I can’t say that Anne and I ever fought while dating. Both of us were very compromising about most issues…well every issue. I don’t think it was because we were so compatible (see “The Myth of Compatibility“). I think we had no desire to “stir the waters”. It could have been out of fear and avoidance. It could’ve been for a lack of knowledge of how to deal with conflict. It probably was all of the above. But for whatever reason, conflict was restrained and nonexistent.
Then the dreaded day of days happened: Registering for our wedding shower. It started with toasters. Apparently, the toaster I liked didn’t “go” with the kitchen she envisioned. This was new territory for us (conflict, not toasters). Conflict was a path that we had never traveled before. We were perplexed. Personally, I felt like I had no say or opinion. She felt like I didn’t understand. We didn’t know what to do with this.
My way of resolving it: I gave in to her stupid toaster.
Then it got worse. Out of frustration of not getting MY toaster, I took the scanner Target gave us and I scanned a bag of pretzels and a bottle of Coke. That was all it took. The gloves came off. Right there in Target, voices were raised, tears were flowing, and two stubborn individuals went toe-to-toe. What was this fight even about?
I want to give you a TRUTH: There are battles in our marriage have no reason or right to be fought. I call them “fruitless arguments”. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have disagreements. But there are people who firmly strive for debates and arguments. It’s what they get their identity from. If that’s you, stop getting your spouse ticked off because it’s “fun”. Grow up and treat him/her with respect!
2 Timothy 2:23 says, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.” The context of the verse isn’t about marriage. BUT…there is a powerful warning that comes from it that we can easily apply to marriage.
The words “don’t get involved” comes from one Greek word paraitéomai. The word is used in a number of ways that means refuse, deny, shun, etc. Now hang with me here…
One of the ancient uses for this particular word is excusing yourself for not accepting a wedding invitation. Now read the verse in the context of marriage. “In your marriage, decline the invitation of foolish, ignorant arguments.” Don’t even entertain them. Avoid them. They are unfruitful. See past them to the bigger issues.
Our stupid little scuffle was just, to use a cliché, the tip of the iceberg. If we really took a proper look at the situation, we would have seen beyond the foolishness. We needed to see past toasters and pretzels to see we had some serious breakdowns. We were not communicating expectations correctly and we absolutely sucked at conflict resolution. But what got in the way was our pride. And pride will keep you blind to your selfishness and send you into an argument in a “when at all costs” mentality. The problem is when couples don’t check their pride at the door and “fruitless arguments” cost the joy, peace, and possibly the marriage.
Am I saying you won’t have fights? Absolutely not. When two imperfect, broken individuals get married, you’re going to have scuffles. As I said last Sunday, if you two are the same all the time, then one of you is not necessary. The point is to keep clear of foolish, unproductive, and ignorant fights. There’s nothing productive to them.
How do you avoid pointless arguments?
1. Work on your communication skills. If you wait to work on them when tempers start rising, it’s too late. Get working on them today.
2. Chill out and take a seat. Take a chance to calm down and think through what needs to be communicated. What is the main point? Is that really the main point or is there a bigger issue at hand?
3. You don’t have to always win. Stop being competitive with things that have no right to be competitive about. If you are a “win at all costs” person, you will lose EVERY time.
4. Speak with respect. Pointless arguments have no room for respect. When you foster respect and honor, you chase away that which wants to make you unfruitful.
5. Active listening. Eye contact, head nodding, being able to identify what your spouse is feeling as well as being able to restate back to them what you’ve just heard. Like communication, active listening has to be worked on before fights begin.
Listen to the next verse, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”
Do you see the words given? They’re a tremendous help to defend and guide fruitless arguments and create “fruitful fights”.
1. Kind: Showing genuine kindness. Even if we don’t think he/she deserves it.
2. Able to teach: This means stepping into the situation educated about what is going on instead of flying off the handle without knowing the facts. You can see the side of it and be objective about it…especially if you find you are at fault.
3. Patiently enduring evil: Patience is severely underestimated especially if what is being done to you is wrong/evil. Exercise patience with your spouse and don’t let your temper feed the flames.
4. Gentleness: It’s not about being a wuss. Nor is it sugar-coating the topic. This is being gentle in words, spirit, and actions as to be able to convey communication in a way that your spouse will hear and receive the info.
The prize? Fruitfulness. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Can you get better fruit than repentance (having a change/transformation of mind and heart) and escape from that which trapped you? I can’t imagine so.
Be fruitful with your fights. Walk in wisdom and humility.
TRUTH: Don’t look for you get a win. Look for your marriage to win!
Practice patience & discretion to keep the peace in your home.
Thanks for letting me ramble…