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Top 10 Sure-Fire Argument Starters in a Marriage

September 19, 2018

Another Way for week of September 14, 2018

Top 10 Sure-Fire Argument Starters in a Marriage

Our neighbors Harold and Willie, on their 70th anniversary.

We recently were privileged to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of our neighbors with a nice dinner out. What a milestone!

While it is great to focus on the love and beautiful times that help a couple grow their marriage for 70 years, I know that any couple which has been married 30, 40 or more years, have survived their share of arguments. If pushed, most of us would probably be able to name some sure-fire argument starters as a couple.

I posed that question recently on Facebook and I was not disappointed. I’ve changed almost all names here to protect the innocent (and maybe save an argument), but preserved the spontaneous wording of their Facebook posts:

1.     Money. Pamela was first up with a one-word response, “Money.” Nedra and several others named this also and Peter just posted a $. Daisy added a quote she’s heard, probably more than once: “You spent HOW much on WHAT??”

2.     In-laws or parents. Georgia posted five words: “You’re just like your mother.” Dan gave two twists on that: “This isn’t as good as my mother’s” and “That’s not the way Dad did it.” Lacey was totally in this camp with “My mom didn’t do it (whatever it may be) that way.”

3.     Chores. Rhonda named a big one for many of us: “Housework that isn’t getting done.” Sharon listed “Leaving ice cream/snack dishes in the sink overnight.” At that I was going “Uh, that would just make me happy the dishes got into the sink instead of staying on the counter, table, or coffee table.” Martha said this line starts arguments at her house: “I’m so glad you retired so you can finally get my Honey-Do list done”!!

4.     The “You always” or “You never” arguments. We all know it’s bad to start a conversation that way, but they slip out. David put it this way: “Anything not complimentary beginning with “You” or “You always…” Lucy said “Any use of you, always, never.”

5.     Disrespect. A number of “top arguments” fall into this category such as Pam’s lament, “Being ‘corrected’ in front of our boys.” Patty said “Speaking ill of any of your spouse’s family of origin” or, “commenting on how the other is driving!” Loretta put two words together that cause arguments in their marriage of over 40 years, “Being disrespectful or dismissive.” Any familiar territory here?

My romantic father and mother on my wedding day, flower boy Bob photobombing.

6.     Intimacy. One woman just put this painful argument out there: sex. A husband framed it, “When a spouse/partner wants ‘special’ attention, and the other one just isn’t interested or is really tired at the moment.” ‘Nuff said.

7.     Times you should be getting along great but it’s stressful. Jill wrote “Packing for a vacation with the kids.” Lucy said “Setting up the Christmas tree” and another couple dittoed that with “That was one of ours, too.”

8.     Cleaning the basement or garage. I can’t believe no one else posted this, but it is one of our worst ways to always, always, pick at each other.

9.     Hangry. Haven’t heard of that? I’ll give credit to the real gal, Gina for introducing me to this word meaning “Anger caused by hunger. In our vows I promised to try not to boil in, or discuss my anger with my husband until I’d eaten to make sure I was actually angry at something! Funny how much a granola bar can change your outlook on life!” We’ll remember that, Gina.

10.  Politics. Only one person offered this one, but everyone may be like me and my husband, generally avoiding the topic so it doesn’t get us mad.

It’s comforting to know that others are also very human and that we’re not alone in the skirmishes in a relationship. Next week we’ll look at what we can learn from this list, and how to preserve the good stuff!


Send stories or ask for my free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage.” Write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. After 51 years of marriage we have learned to dodge most of the items on the argument starter list but not without EFFORT. I remember the time Cliff told me he will stop putting me down in public, a relief. More recently, I stopped nagging him about the turn signal, “People will think an old codger is behind the wheel.” Problem solved when we got a new car after 15 years. Now arguments start mostly because one or both of us is tired or hangry.

    My pastor uncle used to advise couples, “Remember the three bears in your marriage: Bear, bear, and forebear. Still sound advice.

  2. Young husbands (wives?) seem to need to learn this trait early. Been there. My father had to give that tip to mine once upon a time. What a wonderful word to go along with forgiveness: forbearance.

    Your choice of the word “dodge” brings to mind a favorite line of my mother’s regarding cars but also can be applied to her marriage: we owned numerous Dodges in our family in the last 30-40 years and Mom would sometimes say “We’re a dodgy bunch”. Also applies to their approach to dealing with conflict, mostly quiet. That can be a good thing, or as we all know, not a healthy thing.

    Thanks for sharing. The thoughts roll on …

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