Fighting in marriage.
These days we are very quick to judge.
If we see a couple fighting we think things like:
"Oh they probably won't make it." "They aren't good for each other." etc...
I think we get this way because our culture has made us very cautious and aware (as it should) of unhealthy relationships.
So let me make this clear before we go any further:
I do not support or condone hitting, shoving, yelling, belittling or any form of abuse in ANY relationship,
But I'm all for a good fight.
Please keep in mind (no matter how many books you've read or speeches you've heard),
that you are not a marriage expert in any way shape or form.
No no no. You just aren't.
I am not a marriage expert either (even though I'm married).
Even couples that have been together for 50- years aren't marriage experts.
They are experts at their own marriage.
Yes. They have gain a lot of amazing marriage wisdom, insight and advice that we should all listen to,
but they cannot fully prepare you for a marriage of your own.
I have really awesome in-laws who I love!
So if you get married and you and your in-laws don't get along,
I probably wouldn't have a lot of great advice for you...
Or maybe I was unable to have children and you were married and had 3 children,
our family and marriage dynamics would be totally different....
Smell what I'm stepping in here?
Marriage isn't something to rush blind and boldly into.
You should seek good counsel before hand, but you should understand that the main way you will learn is by getting your feet wet.
Marriage is full of lots of "I had no idea..." and "I wasn't prepared for this..." moments that you just cannot account for.
But don't let that freak you out.
It's a pretty cool little adventure.
One of my "I wasn't prepared for this..." moments was about.....
Now don't get me wrong here,
my husband and I love each other and treat each other with respect and honor but we do fight!
No. We don't fight everyday or anywhere close to that, but every now and then, we have ourselves a good ole' little fight.
I don't want anyone to get into a marriage and then feel helpless when you have your first fight.
Or feel like you should throw your hands up in the air and give up when you are spouse goes through a hard time and fighting/ arguing might become frequent for a period of time.
Learn to fight fair and I promise it will get better.
Like I said before,
society is doing a pretty good job (not perfect, but still good) of bringing awareness and light to abuse and unhealthy relationships.
But unfortunately we don't do a lot of teaching on healthy fighting..
So here is my little list of some "Fighting Fair" rules and tips
(Don't worry, I borrowed a lot of these from trained professionals and couples who have been married longer than me)
Tips, Tricks and Ways to Prepare Yourself for Fighting Fair in Your Marriage:
1. As soon as you like someone, before you ever start to date or tell them you like them, study them from a far.
I am SO thankful that Joel and I did this!
You get to see how the other person is and acts like outside of your relationship.
Unfortunately relationships blind us to some of our partners' flaws or behaviors.
Once you are in a relationship, it is so easy to put on rose colored glasses and ignore a lot of warning signs.
This is why this step is important!
It's easy to fool someone into thinking you are something that you aren't while you are trying to impress them,
this will help you to see their true colors before that happens.
How they treat others, are they rude, bossy, do they hit objects (walls, lockers etc..) when they get upset? etc...
Can you deal with that?
Should you have to deal with that?
You won't learn everything there is to know about them this way,
but you will get a little glimpse into what you are in for,
and maybe help you weed out some romantic candidates with unresolved anger issues.
2. Are you fighting to win the argument or to settle the issue?
Pride is a funny thing.
We all struggle with it every now and then, but it will destroy your marriage like nothing else.
Take a step back and look at what you are saying/ doing.
Are you just trying to win? Or are you trying to solve the issue?
3. Don't talk about divorce:
Your wedding day is so unbelievably beautiful.
It is the begin of your very own love story.
No one on that day thinks about divorce, or can conceive ever wanting a divorce.
Yet, divorce happens.
I'm not going to go into why I think divorce happens, because I have never been there.
My parents are still together, and Joel and I haven't been together long enough to consider divorce. (lol)
But I know it's heart breaking.
Keep it out of your fights.
This isn't some high school romance anymore where you can break up and get back together a million times.
This is marriage.
So don't threaten divorce during an argument.
Don't bring it up while you are mad.
My parents had this rule, or at least I remember my Dad telling me that they never talked about divorce when I was little.
I didn't really understand how great that was at the time, but I am starting to know.
The thought behind this rule is:
If divorce is never considered, then it probably won't happen.
So let's go ahead and take that topic off the table.
(I don't know your story or what you are going through or what you have been through so please don't get upset about this rule. If you are being abused or your children are being abused in anyway- I believe you should seek help for sure and do what you need to do to keep yourself and your family safe. So please, I hope you don't feel any condemnation from me)
"I can NEVER talk to you about how I really feel.",
"You ALWAYS act like you are annoyed with me"
Plain and simple: just try to never use these words in an argument.
These words are almost always exaggerations,
and they do nothing but fan the flame of the argument and tear each of you down.
A few years ago I was seeing a therapist and this was one of the first ground rules she taught me about.
And it does help, really.
Instead of using global words, try getting specific.
If my husband were to say something to me like:
"You ALWAYS make me feel bad about myself."
I would feel like the biggest failure of a wife ever,
and his true feels wouldn't really have been communicated to me because he spoke to me purely out of exasperation, and not with any specifics that I can learn and grow from.
Bring up specific incidences so that your partner can better understand what they are doing that hurts you or bothers you.
It will bring clarity and understanding.
5. Guard your fights:
Do not fight in public.
Please with all your might, try to save this for the privacy of your own home...
As weird as this might sound- healthy fighting, is an intimate thing...
No. Not a sexual thing,
an intimate thing....
It's part of the inner workings of a marriage.
It is very damaging to fight in front of others or to talk to others about every single problem you and your husband are having.
Don't get me wrong- sometimes you need a counselor, pastor, or mentor to help you mediate or work through some issues.
However, innocent bystanders, friends, extended family (which includes both of yall's parents when you are married) should not have to witness and hear about every little argument and scuffle you and your spouse have.
It gives everybody a bad taste-
honestly, it makes everyone dislike your relationship.
You are there for all the up's and down's of your marriage, but your friends and extended family are not.
If they are only hearing about all the bad things, then they will start to get a very ugly picture of your marriage and (naturally, because they love you and are protective of you) become sort of against your partner or relationship.
And also- It's just really super stinking awkward for anyone to watch/ listen to a couple fight.
And do not bring others into your problems to manipulate the situation...
Just don't. Please, don't. I might slap you a little. lol
Don't run and tell everyone when you and your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ fiance/ wife/ husband have a little argument, just so you can get some "victim" attention.
Okay, okay, okay- let me make this clear: If you are being physically, verbally, mentally, or emotionally abused PLEASEEEE tell someone!
But if you and your husband got in a little argument over who drank the last of the milk, who ran over their minutes on the phone bill, who was suppose to fill up the cars with gas, etc... keep it between the two of you.
Here is a little trick I learned a while back:
Whenever your partner does something that upsets you in public;
don't blow up, or confront them right then and there, simply- hold their hand.
Yup whenever Joel does something stupid or (I do something stupid that upsets him) and we are not in a private enough setting to sort it out- I reach out and hold his hand.
It makes him notice me.
It forces him to consider me.
It lets him know- "Hey something is up".
And until we can sort it out, we sit there silently holding hands until we can talk about it.
It diffuses the situation a lot as well!
It's hard to be mad at someone when you are holding their hand.
6. Don't give up when it gets hard:
Someone once told me- life isn't about balance, it's about rhythm.
This statement might shake up the way you think about life but consider this:
On my honeymoon- my life was very unbalanced.
Everything was about me and my husband-
My husband and me-
Just us, and only us.
Is that wrong?...
I didn't go to work, I didn't visit my grandparents, I didn't go grocery shopping, I didn't even check my phone.
I broke the sacred rule of the "balanced life", right?
When I got back from my honeymoon,
my client that I had been caregiving for had been admitted to the hospital,
and was about to be released into in-home Hospice care.
There was a group of 4 women (including myself) who were this client's full-time caregivers and all 3 of the other girls quit the week before she was released into Hospice.
So that left just me,
to care for my client who needed 2 people caring for her, 24/7 for the next two and a half weeks until she passed.
Yes other ladies were hired, but lets just say the next two and a half weeks for me got pretty crazy.
My life also got unbalanced during this time.
I spent more time at work than I did at home with my newlywed husband for the next few weeks.
I loved my client.
She was like another grandmother to me in a lot of ways.
I was able to be a friend for her during the end of her life- up until her very last breath.
I wouldn't trade that unbalanced time in my life for anything.
So this is what I am trying to prove:
Life can never be perfectly balanced, like we are led to believe.
Yes, you will get into a daily rhythm of certain things-
but something will come along (good or bad) and change that rhythm up for a little while.
Just understand, if you stick it out- the rhythm will start to calm itself again.
Maybe there will be a job loss?
Or a surprise bill?
Or a vacation?
Or you have a baby?
Or one of you gets sick?
Or one of you begins to slip into depression?...
All of these things will change the rhythm of your lives and you need to keep in mind that arguments will happen naturally and more frequently than normal during these times.
Yes, even on our honeymoon we fought a little because our rhythm was changing!
It was the first time we had to share a bed, a budget, find transportation from the beach back to our cruise ship, agree on what we wanted to do and when we wanted to do it, etc...
Just because you are fighting more frequently than normal doesn't mean you are failing,
It probably means your rhythm is just changing or being disrupted.
Ride it out.
Work though it.
It'll probably start to calm down sooner than you think.
- 7. The moment you lose your self-control is the moment you need a time-out.
If you feel non-productive words, insults and rage start to creep up on you,
guess what? It's time for a time-out.
As much as we'd like to think differently, it's hard to erase the past.
It's impossible to take back what we said or did when we were really angry.
Yes, there is always forgiveness, but forgiveness is hard sometimes.
Don't create more problems on top of what you are arguing about because you lost your cool.
Sometimes you need to take a drive, go to your room and pray etc...
Take a step back.
Or even interrupt the argument with this: "Okay! Stop. We need to pray right now."
It's hard to argue with that.
8. Attitudes are contagious and whatever you have, your spouse will catch:
Bad attitudes, gossip, division, unforgiveness, etc....
All these things are toxic and ungodly.
for example, let's imagine...:
Every time I came home I was always talking to Joel about this person I worked with who I had problems with.
Every little wrong thing they did, every time I was hurt by them, etc...
What do you think my husband's attitude will like towards this person?
Not good, probably.
I had a revelation one day that when I stand before God I will be held accountable for every ounce of hatred that I planted in my husband's heart all because I refused to take my hurts to the Lord.
(Rom 14:12, Ezk 3:18-19)
If we don't guard our marriage from this kind of negativity, our marriage will become like a cesspool.
There will be lots of drama wherever we go- which causes a lot of fights.
Joel and I have always wanted to be a team for the Lord.
We never wanted to be known as that couple that will talk bad about you if you mess up,
the couple that never forgives anyone,
the couple that makes fun of others,
the couple that everyone is nervous around... etc...
We want to be a team for Christ and a representation of His love.
Which bleeds over into my next point.
9. You are a team, always:
Can I tell on myself real fast?
I learned this one the hard way.
My husband and I lead Worship together,
(that means we sing in church together),
and we flew to my hometown for a visit not too long ago.
Because we flew, we didn't bring our guitars with us, but everywhere we went people wanted to hear our new songs and hear us play and sing...
So my best friend let us borrow her guitar.
long and short of the story is- my husband placed my best friend's guitar by the car to pack it- forgot the keys- went inside- got the keys- forgot the guitar was still sitting behind the car waiting to get loaded into the trunk-backed up- ran over the guitar- destroyed it.
This poor guitar.
I was soooo mad at him!
I said things like "I can't believe you were that careless!", "How could you have done this!" etc...
I forgot I was on his team.
God corrected me on the car ride home, and I apologized to Joel.
I asked him if he was hurt, or embarrassed that he broke the guitar and he told me he was.
I felt so bad that I wasn't in his corner for that moment!
He was so nervous, ashamed, and embarrassed,
and I offered him no support when he needed it.
Of course we bought her a new guitar, exactly the same as the one she lost.
We were so worried about how we would be able to pay for a new guitar to replace her old one.
However, after God corrected me and I apologized to my husband for not being on his team, about an hour later we got a call about our tax refund telling us we were getting WAYYYY more back than we thought we were.
Enough to buy my friend SIX brand new guitars.
I believe God is good.
He is always teaching His children.
And I believe that was a little reward for listening to His voice and learning a hard truth.
This happens a lot in marriage.
10. Fight everyday:
This last point is the reason I want fighting in my marriage everyday.
I want to fight for my husband everyday.
I want my husband to fight for me.
Let's fight for each other.
Marriage is a wonderful journey, full of a lot of big and little bumps in the road.
But can I be honest?
My favorite love stories aren't the ones where a couple has been married 50 years,
and never fought and everything was always coming up roses.
Those stories are rare and awesome in their own way.
But I love marriage stories that test the vows we give one another.
The broken, unfaithful, hurting marriages that are restored.
The marriages that love each other through poorest of poor and the sickest of sick.
Redemptive love, right down to the very end, and the very last goodbye.
Now that's a great love story.
We are all human.
No matter if we have God in our lives or not, we are all going to mess up.
Just like me and the guitar story.
It might seem like a small story, but it shows me that we (my husband and I) both have the ability to hurt each other deeply.
Yet, we also have the ability to forgive, and love deeply.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8
Hope this gives you a little less scary insight into fighting in marriage.
And again- let me apologize for the long time in between posts.
We went on vacation- and then as soon as we came back we got the flu. lol
Oh the rhythm of life, right?
Well I love you to the moon and back- and if you ever need any prayer for your marriage or relationship- just let me know.
Until we meet again,