Crow's-Feet Chronicles: How to argue like a veteran couple
By Cindy Baker Burnett
May 14, 2014
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Most young couples begin married life knowing very little about how to argue with each other and are forced to learn through trial and error.  Sadly, some of them never do learn, a good example being that couple on “The Waltons” who never fought about anything.  Consequently, they ended up with three or four hundred children. 

There is no need for this kind of tragedy.  Veteran married couples have, over the years, especially on long car trips, developed certain time-tested techniques that even an inexperienced person can use to turn any issue, no matter how minor, into the kind of vicious, drawn-out argument where you both spend a lot of time deliberately going through doors you don’t really need to go through, just so you can slam them viciously. 

When you get involved in marital arguing, the role model you want to bear in mind is World War I, which got started when some obscure nobleperson, Archduke Somebody, got assassinated way the heck over in the Balkans.  The next thing was that people in places as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio, were rushing off to war.  These were people who wouldn’t have known a Balkan if they woke up in bed with one, but they were willing to get shot at because of what happened there.  It’s the same with a good marriage argument.  If you really do it right, you should reach the point where neither of you has the vaguest recollection of what the original disagreement was, but both of you are willing to kill over it.  This is the kind of veteran marital relationship you young couples can develop, if you follow these proven techniques. 

The most important technique is:  Always be on the lookout for conversational openings that can lead to arguments!  If Ethel asked Willard not to leave his socks on the coffee table and Willard apologized and obliged, then he dropped the ball. 

What Willard should have done was to get the argument going by throwing the conversation to a completely different topic.  His response should have been something like:  “Oh yeah?  Well what about your old boyfriend, Cletus?” 

Ethel would probably say, “Huh?”  Then the fight would be on, with Willard bringing up the fact that Ethel flirted with an old flame from high school at the Throckmorton’s party.  

Ethel wouldn’t leave the dialogue with that---she’d throw him a curve with:  “I was flirting?  And I suppose you weren’t all over Mable?” 

Then Willard would run with the argument and take it to a whole new level with:  “I don’t see how you could have known what I was doing, since you spent the entire evening sucking up potato salad through your face.” 

See how effectively this veteran married couple handled the situation?  In just a few quick sentences, they went from a seemingly unpromising topic, socks, to a whole treasure trove of issues that they could debate and dredge up again for years to come. 

Ask me how I know these things.