Early in my marriage, I lost every argument.

I lost because I was approaching the disagreement in the wrong way. I approached every disagreement more concerned with my pride and my own selfish agenda than I was with protecting and serving my bride.

Since those painful, early mistakes that wounded my sweet wife and created unnecessary frustration for us both, I've learned one of the most powerful marriage principles on earth... In every disagreement with your spouse, there's not a "winner" and a "loser." You are united in everything, so you will either win together or lose together. You must work together with mutual respect to find a solution where you both win.

I've identified seven of the most common mistakes married couples make that keep them from winning together. I've made some of these mistakes in my own marriage, and I can personally testify to the pain they cause.

If you want to work through disagreements with your spouse in a healthy way, avoid these seven mistakes.

1. Saying "nothing is wrong" when something is wrong

Nothing ever got resolved though the passive-aggressive game of making your spouse guess what's wrong or silently punishing them for not knowing what's wrong already. Your spouse isn't a psychic. Clearly define the problem if you hope to clearly define a solution.

2. Vent to your friends about it

There are few things more toxic to a marriage than talking about all your marriage issues with people outside your marriage. It may feel good in the moment to vent, but it always creates a mess afterwards. It breaks your spouse's trust and does nothing to resolve your issues.

3. Post it on social media

As a rule, you'd be better off if you never posted anything online while you are angry. Once it's out there you can't take it back. Protect your marriage by refusing to air your dirty laundry online.

4. Bringing up old dirt

In a marriage where you "keep score" of old wrongs, you'll both end up losing. It's out-of-bounds to dig up old dirt and use it as ammunition in a disagreement.

5. Punishing your spouse

"Punishment" in marriage can be anything from giving the cold shoulder, to withholding sex, to going out of your way to make your spouse's life unpleasant. It's a toxic cycle that creates two losers and no winners.

6. Screaming, cussing or name-calling

We all get frustrated, but it's important to remember that our words have power, so don't use your words to destroy. The tone of your words will create the tone of your marriage.

7. Giving up on each other

The ultimate way to "lose" is to quit on each other.

This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

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