What’s up ladies and gentlemen, Brad Browning here…. I’m a marriage coach and author
of the best-selling Mend the Marriage program. In this video, I’m going to share with you
several tips that will help you prevent and defuse arguments with your spouse.
For more tips on repairing and improving your marriage beyond what I’m about to talk about,
please watch the full video on my website, MarriageGuy.com… remember that a marriage
crisis doesn’t just go away on its own, so if your relationship is in jeopardy of
collapsing, please visit MarriageGuy.com and watch the video before things go downhill
OK, so I’m going to begin by talking about a few ways to prevent arguments with your
spouse. Later in the video, I’ll talk about what to do if you find yourself in a heated
dispute with your partner, but these first few tips are designed to help you avoid getting
into arguments in the first place.
Tip #1 - Pick Your Battles
Humans are imperfect creatures, and your spouse is no exception. It’s inevitable that your
partner is going to do or say certain t=hings that are going to irritate you… so it’s
important to take a step back and really evaluate what’s worth fighting for. Is it really
a huge issue if your husband forgets to water the plants? Do you really need to get into
a screaming match every time your wife leaves a few dirty dishes in the kitchen? At the
end of the day, you need to decide what you can live with, and what’s worth battling
Tip #2 - Apply My “30-minute Rule”
One of the most effective methods that I teach to my coaching clients is what I call the
“30 minute rule”. It’s a pretty simple concept, really… any time you have a complaint
or an issue you want to raise with your spouse that may lead to an argument, wait at least
30 minutes before you broach the subject with your partner.
As simple and dumb as this may sound, you’d be amazed at how often it can prevent an argument
from happening. Taking 30 minutes to think things over before bringing up a complaint
or issue allows you to cool down, step back, and take a look at the bigger picture. Sometimes
you may realize that whatever it was you were upset about isn’t worth an argument, and
other times it may just give you time to think about how you can discuss the topic with your
partner in a civilized, non-confrontational manner. Which brings me to my next point…
Tip #3 - Work Out A Plan In Advance
If you use the “30 minute rule” that I just talked about -- and I strongly recommend
you do give it a try -- then you’ll always have at least half an hour to think about
what you’re going to say before you dive into a heated discussion with your spouse.
I always suggest deciding exactly what you’re going to say to your spouse in advance…
if you and your spouse have serious problems with frequent arguing, then it may even be
worthwhile to write down what you’re going to say. If you stick to the script, you’ll
help to avoid saying something that can turn a civilized discussion into a major argument.
In addition to deciding in advance what you’re going to say, also think about what your ideal
outcome would look like… what are you trying to achieve? How are you going to achieve it?
You should enter any potential argument knowing the answers to each of these questions.
Tip #4 - Use The “3 Sentence Rule”
When you’ve got something on your mind and you want to vent those frustrations to your
spouse, limit yourself to a maximum of three sentences total. This will ensure you don’t
go on a rant that escalates the discussion as soon as it begins, and keeps you focused
on the specific topic at hand.
Let’s say, for example, that your spouse constantly makes excuses to avoid social gatherings
with your family. Understandably, this might upset you, and you may want to bring the subject
up with your partner. Using the 3-sentence rule, you might say something like:
“Look, I know you don’t really enjoy hanging out with my family, but they’re important
to me. I’d really like it if you would please try to come to our family get-togethers more
often. Even just two or three times per year would really mean a lot to me.”
That’s all you need to say to get your point across, really… and by keeping it brief
and using a polite, non-confrontational tone, you can keep emotions in check and usually
avoid a more serious argument.
Tip #5 - Begin With “I” Instead of “You”
A Harvard professor who specializes in marital conflict suggests using the word “I” whenever
you’re making a complaint to your spouse.
This one is especially useful when you’re saying something that your partner might call
“nagging”... if you have a complaint about something your spouse is doing -- leaving
dirty dishes in the kitchen, for instance -- then start your sentence with “I” when
you broach the subject.
As an example, you could say something like: “I know you’re busy in the mornings, but
I’d really appreciate it if you could put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher before
you leave for work.”
This may not seem like a particularly important strategy, but it has been proven to reduce
the likelihood of a discussion turning into a full-blown argument.
Ok, that’s five tips to prevent conflict in the first place… but what if you already
find yourself in an argument with your spouse? Maybe you’re in a fight because you didn’t
follow the tips I mentioned above, or maybe your spouse was the one who began yelling
and initiated the argument. Either way, let’s talk about some ways to defuse the conflict
and prevent it from really getting out of hand…
These are some of the things that make up what I call my “Dispute Defusing System”...
it’s a set of techniques I’ve developed based on both academic research and my own
experience working with coaching clients facing a marriage crisis. I am going to share a few
of these techniques in a second, but I encourage you to watch the full video on my website,
www.MarriageGuy.com, for more info on building a healthy, conflict-free marriage. That’s
OK, here are 3 things you can do to prevent an argument from getting out of hand...
#1 - Go To Bed Angry
Honestly, if I could bust open a single commonly-accepted myth about relationships, it would be the
idea that couples should never go to bed angry at one another. Quite frankly, that’s downright
Sure, no-one wants to go to bed mad at their spouse, but the simple fact of the matter
is that this can actually be a very effective means of defusing an argument.
If things are getting head during a discussion with your partner, and it looks like you’re
not going to reach a happy ending anytime soon, then it’s best to shut it down and
revisit the topic tomorrow. Sometimes, this can be enough to allow cooler heads to prevail,
making the topic go away altogether. Other times, it’s a much-needed break that can
calm tempers down so that you can revisit the discussion again the following day.
All you need to do to put this ‘overnight break’ into practice is to simply say something
like, “look, clearly we’re both getting emotional over this, so let’s both sleep
on it and re-visit the discussion tomorrow when you get home from work”.
This is actually a tactic that my wife and I use fairly often when we find ourselves
in a more serious disagreement, and more often than not it works like magic. So, let go of
the belief that you should ‘never go to bed angry’, because it’s actually a really
effective strategy to prevent arguments from getting out of hand.
#2 - Propose Potential Solutions
One of the biggest mistakes that I see my clients make when they’re arguing with their
spouses is that they offer lots of criticism and complaints, but no real solutions or suggestions
to make the problem go away.
Let’s go back to the example I mentioned earlier… say your spouse always avoids attending
social gatherings with your family, and you want him or her to join for the occasional
family dinner. Instead of simply saying, “I hate how you never come to my parent’s or
visit with my family” -- which is basically just whining -- try pairing every complaint
or criticism with a potential solution.
In this case, you might say something like: “I know you don’t really enjoy visiting
with my family, but it would be really great if you could try to come for dinner at my
parent’s every so often. How about we agree that you’ll come to dinner with my family
on special holidays, like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving?”
By suggesting a specific solution that would make you happy without forcing your spouse
to completely “cave” to your demands and do what he or she may not want to do, you’re
no longer simply nagging or complaining… now you’re outlining a potential solution
to the problem, making it clear that you’ve considered your partner’s feelings and thought
about ways to resolve things that don’t involve drastic changes for your spouse.
I always recommend pairing any complaint or criticism with an idea or even a partial idea
for how to come to a mutually agreeable solution. This often works very well, but even if your
partner doesn’t accept your suggestions, at least you’ve put in the effort and attempted
to work towards a positive outcome.
#3 - Bust Out Your Comedy Skills
This particular tip isn’t really appropriate for the most serious discussions, but if you’re
in an argument over something silly -- dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, for example
-- humour can be an incredibly effective way to defuse things and bring perspective to
All you have to do is make an appropriately-timed joke or amusing comment when things are getting
out of hand. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be that funny… a bad pun or silly joke
is usually fine, because it lightens the mood and helps both your and your partner see the
Let’s say you’re arguing with your spouse about whose job it is to do the dishes. When
things begin to spiral into a yelling match, you could make a joke about how you tried
to get the cat to help load the dishwasher but ‘things got pretty hair’... something
dumb like that. I know that’s not actually funny at all, really... but it’ll do the
job and hopefully get your partner to crack a smile.
Studies have proven that humour in general can dramatically calm tensions and allow both
parties in a conflict to back down, so give it a try next time you find yourself in an
This video is getting pretty long, so I’ll stop here for today… if you have questions
about how to prevent arguments in your marriage, feel free to leave them in the comments section
below this video and I’ll try to give you some advice. I also offer 1-on-1 marriage
coaching to a select number of clients… if you’re interested in learning more about
my personal coaching program, please visit MarriageGuy.com/Coaching.
Thanks very much for watching, and thanks for your likes and subscribes as well… the
support is very much appreciated.
OK, that’s it for now, see you next time!