Arguing In Front of Others

Arguing in Front of Others

Have you ever been with a married couple (whether it’s a relative or a friend) and they start arguing with each other as if you aren’t even with them? As the argument progresses, how do you feel? Awkward? Embarrassed for them and for you? Fidgety? Ill at ease? Closed in? Put upon? Uncomfortable? Yep! We do too, and so do most people. We’ve heard from other people who feel the same way.

Many times when a couple begins arguing together, it’s as if they put on blinders to those around them and they argue anyway. If a child or if children are there in the room with them, or if other family members or friends, or even if strangers are with them, they will still argue with each other as if no one else is around –as if no one else matters but them, and what concerns THEM!

We were recently talking with a couple whose adult "child" and spouse put them in this place. This young couple thinks nothing of breaking out into full-blown arguments with their parents in the room. The parents have expressed their feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment — wanting them to take their disagreements into a private place to settle, and yet the arguments still go on in their presence. The couple is convinced that this is "healthy" to air out their differences like this. But it isn’t healthy or mature, and it isn’t considerate to the others in the room when two marriage partners can’t settle their differences away from others.

We’ve also been with older relatives who put us in this place. A few times we’ve been in the car with them on long trips when the arguments would break out. I’ve felt like we were trapped in a cage (and essentially we were) and VERY uncomfortable the whole time. I even started joking with them the last time saying, "Don’t let me come up there and break you two apart, etc…" And yet they didn’t skip a beat and kept up with their arguing as if we weren’t even there. It’s bad enough that they do this when we’re with them in other places, but it’s even more discourteous to trap your guests in the middle of your arguments, when you’re in an automobile far from a place where they can get out and walk away.

I can’t help but think of the Bible verse in Philippians 2 that says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." How are you looking for the "interests of others" when they are stuck in the awkwardness of being in the middle of your arguments with each other? Be kind — take your arguments elsewhere.

I can’t say it any plainer than this, please don’t subject others to your arguments. Please, please, please look beyond your angry situation and S.T.O.P (See The Other People) who are around you when you and your spouse are arguing, and go elsewhere to settle your disagreements with each other.

The Bible says "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." And this includes a time to openly conflict with each other as husband and wife. It also includes a time when it’s best to NOT openly disagree with each other. One of those times when it is best to get away from others is during an argument. Please let me repeat this: S.T.O.P. … See The Other People — be considerate– and go somewhere else so they don’t have to be subjected to your arguing and fighting.

Also, S.T.O.P. … See The Other People — be considerate of EACH OTHER. As author James Bardot says, "Keep it private. Nobody wants their dirty laundry aired in front of others, and violating this rule becomes especially painful when our private affairs (and faults) are exposed by someone we love." So, not only do OTHER people NOT want to be part of your arguments with each other,  you shouldn’t expose your spouse to this invasion of privacy. It’s one thing that shows that you aren’t valuing your spouse as a marriage partner. (Even if he or she is the one who initiates the argument in front of others, I urge you to make it a matter of prayer to ask the Lord how to change this. Hopefully, you can find a way to defer your fights until you can be alone.)

Author Cherie Barboch, from the article, "Fighting Fair" gives the following advice: "Consider the time and place. While it can be difficult to hold your fury when you first realize you’ve been wronged, wait until you and your partner are alone and in a place and in a quiet space. If your partner is busy at work, out with friends, or in the midst of a family visit, wait until he or she can speak with you one on one — [alone]."

Gerald Foley, who wrote the article "Courage to Love When Marriage Hurts" gives this advice on the subject: "Do not involve other people. The argument is between the two of you. Young couples make the mistake of involving friends or parents (usually mothers). The damage comes later in several forms; 1) A parent will more likely remember the issue long after a couple has forgotten. 2) The respect and perception once held by a parent for a child’s spouse will decline. 3) A couple may feel uncomfortable facing the parent even after an incident has been resolved. 4) A parent’s natural reaction is to protect a child and this reaction may cause further damage to the relationship."

In an article titled "How to Fight Fairly" on an information web site, the following information is given: "Bringing others into a fight is not a fair way to fight. It is important that the fight take place between those directly involved and that neither party elicits the help of friends or family members to validate their position. It doesn’t matter how many other people agree with you, that does not necessarily make you right, so don’t involve others in your fight. This is not only fair to your partner but it is also not fair to those who are dragged into the argument. While you may have many people who agree with you and believe you are right, bringing them into the fight just isn’t fair and also isn’t effective."

The exception to this rule is when you are seeing a counselor or mentor(s) who are trying to help you get to a better place in your disagreements with each other. But this is an arranged time together, so it’s different. Some times a third party who is wise and mature, and/or professional, can be more objective and offer you counsel or advice on how to work through your disagreements in a healthier way.

The best advice is given in the Bible. It states in Ephesians 4, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that IT MAY BENEFIT THOSE WHO LISTEN." Proverbs 18:2 says, "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." And Titus 3:2 says, "Remind the people to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men." Those are good guidelines for us all!

Again, we remind you to please look beyond your angry situation and S.T.O.P … See The Other People who are around you when you and your spouse are arguing, and go elsewhere to settle your disagreements with each other. It will benefit ALL concerned.

Our love and prayers are with you,
Cindy and Steve Wright


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