Have you ever found yourself at odds with your spouse, and what started out as a simple disagreement turned into a fight? Then you forget what even started it in the first place. Conflict can be a great test of your character. How do you respond when you are hurt or misunderstood: with grace and repentance or just stubbornness and pride? Communicating kindly even when you’re frustrated is a skill that takes time to learn!
- Be honest with yourself and each other.
Do you ever find yourself bending the truth just slightly to suit your own narrative? We all do it! I often disguise my true feelings with half-truths or talk about unrelated issues to avoid having to be vulnerable. Speaking the whole truth is powerful and perhaps the hardest thing to do. It’s easier for me to just place blame on my husband than to look inward. The goal isn’t brutal honesty but vulnerable honesty.
- Take a break for prayer.
If things are getting heated, a short, defined break can be helpful. Quiet your heart to ask God for wisdom. What am I not seeing here? Why am I so angry? Time to reflect and pray can put you in a better place to resolve the argument. The real battle is not with each other but is in our own hearts. Prayer is where God shows us the condition of our hearts.
- Find the win
Joe and I often talk about looking for the “win." The Win is: How can we resolve this so that neither of us walks away the loser? If you’re not careful in how you communicate during a fight, you can make your spouse feel ashamed, rejected, and worthless. This took us a long time to learn: how do we talk so we both feel heard and validated? Focus less on who is right and who is wrong and find the win.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
Joe and Tara Buchanan have been married for 23 years and have four children. They have a passion for building strong marriages, and they share more of their story on their blog, Behind Our Smiles.
- Apologize and forgive.
Ending an argument is not saying “I’m done talking about this.” Resolving conflict in a way that builds your marriage has to include apologizing and forgiving. If your spouse calls you on hurtful behavior, apologize. That’s often all we really want - for our spouse to acknowledge that they hurt us. If your spouse apologizes, forgive. Forgiveness in marriage is not just an act but a posture: if God can forgive me for what I’ve done, then I can forgive those who have hurt me. The more we’re aware of how much we’ve been forgiven by God, the more eager we are to forgive others.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? James 4:1