One of the best things, and sometimes the worse thing, about people, is that we are all created uniquely different with our own thoughts, opinions, corks, personalities, gifting, etc. In fact, it’s often those differences that bring two people together. You know the saying “opposites attract,” it so often rings true when two people come together, bond, and end up getting married. The positive to that statement is that what you may be lacking your spouse may excel in, creating a sweet balance in your relationship. The negative is that you may step on each other’s toes a few times before figuring out the steps to your lifelong dance.
Arguing! Yelling! Fighting! These are terms seen, in a relationship, as things to avoid at all costs. If a relationship succumbs to conflict then it must be a sign that it’s in trouble and no longer “perfect”. However, research suggests that conflict and arguing actually aid in understanding and being aware of another person’s perspective. An argument can be very beneficial to a relationship’s health because it can bring to light topics that we value and are very important to us. Mind blown! Right? So maybe instead of calling it an argument or conflict, the new name should be “growth opportunity.”
The moment we have a perspective change when arguing with our spouse is when that growth can occur and our relationship will be better for it. You see it’s not about needing to argue more to better your marriage it’s learning how to diffuse what society would call an “argument” and learn to fully listen and hear the person’s perspective of your spouse. If you and your spouse can learn to deal with conflict and arguments well then it is no longer a “fight” but rather a growth opportunity. So, even though it’s not easy to be wrong or not have everything go your way, your spouse is worth it. Your spouse is worth learning how to diffuse a conflict so that growth can happen. Here are a few ideas on how to do just that:
1. Be an Active Listener
Don’t passively hear what your spouse is saying or only listen to respond. Actively listening means you are listening to understand, fully concentrating on what is being said. Every person has an underline root to their anger and the only way you can fully see their perspective and hear why they are angry and upset is by listening to understand. Words are a powerful tool that can either build a person up or tear them completely apart. In an argument oftentimes trigger words are thrown around that causes a person to react and respond negatively, which leads to escalation and flawed communication. However, in these moments, the only person you can fully control is yourself. In a moment of tension, you can personally choose to humble yourself and approach your spouse with vulnerability, openness, and a willingness to listen. It is then that you will see that it may have all been a misunderstanding, or that you weren’t even arguing about the same thing, to begin with. It is when we are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19) that we are able to fully see and understand.
2. Take a Deep Breath
When your spouse is doing or saying something that is causing your blood to boil it is always wise to slow down, take a breath and even count to ten. It is when we don’t breathe in between responses that we end up doing or saying something we may regret. Taking a moment to breathe gives a minute to collect yourself and think clearly. It also offers time to be a good listener and to respond well and responsibly rather than flying off the handle. Taking a breather may even include your walking away for a few minutes, thinking about what was said, and then calmly returning. When a challenging conversation arises, a time out with the Lord is always wise, taking a breath combined with prayer has a way of not only simmering down your boiling blood but helps you to open your heart and even see what changes you personally need to make.
3. Resolve Matters Quickly; Don’t Allow them to Fester
Ephesians 4:26-27 says it best, “’ In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” The only way a conflict can be fully resolved is through good communication. Blowing up, spewing words, and then not talking to one another can lead to festering which results in bitterness and resentment in a relationship. Dwelling on an issue rather than working it out will cause poison to seep into your relationship making the conflict go from being centered on an issue to becoming the person. You see the enemy is out to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10) and one of the best ways he can do that in a marriage is by causing division. Don’t allow him to grab a foothold! Talk out your disagreements, don’t go to bed angry, and resolve the issue quickly with a kiss.
4. Never Resort to Insults
Heart check! If all you can do in an argument is point the finger you better take a hard look at all those other fingers pointing back at you. Hurt people, hurt people and when we are feeling angry and hurt, hurtful words seem to be the way to go. This of course begs the question, are you wanting to hurt your spouse? Picture every insult as a dagger stabbing your spouse, every stab is a wound that will need time to heal and be mended. The more daggers are thrown the more destruction it causes. Throwing insults at your spouse in the heat of an argument can truly wreck a marriage. A conflict wrapped up in insults and hurtful words are much messier to clean up and harder to resolve. So refrain from name calling and tearing your spouse down when working through an argument.
5. Remember that you Love Each Other
Despite the situation remember this person is more valuable to you than being the “winner” of this argument. Wanting to be “right” is not always the right thing to do rather taking a more nonthreatening, vulnerable stance can have a greater effect. An act of affection can help disarm your spouse and will communicate that closeness is what matters most. Choose to show your spouse love and affection even in the midst of a disagreement.
Arguments are inevitable in a marriage but it’s up to you as to whether or not they become “growth opportunities.”