Arguments are inevitable within any relationship. There are many legitimate differences of opinion that need to be resolved. Just as obvious, there is the question of who dominates whom. Men traditionally have the advantages of size, income and perhaps logic. Women, on the other hand, are more verbal. They learn bickering and argument from birth. Arguments will always find you.
She is more often than not the one to initiate an argument. There is a problem and it is your fault. You, you obtuse, oblivious male, did something wrong. You are wrong-footed from the start. She starts the argument. She had time to prepare. And she attempts to force you to fight it in the realm of emotion rather than logic. This leads to rule number one in arguing with women…
1. You Lose
Women are simply better at arguing. More verbal. They get a lot of practice arguing with their mothers. They play by different rules. They enjoy it more.
When an argument comes your way, duck it if you can. If not, move the argument towards male turf. Acknowledge that differences of opinion are nothing abnormal in a relationship. They are not a sign of trouble, just an indication that the topic needs to be discussed. Make her agree on rules of engagement.
Once you demonstrate that you are not afraid of discussion, but that you will insist on a fair fight, in the realm of logic rather than emotion, some issues will dissolve. If not, go to step two.
2. Recognize What You Argue About
Couples argue over major topics and bicker over small ones. Bigger ones may demand a resolution. Where should you live? How much should you spend for a house? Do you need a new car? These are amenable to a logical analysis. Your male strengths will be an asset as you tackle them. Men are usually better at soliciting expert opinions and analyzing options in writing or on a spreadsheet.
Make sure you have laid out the ground rules for arguing so you stay on track. She may be weaker in logic, but she is longer on cunning. Don’t get led astray. Assuming that you are the primary breadwinner and it is your money that you are talking about spending, you have the moral authority to lead the argument. Hang tough and fight fair.
The French call the housewife the “Général de l’intérieur,” in charge of matters concerning the household. No matter how good you may be in the kitchen, or how much your kids love you, your woman will not readily cede her primacy. Enter fights in these domains with trepidation.
Women feel a congenital compulsion to needle their men. The wise man will deflect the question with a laugh, a gentle non sequitur, or simply by silence. I offer an example:
“Sweetheart, where is the lid to Eddie’s lunchbox?”
“I don’t know. I left it right there on the counter after I washed it on Friday.”
“It wasn’t clean.”
“Okay – when I didn’t wash it Friday night.”
You may be the chef, preparing dinner for twelve that evening. Your wife waltzes into the kitchen, grabs one of the pots you have laid out, steps in front of you to get some water as you peel potatoes at the sink, and proceeds to make herself some macaroni and cheese. Do you say anything? Not if you are smart. Let it go.
3. Be Non-Communicative When It Serves You
Women accuse us of refusing to talk. Yes! We do it for good and honorable reasons. If you refuse to rise to the bait when they attempt to needle you, it keeps the peace. It benefits the relationship that you simply ignore small barbs.
If she is making a mountain out of molehill—about toilet seats, dribbling on the floor, not wiping up condensation on the windows—force her to escalate the trivial complaint into a major deal, then point out how petty it is.
4. A Man Never Remembers, A Woman Never Forgets
You need to practice making notes on your little contretemps. Although from the majestic heights of your male perspective they may appear to be nothing, they are. You will have to re-fight these battles over and over. It is good to have a reference. Not to be vicious but simply to protect yourself.
5. You Need A Geneva Convention
You, the logical one, need to craft the rules of engagement and enforce them. They are:
- If she wants it done her way, she should do it herself. It is fair to ask the guy to do a task but unfair to tell him how to do it. If she asks you to clean the kitchen, clean the kitchen. Don’t let her tell you what a crappy job you did. My ex-wife once came along after I had finished and, as I watched, cleaned the kitchen a second time. That was an insult. If she didn’t like my job, she was welcome to do it herself, but she can’t have it both ways.
- Another maxim: he who does all the work makes all the mistakes. She should be happy for what you do, not the fact that you do not do it perfectly. You, the male, will probably not criticize her when she does less than a perfect job on something. She will.
- Let her have her way on the little things. Tell her she gets to win 80% of the arguments so long as you get to pick your 20%.
- Both sides renounce ad hominem attacks. It is okay to disagree about whether or not the kid is sick enough to go to the pediatrician. It is not okay for her to imply that you are too stupid to recognize a disease when you see one, you are too lazy to go, or you don’t love the kid.
- Cursing and verbal abuse are not allowed. Women love to trot out statistics portraying themselves as victims of domestic violence. Actually, women initiate verbal and even physical abuse more than men. Don’t shrug it off. You are bigger and certainly capable of taking crap. That is the wrong answer in today’s age. No matter who started it, if it escalates it will be blamed on you. You be the first to call the counselor or cop.
As I was standing there, my former wife talked trash about me with a friend over the telephone. I pinched her bottom and she jumped. When she later accused me of abuse, I said that her verbal abuse was more damaging than my pinch. She never did that again—to my face.
Contempt is a good predictor of divorce. If your woman deplores you, it calls for a Plan B involving lawyers.
6. Recognize That Logic Is A Male Domain
Masculine logic is an asset in the workplace, but you won’t buy much in an argument with your wife. Emotion trumps logic. Do not even try to present a logical argument in areas in which there is not something immediate at stake. Her opinions on abortion, immigration, guns and vaccinations may be totally nonsensical. If it doesn’t affect you, leave it alone. When the issue is close to home, such as getting the kids vaccinated, get all of your ducks in a row logically, find as many allies as you can that she will respect, and go at it. But don’t be surprised if logic does not carry the day. You may just have to grit your teeth and pray that your unvaccinated kid does not come in contact with a TB-carrying refugee.
Women often don’t understand systematic things like arranging food in the refrigerator, putting leftovers in containers instead of stuffing the entire bowl in the refrigerator, or taking care of the knives so as not to dull them. Put up with it like you would a puppy that piddles. My dear mother gave my good knife to a door-to-door peddler who butchered it on a grindstone. She simply didn’t understand. My dear wife gave my salami, which she never eats, to the cat, on the pretext it was spoiled. She should have asked—but I should not have even brought it up. Women are like that.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away
Rather than get involved in an argument you can’t win—one involving emotion, illogical arguments or physical and verbal abuse, simply walk. Walk away proudly, with your head high. There are a couple of possible outcomes.
Women may take themselves very seriously at the time of the argument, but they can do an absolute turnabout with no embarrassment and not even recognizing that they have done so. A note to the wise—don’t point it out to them or you will indeed have an argument on your hands.
If she refuses to let it go, and challenges you for walking away to keep the peace, it may be time for you to reassess the entire relationship. She is unwilling to live together in peace, it is time to leave.
There is no way to avoid argument in a relationship. Recognize that men and women truly are from different planets. We see things differently. Ignore what you can and insist, when argue you must, on mutual respect and a fair fight.
Read More: Arguing With Dumb People