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January 19, 2017

How to Avoid Locking Horns with Your Spouse

Question: Dr. Dobson, my wife and I sometimes get into fights when neither of us really wants to argue. I'm not even sure how it happens. We just find ourselves locking horns and then feeling bad about it later. Why can't we get along even when we want to?

Answer: To answer the question, I would need to know more about the circumstances that set off the two of you. The best I can do is describe one of the most common sources of conflict between people who are committed to each other. I call it experiencing "differing assumptions." Let me explain.

When husbands and wives engage one another in angry combat they often feel hurt, rejected, and assaulted by the other person. But when these battles are analyzed objectively, we often see that neither side really meant to wound the other. The pain resulted not from intentional insults but from the natural consequences of seeing things from different angles.

For example, a man might assume that Saturday is his day to play golf or watch a game on television because he worked hard all week and deserves a day off. Who could blame him? But his wife might justifiably assume that he should take the kids off her hands for a few hours because she's been wiping runny noses and changing diapers all week long. She deserved a break today and expected him to give it to her. Again, it's a pretty reasonable assumption. When these unique perspectives collide, about eight o'clock on Saturday morning, the sparks start to fly.

How can you avoid the stresses of differing assumptions at home? By making sure that you and your wife get no surprises. Most of us can cope with anything if we see it coming in time.

From Dr. Dobson's book Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide. 

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