Can you remember the first time you and your husband got into a fight? Chances are you do. When something as nerve-wrecking as a full-on screaming fight rocks the love boat, it is not easily forgotten. Thinking back, you can probably remember the emotions that you felt, the exact words that were said, and even the ways in which the relationship changed afterward. Unfortunately, no one told us on our wedding day the correct way to fight in marriage. Notice I said the correct way to fight, not how to stop fighting. Truth is, we are both sinners living together under one roof, creating a life together. There will be disagreements. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to navigate any conflict that comes our way.
First off, we have to remember that we do love the person we are fighting with. Do not try to purposefully hurt your husband. This will only harm your relationship, and may cause him to try and get even. The same goes for husbands also (you know what they say about a woman scorned). Do not in any way label or call each other names. Do not try to tell each other how the other one should feel about the situation. You are not in their shoes, and do not know what they have experienced. Trying to tell someone how they should feel comes off as disrespectful and unsympathetic. Just remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to our feelings.
Also, learn from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and do not play the blame game. Own your own mistake and admit when you are wrong. Under no circumstances should you bring up “old baggage” or any other issues into this fight. Discuss only the subject you are fighting about. You can attack and criticize the problem, but not each other. Remember, you are fighting with the one you love.
In order to have a productive fight, there should be no yelling. Try to keep your voice at a calm neutral level. If you feel that things are getting a little heated or out of control, take a time-out to cool down. However, do not put the issue off. Make sure to set a time and place that the discussion will continue, such as after he takes a walk or after I take a shower. Just be sure that both of you are in agreement with the time and the place. A fair fight consists of both husband and wife being ready, and not taken by surprise. Do not just get up and walk out with out an explanation.
Fair fighting consists of both parties agreeing to not use sarcasm or eye-rolling. After all, you are adults, not teenagers. There should be no lashing out; the truth does not always have to hurt. Also, there should be no silent treatments. Nothing can get resolved when one person refuses to talk. When fighting with the one you love, remain humble and forgiving. Cry if you need to, but don’t let it distract from the issue at hand. To keep the fight from turning nasty, allow humor to be a part of it (laughter truly is the best medicine). You may even consider setting up a safe word for when either of you feel uncomfortable. A good safe word is one that will make you both forget about the heat of the moment and bust out laughing, something silly like “butt-munch”.
In order to fight fair, we have to intently listen to what the other person is saying, while holding back any defensiveness or interruptions. For the most effective way of expressing yourself, use descriptive language such as “I feel” or “I think”, instead of “when you do this” or ” because you make me”. Our goal is to extend God’s grace to the person we love. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification of what your spouse is saying, it is better to not assume anything.
The ending of a fight should permit growth in your marriage. This is why it is important to not keep score. If one wins and the other loses, both have lost because the marriage is damaged. Conflict, when resolved in a healthy way, can take a relationship to a deeper level. Once you have arrived at a compromise (or at least resolved the issue in a God-honoring way), plan to implement these changes immediately. Just remember to be flexible, because it will not be easy at first. However, conflict resolution can also lead to a deeper intimate relationship. Hence, the term “make-up sex”.
It is important that we embrace the idea of healthy conflicts, because there will be fights in marriage. We honor God when we find a healthy way to resolve conflict, instead of letting it build into negative emotions. Of course, the first thing to do is pray. Pray before the discussion starts, pray for God’s guidance during the discussion, and pray once it has ended, thanking Him and praising Him for your marriage. It is important to remember that you are both on the same team and you are both fighting for one thing: your God-given marriage.
Finally, there are three very important things to remember when a fight arises. The first and most obvious is that at no time is physical harm part of healthy conflict. Secondly, you need to keep the fight confined within your marriage. This is not the time to announce everything to friends and family on Facebook. The last thing is that if you value your marriage, the option of divorce should never be mentioned at all. Once that door is open, it is always open, and it is better to keep that door closed forever.
By implementing these changes in your next conflict, you will begin to see the results that healthy fighting can bring into your relationship. I challenge you to try these tips the next time conflict arises. It will be better for your marriage and honoring to God.