Have you argued with your spouse?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
This is a part of life and in any meaningful relationship, there will be arguments. The issue is, will we fight fair and grow from the argument or divide from it?
This trend has splintered families, divided churches, and has been a reason for marriages to end.
But this doesn’t have to be the way we handle arguments. We can grow in fighting fair and go to new levels in our relationships.
This is especially true for our marriages.
Too many times little things build up and once it explodes, bad outcomes happen. But God speaks to this part of our lives and can help us in fighting fair.
“1. A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. 2. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. – 4.Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”Proverbs 15:1-2, 4
Notice the wisdom of God for us.
Gentle words can mitigate anger. What we say can build a bridge or blow it up. How’ve you been there?
Then God will give us the wisdom to articulate our hearts clearly, verses speaking out foolishness. This sounds easy but the reality is, we need God’s wisdom when sharing our hearts in an argument. We’re tempted to lash out because so many buttons are being pushed, but the wisdom of God helps us navigate through this.
Gentle words also produce life, and lying crushes the soul. This is the second time we see God bring up gentle words. They mitigate anger and they are a tree of life.
Meaning, from our words, can come fruit that produces life and peace. Conversely, lying crushes the spirit.
Notice the difference. Gentle words build up a marriage and lies crush a marriage.
This is why we need Jesus. We all can learn how to fight fair. This doesn’t come easy and it’s not natural. We have to learn how to do this and then practice it.
So, here are three ways to fight fair.
1st – Fight about the issue, not the person.
When we feel attacked, it’s over. We’re going to be defensive and the argument will dissolve into chaos.
Instead, we must be addressing a current issue regarding a decision or behavior. This takes the focus off the person and puts it on the issue at hand. It’s also important we don’t bring something from five years ago or longer, especially if they apologized.
Forgiveness means I let it go and I don’t rehearse it over and over again.
Now, it’s possible that an issue has gone on for a long time, even then, address the current situation and seek help to resolve it.
2nd – Share your heart on what you want.
What I mean by this is, to articulate the goal you have on the other side of the issue. For example, I want to have more dates with you. I’d like us to talk consistently about our money plan, or I want us to laugh together.
When we share our heart’s desire to be closer or connected to our spouse, it lifts the perspective beyond the argument, to the purpose of the marriage.
Arguments are not meant for us to be stuck in them. They are meant to help us grow closer and to learn how we serve each other.
3rd – Respect boundaries.
I’ve learned this the hard way. Early in our marriage, I would force the argument to happen when I wanted it. The problem was, my wife wasn’t ready, and I was pushing her instead of leading her.
Everyone processes information differently and it’s important we understand our spouse and give them space for this to happen. Respecting each others’ boundaries sets the tone for fighting fair and furthermore, growing from it.
There is a better way and it’s through Jesus that we can fight fair.
It’s possible that our arguments help us grow closer, learn about each other, serve one another, and move forward.
We don’t have to isolate. We don’t have to shut down and we don’t have to fight unfairly.
I believe you can do this, and from fighting fair, you will grow with each other.
God is with you and the best is yet to come!