I feel unqualified to write this post. But maybe it’s in my unqualified state that I’m truly able to write what needs to be said. Maybe in my honesty, in my transparency, you’ll see that you are not alone, that there is another couple just like you struggling to fight fair.
Let me start by saying EVERYONE fights. There is no couple alive that doesn’t fight. It’s inevitable, you are going to fight. It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN. Conflict always arises when two people are doing life with one another. Conflict arises when you disagree about dishtowels, how to clean, take care of money, if you will do something tonight or not. Sometimes it’s deeper than that though, conflict arises because you feel unloved or disrespected, you’ve been hurt or you feel neglected.
In all these circumstances two people with two backgrounds, two different mindsets, perspectives and understanding come together to find resolution. In most cases two sides are arguing for which one is right, which side is the winner, but marriage is not a contract it’s a covenant.
Covenant language is not you do this so I’ll do that, it’s I’ll do this because I love you not because you deserve it or earned it. Our love, commitment, patience, tenderness, grace, faithfulness, understanding is not determined by our spouse. We extend ourselves even when (especially when) they don’t deserve it. Why? Because that’s how God has loved us.
This changes everything. In a world where fighting is perpetually unfair as we are all trying to win, we can lay down our claims and step into the arena with open arms and hands instead of closed fists. Instead of trying to prove that we are right or strike a blow we can truly seek resolution. We can seek to mend what is broken and draw closer to our spouse instead of further away.
Impossible as it may seem fair fighting can be achieved. It’s not an easy one size fits all or multistep program; it’s a mindset, a remembering of simple but profound truths, some practical tips and a whole lot of grace.
So when you are in the middle of a heated discussion, the next time you disagree stop and remember :
1. You are loved.
When we remember that we are loved our whole world changes. We no longer go seeking for it in odd places, fighting to be accepted and wanted but sit in peace and assurance in the presence of God. You are loved, wholey, completely, fully known and loved. So loved that God himself stepped down off his throne in heaven to come and mend your relationship with him. He lived among us and died for us so that we could know the great depths of his love. Rest first in Him.
2. You are not alone.
You are never alone. Not only are there countless other marriages that feel just as broken, just as lonely, just as hopeless, Jesus knows it all. He not only sees your heartache but understands it. He not only sees your hurt but has felt it. He not only sees your sin but died for it. Take comfort that the Lord is always with you, will never forsake you and completely understands you.
3. You are not the point.
Sorry to say it but your marriage is not about you. Your life isn’t even about you. You are not the point. You are part of a larger story, a greater plan, His plan. You don’t have to win, He already has. You don’t have to justify your sin for it’s been justified on the cross. You don’t have seek retribution because Jesus paid for it. You are free to live in Him, dying to self and living in Christ, walking in the plans He has made for you.
4. Forgive, for you’ve been forgiven.
You are not a clean slate. Your life is marked by countless actions against the King and your spouse. You are not a sinless being but the God who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. So we can forgive because we’ve been greatly forgiven.
5. Love is kind.
Looking to the cross of Christ you cannot skip the kindness of God. God was sympathetic to our story and entered in. He was helpful in helping those who could not help themselves. He was gentle taking it all upon himself. He was generous in giving of himself and causing no damage. We too are to express this kind love for love is kind. Speak kindly. Walk kindly. Seek kindness and show it graciously to your spouse.
6. Listen Well.
Spend time in the Word of God listening to his words, watching his example. Not only that listen to your spouse. Hear what they are saying. Seek to understand them better so as to better love them.
7. Live Well.
In order to fight well you must live well outside of your fights. Enjoy one another. Date one another. Do fun things. Have fun doing monotonous things. Marraige is a blessing and it is through our spouses that we are often blessed the most but sometimes it’s hard to see the light when you feel so far down in a hole. Follow the forementioned steps outside of the walls of a disagreement and pray. God is bigger than your sin, bigger than your spouse’s’ sin and He is in the business of redeeming relationships.
Fighting is going to happen but it doesn’t have to be destructive. It can be constructive, it can be used for the building up of you and your spouse, of your marriage. Redemption takes time but it is time well spent.