8 Mistakes Wives Make Make That Lead to Arguments

couple arguing

You know that moment when you go from "having a discussion" to having an argument? You love each other. Neither of you wants a fight. So how did you get here? The road to a couples conflict is often paved with little mistakes, ones both of you make. But there are a few mistakes women seem to make more often than men do.


Sometimes conflicts begin when there's something we want from our spouse -- but the way we go about it backfires. It doesn't have to be that way. Here's a few roadblocks to be aware of the next time you want to initiate what could be a heavy conversation.

1. Exaggerating what you want.

What you say: "I need an hour Saturday mornings to myself or I'm seriously going to have a complete mental breakdown!"

"The fear that you may not get what you want may cause you to say you want more than you really do, or talk like your life depends on it," says Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. This can make your husband feel emotionally manipulated, or it could make what you want sound unattainable.

Say instead: "It would mean a lot to me if I could spend an hour alone, undisturbed on Saturday mornings."

2. Not saying what you want.

What you say: "Nothing's the matter. I'm fine. Really." OR: "I kind of wish you'd fill the gas tank yourself sometimes or whatever, but it's not really a big deal."

Some women won't say what they really want (or at least they understate it) out of fear that they won't get it, or that their husband will be unhappy with the request. Tessina says if you don't get it out there, "you'll resent not getting what you want."

Say instead: "Sweetie, could you please check the gas tank whenever you're in the car and fill it if it's at a quarter full?"

3. Building an argument for what you want.

What you say: "You have to start cleaning the toilet because it's always YOUR mess and because Donna's husband cleans their toilet and because ..."

Sometimes we feel unworthy or unjustified in asking for what we need -- and we overcompensate by flooding our partner with a long list of justifications. "This can provoke your partner to object and argue in return rather than listen," says Tessina.

Say instead: "Babe, I'd really, really appreciate it if you could take over cleaning the toilet from now on."

4. Whining.

What you say: "I see your socks and underwear all over the floor and I'm SICK OF IT!"

"Women need to know how to ask men for what they want directly, and in a rational, not emotional manner," Tessina says. So instead of complaining, "I do everything around here!" simply make a request: "Honey, will you take out the garbage?" Be nice about it.

Say instead: "Hey, could you please take a quick moment and pick up your socks and underwear?"

5. Beating a dead horse.

What you say: "Oh great, this argument again. You expect me to run this household on your ridiculously unrealistic budget!" 

If you find yourself running over the same ground again, stop. See if you can get at the problem through a different approach. And if you can't, Tessina advises, get help from a professional (a counselor or clergy member) who isn't emotionally involved.

Say instead: "It looks like we're not seeing eye to eye on the budget issue again. Why don't I set up an appointment with a family counselor and see if they can help us find a solution that will satisfy us both."

6. Getting caught up in emotions.

What you say: (Crying) "You just don't GET IT! Never #$%&ing mind, okay? You *@#hole!"

We ladies, we feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS, don't we? And men do, too. It's natural, Tessina says. "However, when either or both of you is upset, irrational, or reactive, you aren't communicating. You cannot think clearly when you are upset and flooded with 'fight or flight' hormones." If you want to solve a problem, stop and take a break until you've calmed down.

Say instead: "I'm really upset right now and I don't want to say something I'll regret. I'm putting myself in time-out for a few. Let's pick this back up when I'm calmer."

7. Not paying attention to how your words affect your husband.


Tessina advocates for what she calls "attentive speaking." "As you're talking, watch your partner's face, eyes, and body language to see how what you're saying is being received." If something seems off, check if there's been a misunderstanding or miscommunication by asking questions.

Say instead: "... So that's how I feel. But what do you think? Do you agree? How do you feel about this?"

8. Talking too much and not listening enough. Since women are typically more verbal, we have the tendency to do all the talking. "Resist the impulse," Tessina says, "and give him time to talk." Don't be afraid to sit in silence. Let him think and then fill in that pause. Remember to practice active listening ("so what I hear you saying is ..."). And let go of your agenda. "Stop and think whether you want to be right or you want to solve the problem," Tessina advises. "Trying to be right will not get you where you want to go."

Have you noticed yourself doing any of these? Does your husband do any of them, too?


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