No one really enjoys quarreling. Most of us prefer to think that we can live in our families in perpetual peace and amity. But we have to realize that this is not real life. Real living is made up of serious issues, genuine feelings, and moments of conflict between those who think or feel one way, and those who think or feel another. Inside the family, the conflicts are more intense than anywhere, not because the people involved do not love each other, but because they do. Because of their affection for each other, they care deeply about what happens. An argument or quarrel brings an issue to a head-all have a chance to say what they feel, and the amount of heat they generate will show how strongly they feel it. It is a combustible situation, but the general heat can be warming. At least, everyone is communicating intensely with each other. Once they know exactly what the other one thinks, they have a good chance of straightening out the conflict.
Silence in a similar situation will often breed a hostile chill. It will not make the conflict go away. On the contrary. A woman who has been growing increasingly irritated with her husband because he has so many plans for his son’s future, but seems to ignore his daughter; a wife who feels that her husband has been spending too much time playing baseball and hardly ever sees the children; a woman who is beginning to believe that the family budget is being seriously distorted by her husband’s extravagance; none of these will feel her problems melt away when she resolves not to start an argument about them. Instead she will feel her unexpressed resentments growing. She will brood on and on about her feeling that the children are neglected in some way, without giving her husband a chance to answer her criticisms and, if he believes they have some point to them, changing. She is in effect, condemning him unheard. She will let her disapproval of his extravagance show clearly, if he comes home with some useless gift for her, without telling him why she disapproves, or what she would like to see the money spent on. The atmosphere will be heavy with accusation, though no accusation will have been made, and none can be answered.
If her husband gets furious at her chilly behavior, he will either wonder miserably what he has done, and feel uncomfortable and guilty, or try to pin down what she is feeling, only to be met with genteel stoniness. This way, the confusion grows, and soon the couple will be feeling much worse about each other than they would have if they brought their points of disagreement out into the open, and went over them thoroughly. In general, the rule is that it is best to face up to genuine conflicts directly, and not try to sweep them under the rug.
However, once that is said, it is also necessary to admit that there are some genuine disagreements in marriage that cannot be solved even by the most constructive argument. In some aspects of living, we all find that we are incompatible. Instead of spending a lifetime trying to convert each other, they accepted their differences, and cooperated in making the most of being complementary rather than alike. There are many differences that occur in a long married life that cannot be overcome. They simply have to be endured. Over these differences, it is just as well to be tolerant, civilized, and not pick quarrels.
When both of you know all that there is to know about a situation in your marriage, there is no point in going over it again. But in any day-to-day conflict that arises, the best course is to face up to it, and settle it out in the open.