• Touch tones down the tension. Reach out and grab the other person's hand. Or, like we do, offer the other person your pinky finger. That's like saying "I know you don't feel like holding my hand right now, but will you take just my finger?" It's humbling. And your spouse might need that. That move of Hugh's softens me every time.

  • Practice gentleness. Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Harsh words come naturally, and are quick on the tongue. But gentleness can be practiced and rehearsed so it's prepared and ready to serve up at the appropriate time.

  • Make your spouse laugh. Hugh will pull a geek face on me and it never fails to make me smile.

  • Looking back now, in all fairness, it was the dinner hour and we were each probably just as hungry and grumpy as the other. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt might be helpful in pulling the two of you closer together. When things get tense, try offering an extra touch or just flat out admitting you were wrong. Love covers a multitude of sins.

    Cindi and Hugh McMenamin have served actively in ministry together for more than 20 years - he as a senior pastor and she as a pastor's wife, national speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone and Women on the Edge. They recently co-authored When Couples Walk Together, of which this article is an excerpt. Hugh and Cindi live in Southern California and have a grown daughter, Dana. For more on their ministry or for free resources to help your marriage,  see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.