You and your spouse have had an argument. You want to talk it out, but your spouse retreats. What do you do? Is there a way to “fight fair”?
When you are in a conflict, it is imperative that you communicate openly and honestly. Failure to share your feelings and talk through your differences will stifle any efforts to clear the air and restore intimacy.
Here are a few helpful things you can do in order to handle your inevitable conflicts and learn to fight fair.
Choose an appropriate time and setting.
Do you and your spouse really need to solve an issue moments before two dozen guests arrive for a dinner party? Select a time and place that minimize distractions, guarantee privacy from the children, and won’t make you tense right before an event.
Ask permission to address the conflict.
Make sure your spouse is ready to face the issue before you bring it up. For example: “Are you ready to talk about our disagreement over how to discipline the children?” or “I’m ready to confront our money problems. Are you okay with that?”
Avoid the silent treatment.
Sometimes—especially when you’re are angry—you both will clam up and give the silent treatment, thinking that the silence will communicate your perspective. Don’t mistake silence for communication. In fact, silence often is only manipulative. The goal is to open communication, not play games.
Agree on a plan for handling conflicts.
Answer this question with your spouse: How do we want to talk to each other when a conflict arises?
Prayer makes a positive impact on the resolution of conflict. Prayer takes two people on opposite sides of an issue and welcomes into the debate a third person: Jesus. Bringing Jesus into your debate makes it more intuitive to fight fair.
Listen to this example:
“Some friends of ours have been married over thirty years. They have their times of disagreement, and they shared with us how one time they hit the wall and simply could not come to an agreement. The wife turned to the husband and said, “I’m going to submit because I believe that God has put you in that position. And I trust you. But I’m going to tell you something: I’m going to go to God over this issue.” The husband listened to her, gasped, and said, “Wait a minute. You’re going to go to God?” “Yeah, because I know that he loves you and that he, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can deal with you.”
This gives a glimpse into the heart of a strong marriage. The man who hears these words from his wife realizes that his wife isn’t trying to control him; instead, she desires that he be controlled by the Holy Spirit. She goes to her ultimate authority in prayer because she desires God’s outcome for the situation. And her attitude stimulated her husband to seek after what God’s will in the situation.
When you get to the point where you just aren’t seeing eye to eye, transfer the situation to the hands of God and leave it there. Then the Lord has a chance to do a wonderful work in your marriage and in your lives. God gets all the glory. God gets all the credit.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It’s available in our online bookstore!