How to Stop Fighting Your Spouse: Seven Steps to Win-Win Solutions in Marriage

By Bill Arbuckle
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If you and your spouse want to stop fighting, then it's time to remember that you and your spouse are a team.

It seems like every high school physical education teacher has a list of things they have to say each class period. Things like, “one more lap,” or “No pain, no gain,” and their favorite phrase of all, “There’s no I in team.” While everyone groans when the PE teacher makes one of those statements, deep down, they all realize that those old slogans apply to the world outside the gym. Especially that last one: “There is no I in team.” It’s true on the basketball court, the gridiron and the baseball diamond. It’s also true in every part of our lives — especially our marriages. And, when you think of it, a marriage is a lot like a team: Either the whole team wins or the whole team loses. If you and your spouse want to stop fighting, then it’s time to remember that you and your spouse are a team.

Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family, says that while marriage is a “team sport,” husbands and wives sometimes treat it like an individual competition. One spouse wins a fight, the other one loses. One person makes a decision but forgets that the other one wants to add input. In most cases, it’s not intentional. We make a decision and move on. Win a few … lose a few, right?

Marriage is a team sport

“There’s no win-lose situation in a marriage,” Smalley says. “We’re on the same team, so it should always be a win-win solution. We need to figure out a solution that feels good for both of us.”

But what about a compromise? We could both agree to give up a bit here and there. Again, Smalley says it’s not the best choice. “When couples compromise, it feels like they’re moving in opposite directions. But they should move in a way that they both feel good about. When couples compromise, someone always feels compromised. When they compromise, someone loses, and the team is affected.”

Stop fighting your spouse and try these seven things

So, how can a couple stop fighting and start finding win-win solutions? Smalley shares a simple, seven-step process to use when you and your spouse are trying to make a big decision.

  • Invoke a “no losers” policy. Ask, “Does this work for both of us?”
  • Get to the heart of the issue by asking your spouse what they really desire. Maybe they just want to be heard. Maybe they’re seeking validation. Go the extra mile to get the real answer.
  • Pray for unity and God’s will. Ask God if He has an opinion and if He will show you the right answer.
  • Brainstorm options.
  • Evaluate your options and pick one you both feel good about.
  • Try it.
  • Reevaluate your decision and make changes as necessary.

Don’t give up

You may have to go through the list a few times before the process feels natural. But don’t get frustrated if you can’t remember all the steps. No pain, no gain, right? Remember that the goal is that you and your spouse work together as a team. After all, there’s no I in team. Now, as your PE teacher would say, “Go run one more lap around the track.”


© 2019 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Originally published on

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