Six Ways to Fight So You Both Win
Conflict will come to our marriage. It might be small things like who leaves toothpaste trails in the sink or it might be earth-shaking conflicts that endanger your relationship, but conflict always happens when two sinners unite. So, what makes the difference between marriages that stay the distance and those that fall apart?
Mates that stay together – and enjoy it! – often have ground rules for conflict in their marriage. Here are ours:
Eliminate the Nuclear Option
Mutual Assured Destruction was a questionable strategy for the Cold War, all it does in marriage is destroy your family. Agree right now that divorce is not an option. “If you leave me, I’m going with you,” is the way we put it. When you commit to staying together no matter what, you stop storing up ammunition against each other, dragging out conflicts (because sooner or later you’re going to have to make up), and stop thinking of everything as mine or yours (you know, just in case).
No Cluster Bombs
Cluster bombs are a munition that breaks up into a bunch of explosive shells and just targets a huge area. Have one fight at a time! Don’t throw in all the other things that annoy you or talk about the last time he or she did this. Instead focus on the one thing you are in conflict about and it will be much easier to work it out.
Our children often answer, “What’s the problem here?” with the name of a sibling. Nope. Not true. And neither is your mate the problem. That means no name-calling, no character attacks, no disrespect or nastiness. Remember, this is the one you will grow old with and “sticks and stones will break my bones will never hurt me is a lie.” Words hurt. Badly.
No Extended Campaigns
We read early in our marriage in Ephesians 4, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” and decided we wouldn’t go to bed angry. That means we’ve had quite a few really late nights, but it also means we haven’t had much bitterness, either. When you let conflict drag out, you brood over it and it gets bigger and more dramatic. Deal with it quickly.
Victory is Not the Goal
When two people are one flesh, when one wins, they both lose. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it, but the goal shouldn’t be winning the argument, but instead restoring the relationship, and discerning what God wants you to do as a family. When we take our eyes off of the offense and focus on reconciliation it changes the whole thing.
Forgive like God Does
One of the most concerning verses we can think of is “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Do we really want God to forgive us as we forgive others? We’d better start forgiving like He does! How is that? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” we read in 1 John 1. Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and when we trust Him to forgive us, God promises, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” How can we do any less?
You see where this is going. Maturity. Getting over it. Taking your relationship seriously. Doing what’s right. That makes conflict a lot less a war and more a fight you can both win.
What are your ground rules for conflict?
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie
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