Fighting in Marriage
Before I got married, I was a little fearful of what was to come. I don’t know why, but I thought that when you get married, you start to fight over everything! Maybe it’s because of the media, I’m not sure. I just thought that when you get married, you suddenly become super passionate about everything and all hell would break loose! One of my friends wrote me a note for my bridal shower with words of advice. She said,
“Don’t throw your phone down violently when in the middle of a fight like me…I broke my phone that way!”
When I read that, I thought, “Oh my goodness! Is that what marriage does to people?!”
For our wedding, we received a bottle of champagne as a gift. My husband had the brilliant idea of saving it until we had our first fight. He said we would pop the bubbly to celebrate our first fight and thereby release the tension in the argument! Sounded like a great idea to me because I was anxiously anticipating our first fight, so we waited…
Next thing you know, it was our one-year anniversary and we hadn’t opened the bottle of champagne yet! This is when, I realized, wow…we really don’t fight! This is not to say that we don’t have disagreements or conflicts…
In our household, we have productive conflicts. In a conflict, there will be disagreement and different points of view, possibly some tension, but it is never a heated argument. There is no temper, raised voices, slamming doors, or running out of the house. ALSO, this doesn’t mean we avoid the issue altogether and passively move on. Rather, the point is to address the issue. If one of us has done, said, or thought something wrong, then we need to correct it. We are a team, in it together.
We Are a Team
Imagine you have a child who plays a team sport. You and the coach would probably take issue if your child yelled at their teammate, got into a loud shouting match, argued, shoved them, or spoke with an attitude. If the coach saw discord between teammates, they would say something to the team members, right? There would be a conversation about the issue, and there would be another talk about how the team treats one another. Why would it be any different between husband and wife? You are a TEAM – two become one. Therefore, when a conflict arises, you should not be at odds with each other. The goal of the conflict is to get back in alignment, unity, and experience reconciliation.
Tips on How to Have a Productive Conflict:
1.) Actively Listen. When you are upset with your spouse and you didn’t get your way, it’s easy to think of all the things you have to say. Instead, take a moment and listen to what your partner has to say. The most important part is to actually listen. Don’t think about your point of view, what you have to say, or your rebuttal. Listen to the words coming out of their mouth and maintain eye contact!!
2.) Be Respectful. Don’t belittle your spouse or talk down to them. There should NEVER be any name-calling or insulting. Remember – you are on the same team! You do not say mean or hateful things to your teammate! If they are on your team, you want to encourage them toward the team goal, not break them down! Even if you do not agree with your spouse, you never have a reason or excuse to be unkind. This is your spouse. They are basically you because two become one (Genesis 3:24)!
“ In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” – Ephesians 5:28-29
**When you attack your spouse, you are also attacking your marriage and yourself!
3.) Be Humble and Open. If your spouse is trying to address something you did wrong… be open and teachable. Getting defensive or blaming is a waste of time! It will never help you or your marriage, only destroy! Trust that your spouse loves and respects you. If they are telling you something about you, it is probably true. For instance, when I tell my husband he is being cold, it is because he is being cold. He might not mean to be, and he might be unaware, but he should trust that I wouldn’t make that statement unless it were true. Now, if your partner is completely off base, then you can ignore their comment, but check yourself before God first. Ask God, “is there any truth to what my spouse is saying?” God will convict you of the truth. Take it in humility. If this is hard for you, pray that God will keep you calm and humble throughout the conversation. Meditate and memorize the following verse. Make this the mantra of your marriage:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
4.) Stay On Point. Focus on the issue at hand. Do not get distracted! Do not bring up other old issues just to build your case! If your spouse starts to bring up something from the past, or starts throwing out all kinds of issues, don’t get distracted by this unless it is actually related to the issue. If it’s not related, help reel them back in to the issue.
5.) Seek the Truth. Your spouse might say something and really mean it, but sometimes they don’t. Pray and ask God to reveal to you the truth in the situation. For instance, if your spouse is complaining about anything and everything around them (i.e. dirty dishes, a messy house, all the things they have to do, etc.), but the real issue is they are anxious about something in their life…well then it would be counter-productive to have an argument about the dishes, messy house, or list of chores.
First, you have to recognize that your spouse may or may not have insight into the real issue at hand. Secondly, YOU have to have eyes to see the issue at hand if the words coming out of their mouth contradict the real issue. Confusing, right?! I think this is the real reason why so many issues go unresolved, because people are arguing over the wrong issues so they run in circles. Pray fervently that God would reveal the truth in the midst of the conflict, and then address the real issue.
There are several more tips on how to have a productive conflict. You can read more in PART 2! Leave a comment with how you plan to incorporate some of the tips in this article the next time you have a conflict with your spouse.
Thanks for visiting!