Sometimes it seems God refines us in His Furnace by turning up the heat in our relationships. We argue. We thresh out what we believe as a couple by pushing back against each other.
My husband and I have always been passionate about our beliefs. Rough translation: both of us were sure we were right and our mission was to convince the other how wrong they were.
Some couples keep their disagreements private. My parents occasionally had a disagreement, but I never really heard them argue. When my father was 96 years old, I mentioned that I did not recall them arguing. I asked him if they ever did.
“Oh yes,” he said. “We didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we worked it out.”
I asked him how they did it.
“Well,” he said, “when we got mad, I’d walk uptown to the post office and then come back. Then we’d try again. I was pretty tired by then, and I didn’t want to argue so much.”
I asked him if it happened very often. This time he frankly laughed.
He then said, “How do you think I got to 96? It was all that exercise!”
People don’t always agree. It is ok to have differences of opinions.
Rarely is someone completely right and someone completely wrong.
There is only one Judge of “rightness” and “wrongness.” That is God. Rather than trying to get our spouse to agree with us, we need to see what God says and both agree with Him!
Here are some tips for having a “fair fight” with your spouse.
No physical contact. When the adrenaline starts flowing, it’s too easy to want to physically subdue the one you suddenly see as your opponent. Don’t be tempted.
If you must have physical contact with something, be safe and respectful of others’ belongings. I.E. a slammed door is much better than taking a hammer to the irreplaceable vase she inherited from her grandmother.
No references to physical appearance. The wounding of negative words about a person’s appearance can last long after the argument has resolved.
Stick to the subject you disagree on. Stay in the present. This is not the time to try to get history to support your cause. “This is just like that thing you did in 1987 and that other thing you did in 1992, etc, etc.”
Stay away from trapping your spouse into a negative prison. When you say, “You ALWAYS do something or you NEVER do something,” you are making it difficult for your spouse to ever change. And you will strengthen your belief that what you are saying is true.
What is The Truth? “Always” and “never” almost “never” happen.
Forgive as God forgives. Hebrews 8:12 records God’s Way of forgiving.
“I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sin no more.”
What if we forgave that way? If we could, then each time our spouse did something that offended us, it would be like the first time they ever did it.
If we are not at the level of forgiving and forgetting, then at least we can agree not to bring up past “sins” in the present discussion.
Next tip: Don’t use the Bible or God to prove your point. Certainly you should speak what God guides you to speak, but don’t use Him to proof text you.
Nothing worse than two Christians trying (figuratively speaking) to hit each other with their Bibles! Better to call a “time out” and each of you go to your respective corners and pray. Get the words straight from God.
Now that we’ve taken some of the most commonly used fighting tactics off the table, what’s left?
You can still passionately present your views. You can say what you think, why you think it, and why you disagree with your spouse’s view.
But what if neither of you is budging? Some things cannot be resolved, but there can be compromises that you can both “live with.” Sometimes being closer to the middle results in one of you moving a little closer to the other view.
Sometimes you can surrender a point or two, just because you realize how important it is to your spouse. If he insists on using a certain fork, you may never understand the reason, but you can understand that it’s important to him.
What if what is at stake is so important, you simply cannot change your view? Stand your ground. Agree to stop arguing for now. Agree to pray about it together. When you pray, pray only that God reveal to each of you what His Will is.
Together, agree with Jesus. Read aloud together, “Not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Have my husband and I perfected the “fair fight” yet? Not so much. But we’re better at it than we were 40 years ago!