How to Choose Your Battles in Marriage

It is only natural for married couples to get into arguments, considering how interdependent their lives are. However, too many arguments � and over irrelevant issues � can be disruptive to the healthy functioning of a marriage. For that reason, it is important that couples are conscientious about what they do and do not choose to argue about. Follow these guidelines for how to choose your battles in marriage.


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    Determine what is really important. Be honest with yourself about how big a deal the issue really is for you, and pick your battles accordingly.
    • A good way to determine an issue's importance is to envision the future: days, weeks, months and years from now. If you see that the issue is a small one (that not addressing it won't have any lasting effect), then it is a good idea just to drop it. For example, it won't matter 10 years from now that your spouse didn't clean up after dinner, but it might matter that your spouse continuously overdraws the checking account.
    • Rate the issue on a scale of 1 (not that important) to 10 (absolutely must be dealt with). Choose your battles based on that scale. A good rule of thumb is to only fight for issues that are a 10 in importance, and let the rest go. Issues that rate a 10 should include anything that threatens your safety, self-esteem, security, frame of mind, social discourse or general functionality.
    • If you find that a particular issue is recurring � causing a regular strain on your marriage � then it is a good idea to consider the importance of that issue and to address it appropriately. This is a productive and responsive way of choosing your battles.
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    Consider the other side. You may feel that you are right � or that you have a point to make � but you should recognize that your spouse may feel the same way. There are always at least 2 sides to every issue, and a married couple needs to be considerate and understanding of that. Sometimes, just accepting that your spouse's viewpoint is as valid as yours is enough to dispel the need for an argument.
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    Keep in mind that you have faults, too, and that a large part of marriage is compromising and accepting each other at face value.
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    Avoid arguing for the wrong reasons. In many cases, choosing your battles may be as simple as identifying the reason behind your desire to argue in order to recognize the futility of pursuing the argument.
    • Pick your battles according to importance � not because you feel the need to be right.
    • It is not necessary or healthy to pursue a fight in order to get the last word in.
    • Don't argue just because you feel you've been challenged. It is inevitable that your spouse will disagree with you, hold an opposing opinion and/or question you at times. Choosing your battles just for the sake of defending your pride is counterproductive to having a healthy relationship with your spouse.
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    Learn to recognize your personal trigger points, as well as those of your spouse. If you find that small, seemingly meaningless occurrences tend to dredge up heavy emotions and incite memories of past transgressions, then something deep-seated and rooted in the past is likely the cause of current tensions. Instead of acting on the superficial issues, choose your battles in a way that targets the underlying causal issue.


  • If you and/or your spouse need help learning how to choose your battles wisely, then it is a good idea to seek marriage counseling. This is especially true if your arguments outweigh your agreements, and if you are having difficulty identifying the underlying causes of superficial arguments.


  • Beware of avoiding an important issue just for the sake of avoiding an argument. Just as it is important to pick your battles carefully, it is also important to address issues that could be poisoning the marriage. Choosing battles wisely isn't about avoiding battles altogether � it's about knowing when they're appropriate and necessary.

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Categories: Married Life