There have been, absolutely, without doubt or question, times in our marriage when we’ve had arguments. You can call them arguments, disagreements, heated fellowship, or whatever, there have been times when my wife and I haven’t seen eye to eye on a matter.
I feel confident in assuming that you have had similar times in your marriage as well. Our marriages are not marked by whether or not we disagree, all couples will disagree at some time, but our marriages are marked by how we handle the disagreements when they arise.
Fighting to Win Doesn’t Mean What You Think
The primary goal for married couples who find themselves in conflict is to resolve the conflict. That bears repeating. Our primary goal when there is a disagreement in our marriage is to find resolution to the disagreement. That’s what I mean when I refer to learning to “fight to win.” The goal isn’t to prove that I may be right and my spouse may be wrong. The goal isn’t to diminish my spouse by berating them. None of these are expressions of love or commitment. We should want resolution so that reconciliation and restoration can occur.
“The goal isn’t to prove that I may be right and my spouse may be wrong.”
The last three articles have discussed the importance of communication, sending and receiving messages effectively in our marriage. There is no more critical time for effective communication in a marriage, than when there is a disagreement. When we disagree emotions have a way of escalating, and reason can seem out of reach.
At the beginning of our marriage, our disagreements turned into door slamming arguments for three main reasons. First, we didn’t know how to communicate. Second, we were primarily selfish. Third, as a result of our selfishness, we allowed our feelings and emotions to override the primary point. If disagreements in your marriage are turning into object-throwing, name-calling, fits of anger and rage, consider why that may be the case. Is it a lack of communication skills? Are you demanding to have your way? Are you allowing your feelings or emotions to control you and derail the situation?
Make Time to Talk About It
Believe it or not, fighting to win looks a lot more like a planned meeting than a fight. That’s because when I fight to win it isn’t a fight at all, it is actually an opportunity to communicate and resolve differences. Having this perspective on disagreements changes the outlook. I’m not in it to gain a “win” for me personally. I engage in the dialogue to secure a “win” for us as a couple.
“I’m not in it to gain a win for me personally.”
So the first thing that happens is that we agree upon a time to discuss the matter. Maybe it is right now, maybe it isn’t. The time needs to be amenable to each of us because we want full engagement. If emotions are too high, one of us is distracted by work or some other matter, now may not be the right time.
When we get together to discuss the issue, we want to clearly state the problem, the causes as we see them, and think about possible solutions. We then agree upon a course of action that we believe will resolve the issue. Sounds simple, but it calls upon all of our communications skills, love for each other, and most importantly our commitment and love of God. In order to fight to win, we must continually remind ourselves that it’s not about me, it’s about us.
How do you handle disagreements in your marriage? What do the steps look like for you? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.