ARFighting a Good FightAs two people get ready to be married, the last thing on their minds is how they will fight together. But since fights are things that cannot be avoided, the trick is to learn how to fight a good fight.Fights are inevitable in a marriage. So how do we make them strengthen our relationship with our spouse rather than hurt it? A good fight is really about a husband and wife trying to understand one another better. This article talks about how when we do fight, we can make it a productive one by not allowing emotions to rule, focusing on the real issue, using meaningful words, and understanding that we are unique individuals. While fights may be inevitable, they don't have to be painful and ugly. A good fight strips away the anger and brings two people closer together.
As two people get ready to be married, they are often filled with
blissful thoughts of their honeymoon or their new home. They might even
imagine how they will share breakfast in the mornings or take long walks in
the park after dinner. The furthest thing from their minds is how they will
Unfortunately, arguments are a very real part of marriage. All couples
have had their fair share of bickering, whether big or small. Even though it
sounds awful, the good fight, ironically, can bring two people closer
together. These fights usually start because they are desperate attempts at
communicating our thoughts and feelings when we feel frustrated or
misunderstood. So, whether we know it or not, the good fight is really about
a husband and wife trying to understand one another better. Since it's
something that cannot be avoided, the trick is to learn to fight a good
Not Allowing Emotions to Rule
"Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high
priest's servant, and cut off his right ear" (Jn 18:10). In a fit of
rage, Peter decided that cutting off someone's ear would get his point
across. Because we are human, our first reaction during a fight is to get
mad or upset. Although we may not go so far as to physically harm another
person, we often raise our voices and say hurtful things. In Peter's case,
Jesus Christ was there to salvage the situation by healing the servant, who
was then no worse off. But it usually isn't possible to take back our words,
which can cause great damage to a relationship. When we allow our emotions
to take over, we get blinded and lose track of our thoughts.
One time, a man in a truck honked at me as I was parked with my family in
front of a driveway entrance. Seeing that we were in his way, I drove off.
As we left, my husband, who was in the back seat with our son, glared at the
other man. This man must have had a bad day, because he immediately made a
u-turn and chased after us. Not wanting to get into a confrontation, I drove
as fast as I could. After several blocks, the man in the truck turned around
and gave up his pursuit.
At that point, I got extremely upset and began a
verbal attack on my husband. I listed all of the things he had done wrong,
and it took a good five minutes to get everything out of my system. My
husband remained quiet during the entire time. I was so angry that I
shouted, "Don't you have anything to say? What if he had had a
gun?" Other than these words, I honestly can't remember much else of
what I said. I just kept spewing out sentence after sentence, hoping to let
my husband know how upset I was. It wasn't productive at all, because I was
too mad to think straight.
Sometimes hurtful words can cause the other person to go on the offensive
and create a fight that is not even about the real issue at hand. To help us
control our anger, a lot of people suggest counting to ten before we say
anything, and although it sounds silly, the reasons behind it make sense.
That extra time allows us to take a deep breath and analyze the situation.
As Christians, instead of counting, we can first try praying to God
together. In addition to giving us some time to help ourselves remain calm,
we will find that God will help us see things a little differently. When we
choose to trust God, He will open our eyes and hearts in a way that nothing
After I stopped yelling, my husband said, "I'm sorry. That was a stupid
thing to do." While I was screaming like a lunatic, he had the time to
reflect on what had happened. Then he responded appropriately to my
outburst, which helped me to calm down. We were even able to make a pact
about what we would do if either one of us were caught in a similar
situation in the future.
Focusing on the Real Issue
During a fight with our marriage partner, we often find ourselves
listing—or at least thinking about—the other person's past mistakes. This is
not a good strategy. It only sends the argument completely out of control
and ends up hurting both people.
When God forgives us, our transgressions are blotted out. When the
Israelites sinned, they could redeem themselves by offering sacrifices to
God, and He accepted them as atonement. "For on that day the priest
shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all
your sins before the Lord" (Lev 16:30). God does not remind us daily of
all the mistakes we made in the past—that would make it too hard for us to
restore our relationship with Him. If God can forgive us completely, why
can't we do the same for others? When we drag up the past, we are telling
our partners that we haven't forgotten it, or perhaps we are looking for
ammunition to use against them. Unfortunately, these kinds of bullets only
steer us away from having a productive fight. A good fight focuses on the
After I gave birth to my son, I found myself getting mad at my husband
over his pick-up basketball games at the local park. Although I didn't say
anything, after a month he asked me what was wrong, because he could sense
that I was unhappy each time he left for a game. I thought about it and
realized that it wasn't the fact that he was playing basketball that
bothered me; rather, I just wanted him to spend more time with me and to
help take care of our new child. Once we got to the real problem, my
feelings of hurt and frustration disappeared. We agreed on a schedule that
would be acceptable to both of us concerning his games, and we were able to
spend more quality time together as a family.
If we find that the same things always trigger a fight or that the past
is getting in the way, then it is time to really sit down and have a lengthy
discussion with our partner about those unresolved tensions. Otherwise, they
will be a constant source of problems. And once they have been talked about
and worked out, we need to let them go. It's the only way to establish a
trusting and loving bond.
Using Meaningful Words
When we fight, we tend to use harsh words because we think that our
partner will pay more attention to what we're saying. That's why fights in a
marriage almost always turn into shouting matches—because we equate volume
with clarity. The truth is, the more we say hurtful things, the more our
partner will tune us out.
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger"
(Prov 15:1). In a good fight, by softening our voices and expressing
ourselves using specific phrases, such as "This is what is bothering
me" and "This is what I need from you," we can get our
message across ten times clearer. In addition, we can let the other person
know that we are trying to understand them by saying, "I think this is
what you are saying to me" and "I can sense that you are
upset." When said in the right context and correct volume, the proper
words can open up a great communication channel.
A good fight will also sometimes involve being the bigger person and
saying the right words to change the entire atmosphere. Once during a fight
my husband blurted out to me, "Why do we argue? You always win."
That caught me so off guard that I could only burst into laughter. After I
managed to control myself, our anger had subsided and we managed to calmly
discuss what we had been fighting over. It's not always easy to be the
bigger person, because it is human nature to try to get in the last word.
But when we humble ourselves, we may be surprised at the results.
Apologizing for Getting Angry
Proverbs says, "Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has
done you no harm" (Prov 3:30). This verse seems to suggest that
fighting is acceptable as long as there is good reason. But there isn't
always a justification for the way we fight or the things we say. No matter
who began the dispute, if either partner loses his or her temper, then that
person needs to apologize. By doing so, we are acknowledging that we were at
fault to some degree, because no one person is completely right or wrong.
There is a lot of power in the words "I'm sorry" when they are
said sincerely—and quickly. "Do not let the sun go down on your
wrath" (Eph 4:26). Any fight should be resolved right away, because
there is just no reason why two people cannot talk things out. That is one
of the vows we make when we agree to spend the rest of our life with someone
else: to stick it out through the good and the bad. For that promise to
work, we need to communicate. If we get mad and slam the door on each other,
the feelings won't go away. They will only build up over time, and one day
we will end up really hurting each other.
We will also discover that regular communication can decrease the number
of fights we have in our marriage, because we can better understand our
partner's needs and wants. Although this sounds like an easy solution, it is
hard to carry out. We get so caught up in work, in church, or in our
children that we don't always set aside enough quality time to spend with
each other. But we need to make an effort to take time out each week to talk
about whatever is on our minds. Schedule it in, if that's what it takes.
Good old-fashioned talking, face to face, can be refreshing and beneficial
to your relationship.
Understanding We Are Unique Individuals
My husband has a habit of leaving his dirty socks on the bedroom floor
after he changes. I don't argue with him about this habit, because it's not
that difficult for me to pick them up and throw them into the hamper along
with my own clothes. But more important, I know that I have some quirks that
he has to live with, too. For instance, I like predictability, and I get
frustrated very easily when he springs something on me at the last minute.
Some things about us are difficult to change. Yet when we are in the
middle of a fight, we expect our partner to think the same way we do. No
doubt we have all said things like, "Why can't you see things my
way?" or "What's wrong with you?" More likely than not,
there's nothing wrong with our partner. In fact, we are just as guilty
ourselves of not seeing things from the other person's perspective. What it
boils down to is that we need to make compromises in a relationship.
Unfortunately, we tend to want to take more than we give out.
God knows full well that no two people are alike, because He created us
that way. He didn't do this to encourage us to fight about our differences,
but rather to allow us to complement one another in the various aspects of
our lives. "Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as
himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph 5:33). So rather than sweating over the small stuff, we need to think about
what the other person brings to the relationship that is unique and lovable.
After all, that's why God joined us together as one.
Fights in a marriage may be inevitable, but they don't have to be painful
and ugly affairs. When we recognize that the good fight is a means through
which a couple communicates, then we can turn our attention away from just
getting our point across, and focus instead on what we are really trying to
say. But arguments, no matter how great or small, can have a lasting effect
on two people. Since arguing is part and parcel with the relationship,
rather than having meaningless shouting matches, we should focus on creating
productive meetings of the minds. A good fight eliminates the unnecessary
accusations and discusses the real issues, using meaningful words. A good
fight strips away the anger and involves two words: "I'm sorry." A
good fight brings two people closer together.
"Love & Marriage" seeks to address and provide biblical advice
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