How to Bicker with Skill

How To Bicker With Skill

Revised 1/6/20

We’ve lost the art of bickering. What does bickering mean? Do you know how to bicker with skill? With all this science-based couples therapy floating around, good marital bickering is becoming a lost art. That’s really unfortunate because if you can’t learn to bicker with skill, you’re going lose the more important arguments in the long run.

And who wants to be a loser?

Some People ask What is Bickering Going to Accomplish?… How about Winning?

Ok, so you ask what does bickering mean? Here’s a definition: bick·​er | \ ˈbi-kər verb 1. to argue about petty and trivial matters.

Good marital bickering has to be petty, small, and of little or no consequence.
It’s a fight about nothing. And since Gottman says most arguments are about nothing, doesn’t it make sense that you ought to learn how to bicker… like a boss?
Here are some essential tips for how you can learn to bicker with skill and rule the roost once and for all!

Essential Tips to Bicker With Skill

  • Be Vague and Unclear in Your Communication. To guarantee effective miscommunication, send ambiguous messages to your partner. Keep them guessing about what is really bothering you. If they ask, just say “nothing.” You’ll see just how quickly they give up on you. If they really cared, they’d just read your mind. But they’re way too selfish even to bother. So why tell them?
  • Avoid the Near Occasion of Clarity. An excellent technique to avoid clarity is to stop paraphrasing what you’ve just heard your partner say. Paraphrasing is a waste of time. You already know damn well what they meant. Their insincere request to slow down the conversation for clarity is just an excuse for them to buy time to make a stronger argument. Don’t fall for this ploy.
  • When You Disagree…Pile On The Resentments!  James Taylor had it right…“I’m a steamroller baby…I’m going to roll all over you!  “Kitchen Sinking” is an effective way to let your partner know all the resentments you have been carefully storing up. Let it rip. Hammer them with one thing after another. I mean, if you’re going to go through all the trouble to bicker…why not get it all out at once?

To Bicker With Skill Means Fighting to Win!

  • Don’t Ask for What You Want. They already know, and they have no intention of giving it to you anyway.

what-does-bickering-mean?

  • Validation is for Parking… Not For Partners. One of the main ways to bicker with skill is to escalate the argument into a fight. Let frustration build. If you’re feeling unheard…why waste your time listening?
  • Empathy is for Chumps. When they are asking you to look at things from their point of view, they’re just trying to win the argument. Don’t buy the “can’t you see this from my point of view?” crap. Remember if they win…you lose. And you don’t want to lose… do you? Emotional Gridlock is better than losing.
  • Being Calm and Polite is for Chumps.  If things get hot, it means they’re running out of things to say, and victory is within reach! To bicker with skill is to be loud and proud! Put your partner on the defensive! Then complain about how defensive they are. Sooner or later, they’ll see who’s right, and we both know it’s you! Use sarcasm to get under their skin. Someone has to win this fight. Make sure it’s you!

bicker-with-skill

  • Go Silent and Stonewall. Men stonewall naturally for a reason. It’s the right thing to do. If things get hot, don’t ask for a time-out. Just ignore everything. It’s fun to watch your partner sputter and rage, isn’t it? And you can just hang back and be cool-hand Luke.
  • Or Keep Screaming. When your partner stonewalls…ratchet up the criticism. Give them something they can’t ignore.
  • Carpe Diem. The ancient Romans said it best. “Seize the Day!” If you want to really bicker with skill, you need to start having fights about nothing.

What Does to Bicker With Skill Mean?

Winning!

Your marriage has a backdrop, a subtext, like a kitchen sink filling up with the dirty dishes of resentments and hurt feelings. And your kitchen sink is overflowing now, isn’t it?

And you don’t forget those dirty dishes… no siree!

It’s little things trigger you, and remind you of this unresolved hurt and resentment. Remember the Zeigarnik Effect. And because, being human, you and your partner tend to remember negative and unfinished emotional experiences more vividly than positive ones, an attachment injury, or a betrayal tends to leave you both stuck. Repair is for suckers. You either win or you lose.

If you can bicker with skill, especially about nothing, in particular, you can chase your tail and get the exhilarating feeling that maybe you’re getting somewhere. You’re not, of course…but why should you have to be the one to point that out?

Are You Tired Of Your Nervous System Giving You Bad Advice Like This?

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About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.