The Art of Arguing Well. Five Simple Ways to Disagree More Agreeably


Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. —Ephesians 4:29 NLT

As we enter the month of February, a month when love and romance are emphasized, let’s talk about one of the impediments to harmony in a marriage. The Argument. It’s a rare relationship that sails smoothly for decades without the turmoil of disagreement and disappointment that often spark the dreaded argument. I confess that Ray and I are not that rare exception. We argue. In the early years of our marriage, we argued … a lot.

Whenever a couple marries, adjustments have to be made. After all, each person is unique and has been raised in a home where certain behaviors were acceptable and others were not. Routines that were firmly established in one household weren’t even thought of in the other’s household growing up. Points of contention abound as two unique, diverse people start to blend and harmonize into one life spent together. Ray and I argued about everything from the correct size a meatball ought to be in spaghetti sauce to how long one should visit the in-laws. It was not pretty.

So, as I share these tips on how to argue well, they are offered from the perspective of a 65-year-old woman who has argued poorly and learned the hard way the negative consequences of most disagreements. Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:29 ought to be memorized by every couple before they are allowed to marry. It really would help! Our arguments are almost “nice” now, as we’ve learned more about how to share our feelings and wishes more kindly. I offer these tips, taken from our key Bible verse above, in the hopes they will also be useful to you. Perhaps you can learn a little sooner than we did!

  1. Foul language is never appropriate in an argument or any conversation, for that matter. Let’s speak courteously to one another and not degrade ourselves with words that are crude or ugly in any way. That kind of language just stirs up anger and disgust. It settles nothing.
  2. Abusive language is also out. We should never call each other “stupid” or “lazy” or “ridiculous.” The best way to argue is to remember you both are on the same team. The issue is a problem to be solved. The issue is not a person. One of our earliest arguments was about making the bed. It was important to me that the bed be made as quickly as possible. Ray? Well, he wasn’t a morning person, and he had to drink coffee and shower just to get his fuzzy brain to engage, and by then, it was time to get out the door to work. Making a bed was very low on his priority list. An abusive argument would be one where I accused him of being lazy, and he accused me of being ridiculous in my obsession with making beds. Instead, we needed to focus on the issue itself. Ought the bed to be made? And by whom? In the end, I made the bed because it was important to me. Ray did more nighttime chores when I was starting to be fuzzy-brained because he was more of a night owl. This worked so much better than endless wrangling over something that—let’s face it—was an extremely minor issue. Let’s look for solutions together and not play the blame game that only makes things worse.
  3. Everything we say should be good. Yikes! Paul is asking a lot of us, isn’t he? And since this is God’s inspired Word, it’s God asking this of us! We are to say only good things? We don’t get to be petty? We aren’t allowed to snipe at each other? Our words need to be filtered through that question: is this good? Wow. To do that, we have to be right with God, who alone can make us good. Here’s where one of the most valuable lessons comes into play. I’ve learned that talking to my loved one about an issue ought not to happen when I still feel the anger and emotion rising in my heart and mind. My words are not good when my attitude is poor. First, I need to calm down, maybe go for a walk. I need to remember that I don’t have to solve this instantly. It can wait until I’ve come to the Lord in prayer and asked for good motives and a pure heart toward the man to whom I pledged my life and heart. A day after the situation that irritated me is often the best time for me to address it. The anger and emotional detritus have settled, I’ve met with Jesus, and I can talk—with love—about what troubles me.
  4. Everything I say should be helpful. The goal of sharing an issue is to help both my husband and me toward better communication and actions in the future. It’s not to berate or hurt him. Are my words helpful, and will they enable us to make better decisions in the future? When those questions guide our conversation, the results are actually quite lovely.
  5. I should be an encouragement when I speak. If I have an irritation I need to share, I ought to also bring with me encouragement. We can be so fixated on a man who will never make the bed that we forget that that same man gets himself up every morning on time, despite his desire to sleep in, and contributes a paycheck to the running of the home, kills all the insects in the house because his wife is squeamish, and does the dishes every night. I have to remember all the good and encourage Ray with my gratitude. Like most humans, Ray and I both receive criticism much better from someone we know loves us and is blessed by us. Compliments and “noticing the good” should be plentiful, and arguing should be rare. When that’s the case, arguments are settled more quickly.

Disagreements are normal, and working through thorny issues ought to be expected in any relationship. However, when our hearts are aligned with God’s Word, and we take great advice to heart, like this advice in Ephesians 4, arguments can yield laughter and learning and better living for everyone. Let’s argue well this month, shall we?

Father, forgive me for the many times I have argued poorly, letting my selfishness rule my heart and hurting my Ray unnecessarily. I so desire to follow Your good plans for our lives in everything—especially in disagreements. Thank You, Lord, for Your Word that helps us live wisely. I’m grateful for all You teach me through it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,




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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Margaret Fowler
    February 6, 2024 12:13 am

    What a good message. We have been married 68 years, and still learning !! Truly thankful to God for our marriage, and yes, still learning patience with each other when we have different ideas. Praise the Lord for His patience with us.

    • Always learning – yes, me too!! SO thankful for the richness of God’s Word – still fresh to me, and teaching me because it’s His living love letter to His children.

  • Marlene McKenna
    February 6, 2024 6:12 pm

    Ah such a good word!
    Thank you for sharing what it looks like to live out Jesus’
    Kingdom in marriage.

    • Sharon Gamble
      February 6, 2024 7:47 pm

      So pleased it was helpful – it’s straight from THE Word … and remembering the wisdom in that passage has saved me from many a harsh word I would have regretted later.

  • Oh the joy we miss when we don’t do it Christ’s way! Thank you for your honesty. Just sent this to my married daughters! They’ll be blessed!

    • Sharon Gamble
      February 8, 2024 1:31 am

      So glad it was helpful and I so agree – doing it Christ’s way leads to joy. Thanks for the encouragement, Wendy.

  • This was such a Great message!
    I am a morning bed maker too!! So I can relate.
    Everything else in the house can be out of place but the beds have to be made.
    I Love this passage of Scripture and I will be copying it on an index card for us and the boys to memorize!
    Thank you!

    • High five to a morning bed maker like me!! Haha! So glad this was helpful. I love how full of wisdom that passage is. Yes, a great one to memorize and live by. Love you, Chelli.


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