How to Fight With Your Spouse Without Killing Your Marriage
by Dr. Sharon Schuetz 1/18/2010 / Marriage
Did you know that marriage is the only relationship in Scripture where two people become one? It illustrates the Trinity's triune relationship. The Trinity is three separate individuals with different identities and roles, agreeing as one, in perfect harmony. Marriage is two separate individuals with different identities and roles, agreeing as one, in perfect harmony. Well, at least it is two separate individuals with different identities and roles. The agreeing part is something we have to learn. But if we love one another enough we can learn how to disagree without hurting each other.
God tells us to leave our father and mother, cleave together, and become one (Gen. 2:24). Like the Trinity, we must develop oneness of spirit. Though we love our parents, we grow up; marry, move away, and establish new families. Eventually, our children will leave and start their own families. Couples are together long after the children grow up and leave home, so we should make our marriage our priority.
Cotten Mather wrote, "Well ordered families naturally produce a good order in society." God's plan for a strong marriage is to produce strong families. Strong families create a healthy society. Marriage blends two people from different backgrounds and families, with different customs, traditions, and methods of communicating, into one. This clearly causes conflict. We can compare newlyweds to two porcupines trying to hug; the closer they get, the more they hurt one another.
By understanding a few key relationship principles, we can find new ways to handle conflict. After we're married, we cannot react to anger and disappointment as we did before. Learning to disagree constructively is crucial to any family. Ideally, most couples should build their relationship before having children, so they will have time to establish healthy methods of conflict resolution.
I'm from a large family with six screaming kids. My husband, Michael, was the oldest of three bookworms. Two months after our wedding, we had our first big blow up. We were outside when he made me angry. I started screaming. After all, that's the way I had always handled conflict. He just said, "Woman, when you can carry on an intelligent conversation, I'll be in the house." With that, he sauntered in and closed the door. I was speechless. This changed my life by forcing me to learn healthy conflict resolution. After all, what fun is it screaming at a closed door?
Occasional conflict is expected in marriage. How we treat one another during conflict, can seriously affect our relationships. We must focus on what we disagree on instead of throwing up past failures or using abusive, cutting words that hurt. We want to find a solution, not win an argument. If we need to fight to win, we should take up boxing. To create strong families we need to concentrate on what's best for the relationship, and set our own agendas aside.
Our family should have a positive impact on our community. We are God's witness to a lost world. People notice how we interact and how we speak to one another. They see our children's demonstrations of love, and it makes them wonder what makes our family different from other families. What better time to share God's love with them, and draw them into His kingdom? When we build our family on God's relationship principles, we will be in His plan for our lives and our family. Believe me, making up is a whole lot more fun if you do not fight first.
Dr. Schuetz is an ordained minister and has been in ministry with her husband for twenty-five years. She has a PhD in clinical Christian counseling. She and her husband, Michael, of 33 years have 2 sons, 1 daughter, 9 grandchildren.