Love may be blind, but Marriage is an eye opener! A classic one-liner but so true – Marriage can be tough! Marriage is a wonderful medium for love to grow richer and deeper as it is tested in the realities of the day to day of life. But in the day to day of real life, we soon throw away the marriage cliche’s like it’s “50-50″ or even – “Its 110% – 110% as the sugar coating is licked away by the pressures of life; mortgage, job, kids and the seemingly endless demands on our resources! A healthy marriage is nurtured by healthy love and dispenses with any such superfluous measures. Healthy marriages realize that, in some seasons of married life, one partner may have to do the majority of the lifting because sometimes the other isn’t in a space where they can. This takes huge understanding, commitment and tenacity, and sometimes the help of a seasoned marriage counselor. Rest assured a season will come when the roles may be reversed.
There is a misnomer that the presence of conflict in a relationship means the marriage is unhealthy. The absence of conflict is something more to be concerned with. The complete absence of conflict in a marriage can be a symptom of resignation and contempt where one or both partners have a sense of futility and disdain for one another. This occurs when conflict has not been handled well. While conflict can be toxic when it is not dealt with in healthy ways, it can be incredibly fruitful when we honestly address and work to resolving our conflict in healthy ways. The ability to steward conflict in our marriages in healthy ways will open the door to greater intimacy, safety and communication with your spouse. This contributes to a long, happy and healthy marriage!
One of the biggest things we’ve had to learn in our marriage is fighting fair! We need to keep in mind the goal of a healthy marriage is a healthy marriage, but sadly, it is often reduced to winning. You may win the battle, but you will lose your marriage! This attitude blows up marriages every day. The goal of healthy conflict is a healthy marriage where each partner learns to choose to serve the other for the sake of the relationship. If this is the goal then our communication, posturing and our strategies for dealing with conflict change! No longer about winning or having to be right, it is about serving each other and genuinely loving each other towards the health of the marriage and our families.
Fighting Fair to Strengthen your Marriage!
- Deal with the issues. Failure to deal with your personal issues and the issues of your marriage will guarantee you have to visit them again! True love is courageous!
- Listen to your Spouse. Respond to what they say not what you think they are implying about you. Try to listen through the ears of love. Love chooses to believe the best.
- Listen for fear, shame, embarrassment or hurt behind the anger. Love is discerning, gentle and kind.
- Be careful not to blame. Instead of “you never…” or “you always…” try rephrasing like “I feel _______ when you do / say _______ . This can disarm the defensiveness in your partner. Love builds up.
- Time Out! Feeling like you are starting to lose your cool? Take a break, go for a walk, and read, pray and then try again. Love hopes and perseveres.
- No diggin’ up bones. The past is in the past. Deal with what is now. Love forgives and doesn’t keep score.
- No Talking Trash. Name calling or insults do not help! Watch that you are not using back-handed, passive-aggressive put-downs either. Love builds up and speaks the truth in love.
- Forgive each other. Be deliberate about asking for forgiveness and just as deliberate about extending it to your spouse. Love forgives.
- Stuck? Seek the assistance of a competent Marriage Counselor who can help you communicate with each other and in some cases, help you translate your feelings into words your spouse can understand. Love is patient. Love never gives up.
- Pray with and for each other. This is not bringing your gripes to God but a genuine, heartfelt attempt to pray together for God’s help to work through the issue together in a genuinely loving way and asking for the grace to forgive, to hear and to love in a deeper way. Love is merciful, love reconciles, and love protects.