Not every couple is so fortunate. After 20 years of marriage, my wife and I argue more about silly things - like leaving milk out - then we do serious things, like having an affair with the gardener or a secretary. Fortunately we've never done either. Many a psychologist recommends that a couple should create ground rules to follow when they have an argument: for example, no eye-gouging, no pushing or shoving. Seems a bit like professional wrestling to me. But the principal is valid enough. I think the only thing a psychologist will stress is that an argument should have no preconceived winner. If that were to happen, the scenario really would be like professional wrestling.
A good friend of ours is having some serious problems with his spouse. Or she with him, depending on one's point of view. They love each other enough to initiate marriage counceling. They found some counseling service in the Yellow Pages of all palaces, because they didn't want to risk meeting a psychologist that knew them. But that was a smart decision to make (I mean the idea of meeting a psychologist) and time has proved that.
The psychologist did an interesting thing: he had our friend and his wife sit back to back, facing away from each other. Each then had an opportunity to vent about what it was he or she found wrong with the other. A brilliant strategy if I do say so myself. By not facing each other, the psychologist created a less intimidating atmosphere. I'm not privy to what this couple said. But whatever it was, it was good enough to break the ice between the husband and wife. Perhaps opening up lines of communication that had been closed for years. Bravo to the psychologist for thinking of this. Well, maybe that is just another cliche practice, but if it works the rest is really of low importance.
Our friend's marriage is back on track. Of course now they argue about how much this marriage counseling is costing them. And I notice that they never seem to look at each other when they talk. I don't know if you can pin a price on a counseling service, especially if it saves your marriage. But eliminating the need to look at your spouse isn't necessarily a good thing either.
My daughter - who has aspirations of being a forensic scientist - is taking a psychology class in school. And as a result, she has become our resident psychologist at home. Not only is this a lot cheaper on my wallet, but my wife and I benefit from seeing our argument viewed through the eyes of an 11 year old girl. My kid's logic never fails. Her answer to most arguments is, "kiss and make up." You can't get better marriage counseling than that at any price.
Maybe my wife and I are just too busy doing other things to have any quality time left over for a really good argument. According to some psychologists, arguing apparently is good for a relationship. I don't know if I agree with that. I think if a couple needs to argue in order to establish dominance in their relationship they shouldn't be together in the first place. But hey, what do I know. I'm not a psychologist.