Read: “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26
If conflict is inevitable in marriage, how to we deal with it in a Christ-centered way? Is there a right way to argue? Today, we’re going to look at ten “nevers” for fighting. These aren’t an if/then list - a “if you do this, then you can fix your spouse and end arguing for good” list that some conflict resolution books promise. Instead, think of them as gospel “best practices” for approaching conflict in a healthy way, full of grace.
1. Never respond to your spouse rashly.
Our gut reaction is often a cruel comeback. Take a moment to process your feelings and respond thoughtfully and maturely.
2. Never touch your spouse out of temper or frustration - ever.
This one should be self-explanatory. No slapping, no hitting, no punching. Ever.
3. Never seek to shame your spouse in public.
Seeking to belittle your spouse in public is not godly. Hold your tongue, and wait until the both of you can deal with your conflict in private.
4. Never fight in front of your kids (or use them as leverage in a disagreement.)
Your kids are learning to fight from you. Your sons are learning how to treat the women in their lives, and your daughters are learning what kind of treatment to accept from men, and how to treat men in return. What kind of lessons are you teaching them?
5. Never mention your spouse’s parents or any other family member.
“You’re just like your mother.” “Well if your family wasn’t so insane, maybe they would have raised you better.” There are few things that cut as deeply. Bringing in family members open up old, painful wounds. Leave them out of it.
6. Never dig up the past; try to stay on topic.
If God will blot out our sins and think of them no more (Isaiah 43:25,) why are we so quick to bring out a list of receipts of every past mistake our spouse has made? It’s because we’re looking to win, not to resolve the conflict. Keep the argument on the issue at hand.
7. Never try to win.
It’s been asked of many a married couple, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” When we try to win a fight, we miss the chance for real reconciliation with our spouse, and focus on what we can get out of the argument.
8. Never yell, use put-downs, or verbally defame your spouse.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is such a lie. We can all remember words that cut us, creating wounds that we have carried with us for the rest of our lives. Raising your voice in anger doesn’t fix things.
9. Never withhold physical intimacy or use sex to manipulate.
Sex is a celebration of two souls joining together. It shouldn’t be used as a reward or withheld as a punishment in order to manipulate others into doing what we want.
10. Never put off seeking resolution.
This one is hard. We can get so caught up in our feelings that we don’t want to be the first to apologize. But putting off resolution breeds resentment and gives the devil a foothold in our homes. Don’t go to bed angry.
Now for many of us, this list is difficult. A lot of us weren’t raised in an environment where people sought to resolve conflict in a gospel-centered way. For many of us, yelling was just a part of life; it’s what comes naturally. But we’ve got to put aside what comes naturally, and put on the Spirit.
Pray: God, let me start a new chapter in my life with these guides. Even though I may not have had the best example growing up, remind me that I can set a godly example for my spouse and my kids in the way I react. In Jesus’ name, Amen.