Believe it or not, marriage and arguments do not have to go hand-in-hand. In her new book, The Argument-Free Marriage: 28 Days to Creating the Marriage You've Always Wanted With the Spouse You Already Have (Thomas Nelson), marriage blogger and best-selling author Fawn Weaver shows couples how to win at love without a fight. ESSENCE asked Annett and Byron Davis, who’ve been happily married for nearly 25 years, to read Weaver’s book and give a few of her methods a try. They nailed it!
ANNETT AND BYRON DAVIS
AGES: 42 and 45
LOCATION: Valencia, CA
OCCUPATIONS: Retired Professional Athlete and Career Coach
KIDS: Two children, ages 14 and 10
TOGETHER: 24 years
MARRIED: 18 years
What they argue about most: "The times we have tension are tied to our moods, hunger levels or tiredness," Annett admits. "These things can be triggers."
Their goals: Recognize triggers and argue less about household chores.
Their strengths: "We laugh a lot and extend grace toward each other," Byron says. "We complement each other extremely well," adds Annett.
• Delay your reaction. Avoid responding to minor annoyances right away, and don't have tough conversations when you're tired.
• Look in the mirror. Shift the focus from your spouse's behavior to what your role could be in the disagreement and how you may have hurt your partner's feelings or caused the miscommunication.
THE HARD PART:
"My timing can sometimes be off, and my joking or pressing can upset Annett," Byron says. "If either of us is tired or stressed or does not feel "heard," that increases the tension, too."
She says: "I focused on not sweating the small stuff. Instead of getting uptight because something he said rubbed me wrong, I let it go. We have a deal in our house where I cook delicious, healthy meals and he washes the dishes. Usually the sight of unwashed dishes makes me irritated, but I practiced seeing things from his vantage point and I actually had compassion for him. He works a long, hard day, and he likes to be present at our kids' track practice almost every night, which leaves him about one hour of free time in the evenings. That's not a lot of time. I realize that I need to cut him some slack. I started being grateful for him wanting to be an active dad and doing an awesome job of providing instead of being upset about dishes. They are just dishes!"
He says: "Not letting molehills become mountains has allowed us to never let the sun go down on our anger without understanding the core issues and how each person feels."
WEAVER'S NOTES: The goal isn't perfection, it's progress. If couples are willing to see their marriage and spouse from a different vantage point, they can move toward their desired relationship.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.