We began a series two weeks ago about fighting in marriage. If you missed the last three weeks, check out Fight Club Part 1: The first rule of Fight Club, Fight Club Part 2: Break it down, and Fight Club Part 3: Dig a Pool.
As we’ve continued to state:
Healthy conflict is healthy for marriage.
It’s a certainty when two imperfect people get together with their desires and wants. As much as we don’t like to admit it, we can be very selfish individuals. Mix that with normal growing pains of a normal marriage and boom, you have conflict.
Welcome to “Fight Club.”
RULE #1: Talk about it
RULE #2: Break it down.
RULE #3: Dig a pool.
RULE #4: Dessert is mandatory.
We’re down to the end of developing a healthy way to resolve conflict within your marriage. The problem that a lot of couples have is they do not know how to resolve conflict in a way that leaves a sweet taste in their mouth. Usually, we fight and then we walk away with a bitter taste of brokeness, anger, and hurt. Because of that, most people avoid conflict because they don’t know to end it on a “sweet note.”
In this last rule, what you read is exactly what the title is encouraging you to do: have dessert. I’m a “foodie.” I like to eat. And if you’re going to end a meal the proper way, dessert is more than a suggestion to a meal. It is essential.
BUT…I want you to two stop for a second.
I want you to see the conflict like a meal. In the words of every mom on the planet, “you can’t have dessert until the meal is finished.” What’s left you may ask? Evaluation. Talk with your spouse by setting up a time and place to go over what you two were conflicted about. Setting a particular time and a designated place makes sure the two of you have no distractions and there will be complete focus. If the conflict isn’t resolved, the “meal” isn’t over.
This is why evaluation is important before “dessert.” If you haven’t had resolution to the issue, you need to stop and go back to Rule #3 and take a dip in the pool of resources to try a different idea. This way, you two continue to work together until you both see the problem resolved. I hope you get the idea that Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 gives us. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Jesus is obviously third strand, but it take you two to work together to help make the cord. The two of you straining through the conflict will draw you closer and strengthen the resolve of your marriage.
If you two meet and recognize that the conflict is resolved, it’s time for dessert.
When I and I were dating, we didn’t have much money. A typical date in college was saving up money to go to Olive Garden for the all-you-can-eat soup and salad…and, of course, bread sticks. After, we’d go to a place called “Chedders” for (brace yourself) the “Cookie Monster.”
The “Cookie Monster” is a ginormous, freshly baked cookie served on a skillet covered in hot fudge, ice-cream, whipped cream, and a cherry. Even as I type this, my mouth waters thinking about it. It was the pinnacle of our dates. We’d drive back to campus talking about how good the “Cookie Monster” was and how much we were looking forward to the next one.
Conflict can be just the same…if you end it with “dessert.”
What I mean by “dessert” is making sure that at the end of conflict, appropriate reward is given. It could be words of encouragement to your spouse because of how hard he/she worked to resolve the issue. It could be a note or an embrace of affection for your spouse that didn’t see themselves as creative but really contributed to some great ideas of how to resolve stuff. Maybe the reward is the two of you going out on a date to celebrate your love for each other as well as to celebrate finally getting over the scuffle. Whether it’s edification, gift, sex, or a moment together, couples that end conflict with “dessert” are NEVER going to fear conflict with their spouse. Why? First, because you’ve learned to handle it in a healthy way. You have followed the steps and worked together. And second, you’ve ended it on a sweet note. You both walk away from the disagreement with the sweet taste in your spirit because you both sought to reward each other for a job well done.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” A healthy approach to resolution in your marriage will produce a healthy relationship. It paves the way for forgiveness and grace to be exercised in your marriage.
Enjoy some dessert at the end.
Thanks for letting me ramble…