Dear Muslima Coaching,
My husband and I get along fine when we’re not arguing but as soon as we disagree over how to do something, we get into longwinded fights. I don’t know how to stop them. I think a large part of it is that he always wants his way and he never considers the good in anyone else’s ideas.
Sometimes we end up fighting for hours on end over how to deal with any silly issue. I get really frustrated at him and start raising my voice, amongst other things. It seems ridiculous to me and insensitive that he is willing to waste so much time on trying to prove his point. Do you have any advice?
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu,
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The most hated person in the sight of Allah is the most quarrelsome person.” (Bukhari) Disagreements are normal in any marriage and totally expected, but pointless, never-ending debates are not healthy and are very draining for the vitality of the relationship.
While it may seem comforting to blame your husband’s behavior for the reason of your constant division, it is definitely in your benefit to honestly consider if your reaction contributes to the problem too. When we deny the part that we play in our marital problems, it prevents us from finding a viable solution for them because we’re actively ignoring part of the equation. Arguments require two people – not one – but the great news is that it only takes one person to stop them, which is why your determination to put a halt on this bad habit is a fantastic development.
Try these practical tips to help ease your unending discord inshaAllah:
Resolve To React Differently
First, sincerely make tawba for any wrong that you may have committed, knowingly or unknowingly. When another person’s behavior upsets us (especially our husbands), it’s very easy to become defensive and vindicate our own shameless responses. Always keep in mind that Allah Most High knows what’s truly in our hearts and we will be asked about what we said and did, no matter who or what provoked our response. Avoid convincing yourself that any unIslamic behavior on your part is acceptable; if it’s unIslamic, it’s never acceptable. Instead of allowing your frustration to drive your reactions, take responsibility for yourself and make a decision that when skirmishes occur, you’re going to be the composed adult in the room; your husband will feed off of your resolute energy and learn from this great example. He will automatically feel a desire to ‘man up’ and compete with your good behavior. AlhamduliLlah Allah gives tawfiq when you command yourself to do the right and forbid yourself to do wrong for His sake.
Flip the Script
Secondly, admit to yourself that you do NOT have to respond immediately to his comments. If you often have a remark ready to shoot back at him during a conflict, then that’s also prolonging the heat between you two. It is quite possible to listen to what your husband says without much commentary, especially if you know that saying something at that particular moment will make matters worse. This requires practice, but it’s not as difficult as you think; in truth, when we first try to change bad habits in our marriages, it’s usually the imaginary barriers in our minds that hold us back more than the hardcore reality. Just like a frown can start a fight, a smile can join hearts, which means that it is possible for a tiny shift in behavior to stop a fight altogether.
Once you feel like you’ve heard enough, you can let your husband know that you hear him (which is different from saying that you agree with him) and that you want to politely excuse yourself to contemplate about what was said. During your break, it helps to relax the mind by engaging in a self-care activity or making dhikr. After you’ve carefully thought about how you feel, return to him and voice your wants and needs. In principle, there is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, but it must be said and done in a way that protects your friendship inshaAllah. When you speak with a calm and clear mind, you’re more likely to sound sensible than when you speak from a place of annoyance and anger.
Keep In Mind The Greater Goal
Lastly, remember that nurturing your relationship and keeping it strong is much more importantthan being right all the time. If what your husband suggests will not put you or your children in any immediate harm, then for the sake of your friendship, give his way a chance before knocking it down. Most women like to live in security, while most men are risk takers. When we hear concepts that take us out of our immediate comfort zone, we react from a place of fear and instantly turn down new ideas because we’re so anxious to end our worry about all of the possible negative outcomes. However, your husband may interpret your worry as baseless criticism for his ideas or you not trusting him to make good decisions. Thus, it may not be accurate to assume that your husband ‘always wants his way’ because maybe he feels like he has to keep proving himself to you so that you can see the worthiness of his take on things. Men want to feel like their opinions are automatically valued by their wives, and that their wives trust and believe in them to make decisions that are in everyone’s best interests. They don’t want to constantly be put in a position where they must justify their thoughts or intentions.
The gist is that when you set up an environment where each of you needs to prove the validity of your points in order for them to first be accepted and respected, it only creates a competitive dynamic that leads to longwinded arguments instead of a friendly discussion that leads to more intimacy. Get out of this mess by deciding what’s more important with the issue at-hand: your friendship or you being right. It’s actually what women with successful marriage do; they consistently choose to invest their energy into bettering their friendship rather than prevailing in a dispute. Not to mention, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I guarantee a house in Paradise for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right.” (Abu Dawud)
May Allah grant you ease in your affairs and give you tawfiq in manifesting your good intentions.
© Muslima Coaching, 2016.