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A Simple Rule for Handling Disagreements Successfully

Do you live in a peaceful home? Or do you and your spouse seem to argue and yell about everything? Did you know there is something you can do in your relationship that can transform it from contentious to serene?

Early in our dating relationship, my wife and I set one ground rule for how we would handle disagreements and any other problems that arose. That rule was very simple — we were not allowed to yell at each other.

Of course, we broke the rule periodically. But because we knew it was unacceptable, doing so caused pretty serious consequences. I remember one time I raised my voice at my wife and it literally stunned her. I could tell by her reaction that I had crossed the line.

Through the years, this rule has stuck. But not only that, it has really guided our relationship with each other (and even with our children). Why? Because we learned that yelling at each other was disrespectful and degrading. We also hated that it seemed to make the problem we were dealing with even worse. It showed that we were willing to drive the other person down in order to get our point across.

It also encouraged a “win at all costs” attitude, which is selfish at its core. And, when we did yell, it never solved any of our problems with a godly solution. If I won an argument by yelling, the outcome was rarely biblical. One thing I noticed about my own heart was that yelling was a way to distract her from the real problem. This was a big problem when I knew she was right, but I was not willing to admit my own fault.

While the rule started out as a law in our relationship, it has become a real desire and expression of grace. It has taken time, but the law actually taught us about grace in ways we never expected. It wasn’t until a few years after making the rule that I read James 4:1: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”

So the next time you feel your tone of voice getting out of control, ask yourself if your passions are taking over or if you’re solving the problem with your spouse’s best interest and, more importantly, the Lord’s will at heart. Doing so can do wonders for the emotional climate of your home.

Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom’s Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit and sign up for this free e-zine.