Ryan and I are certainly not pros at marriage, but we don't fight very often. I'm sure part of that is our personalities. Neither one of us enjoy confrontation, and we're much more likely to give each other the cold shoulder or a single snarky remark than to hurl insults at each other. But there are two things that I've found us saying that saves us from a lot of arguments.
1. "It Doesn't Matter"
Before you assume I'm telling you to blow off what your spouse wants to talk about, let me explain. When you spend a lot of time with someone, there are lots of opportunities for you to get in fights about absolutely nothing. Especially when one (or both) of you likes to be right. It could be something as simple as what year you went on that vacation to Hawaii or what dish you brought to the Memorial Day cookout last year. Really trivial, unimportant stuff. But all it takes is a little back and forth of you each trying to convince the other person that you're right, and things can get heated. So if Ryan says that we brought a dessert to the last cookout and I say "No, we brought mac and cheese, remember? We were a few minutes late because I was trying to make sure it was nice and hot when we left." And he says, "I really think you made dessert." The next thing one of us says should be "It doesn't matter."
Because it really doesn't matter. We can bring whatever dish we want to this year's cookout. We can go on with our reminiscing about our Hawaiian vacation without needing to know exactly what year it took place. Letting it go and moving on with the conversation diverts what would have been a stupid thing to fight about.
2. Share the Blame
Maybe your overflowing trash can gets ants or the laundry didn't get moved to the dryer and it smells like mildew. When something like this happens, there may be someone clearly to blame. Maybe it's always his job to take out the trash or maybe it's always your job to do the laundry. But is it really ALWAYS? Do you ever take out the trash? Does he ever do a load of laundry?
The answer is probably yes. So it's not necessarily all his fault or all your fault. So instead of saying "You didn't do this and now we have this problem," I try to say, "We didn't put the laundry in the dryer and now we have to run it again." It's OUR problem, not your problem. We are a team.
And when you say "we" instead of "you", it takes the accusing tone out of the sentence. It's hard to say "You didn't take out the trash and now we have ants" without sounding like you're upset at HIM and not just the situation.