men.msn.com put out this article by Laurence Stains, co-author of "The Good Luck Book." It's obviously an article for men, but I found it super fascinating.
Is this how the man is thinking?
**Unfotunately it was too long. Here's my abbreviated version. I just removed the extra lines and added images. (Click here for original article).
How to fight with your wife and stay married.
By Laurence Stains
I recently spent 3 days with marriage experts, watching couples fight. The arguments were all on tape, but the participants were real couples having real fights. One thing became very clear: Fighting is a waste of time. Nobody wins. Everyone looks pathetic.
Every [relationship] has its disagreements, and we all argue about the same handful of issues. That doesn't matter. What matters is how we argue. And if the pattern is destructive, bad feelings crowd good ones, until each partner feels that an opportunity to be with the other is a chance to be hassled instead of loved and supported.
Five strategies for keeping your arguments under control:
1. Stay Off the Escalator
Then there’s "escalation". Even though you and your [partner] may start out arguing about something small, inevitably tempers can flare, voices get louder, and that one "little thing" becomes a heated exchange of BIG threats.
To avoid such encounters try "active listening," in which partners take turns talking and paraphrasing what the other is telling them ("What I hear you saying is . . ."). Yes, you'll feel dorky and self-conscious, but in a way that's the point. Active listening slows you down, makes you listen to what the other person is really saying, and stops you from blasting away with both barrels.
What if you're willing to stay on fighting's first floor, but your wife is the one constantly hopping on the escalator?
Do not tell her to calm down. That just makes you come off as patronizing, which fuels her anger. Instead, you make the effort to calm down. Keep your expression serious and say something like, "How about if I just listen to you for a few minutes, and you can tell me what you're thinking."
------- OMG!!! Ha ha ha! CAN YOU IMAGINE if some guy actually said that?!! It would T-O-T-A-L-L-Y blow my mind. hahahaha! -------
2. Be Her Mirror
Lay off these tricks. And if your [partner] slings one of those personal assaults your way, call her bluff. She's saying horrible things, but she doesn't really mean it. (If she did, she'd be gone by now.)
When your wife is on the attack, paraphrase her. Gently reflect what she's saying so she can hear it. You could say, "Let me get this right. You think I've never really cared about you at all?"
Just be sure to sound sincere, not sarcastic. If you can do this, it's like holding up a mirror, which is gentler, and far more effective than saying, "Look in the mirror, bitch."
3. Don't Dis Her Memory
Often, in the heat of an argument, the first thing that each partner will try to invalidate is the other's memory. If it turns into a who-remembers-it-better shouting match don't respond in kind. You'll only imply that her memory is more defective than yours (which it may be, but . . . ). Instead, say this: "I'm not sure what I said. What I meant was. . . ."
The point: It doesn't really matter who remembers it better. "Bring it into the present and stop arguing about what was said or not said."
4. Don't Let Her Read Your Mind
If she claims you were secretly hoping her mother wouldn't stay all weekend, you could flat out say, "Don't read my mind." ..But that's risky. You're labeling her behavior, and that could be dynamite. Instead, try this: "That's not what I was thinking. Can I please just tell you what I was thinking?"
You? Thinking? The shock might be so great she'll drop her gloves.
5. Don't Put a Sock in It
Markman and Stanley's third fighting danger sign, "withdrawal", involves a clear difference between the genders. Women value any interaction in a relationship, even if it's negative. Men tend to value instrumental, problem-solving interactions and shut down when the volume goes up. Our physical response to the stress of yet another argument is the classic fight-or-flight reaction, and most men take flight. Especially if she's the verbally skilled one in the [relationship]—and most women have been a step ahead of us verbally since preschool.
All this leads to a lethal dynamic: She brings up a problem; you don't want to talk about it. She gets angry; you fear more conflict and close up tighter. She interprets that to mean you're detaching from the relationship. (This scenario has been noted by marriage experts for its reliability in predicting marital instability and divorce.)
"The biggest mistake women make is getting angry at us," says Markman. It fails to solve the conflict and succeeds only in eroding the entire [relationship]. Here's what you can do about it. The next time you withdraw and she starts yelling about your pushing her away, say something like, "I don't want to shut you out. But I hate to fight with you."
The exact words are unimportant. Just make her realize that you're not pulling away from her (the standard rap on men). You're just avoiding conflict. The first time you say this will be a paradigm shift in your relationship, she'll be more affected by your change than the wording of it.
In fact, your partner may be so stunned that the fight will stop right there. Make-up sex, anyone?