Papaiya who tells stories from Tamil literature.

    A lot of sense, apt and touches the heart of every reader.

    Extraordinary articulation.

  7. Ayesha,Shravan & Girivasan,
    Thanks.Glad you liked the article.

  8. A well written and an extremely useful article. Its gives a strong message for couples especially. A honest feedback usually from those closest and who care the most are unfortunately not taken in the right light and ends up in bitterness. Its important to take it in the right spirit and think that those who wish well for us are the ones who tend to be brutally honest instead of backbiting.

  9. The worst thing is when people ask you for an honest opinion and then blow a fuse on your honesty!That's really frustrating. Thanks for the nice post :)

  10. Thank you Swetha & Sana for the nice words.

  11. A very nicely written post that rings totally true...

  12. Thanks,Jinju,for visiting my blog.Do come again and again

  13. It need not be spouse.
    In general this topic brings one point to mind.
    In arguments........if you win you lose a good friend
    and if you lose you win an enemy.
    Nice msg..thanks for sharing