We began a series last week about fighting in marriage. If you missed last week, check out Fight Club Part 1: The first rule of Fight Club.
As stated last week, I believe in marriage and I believe conflict happens in marriage. But my philosophy about fighting in marriage is:
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.
Whether it was as a player or a coach, film time was of the utmost importance. The day after our game, we’d sit down and go over the film of the previous game. It wasn’t because we just wanted to watch the game over because we were bored. We had a mission in mind: we needed to break the film down.
What that meant was we (entire team) would sit and watch play-by-play to study what we did right and what we did wrong. It was exhilarating to watch a play in which you had great success. Why? The whole team was there to see and recognize the great moment you had. On the other hand, when you screwed up, the whole team watched and groaned over the mistake. Breaking down film really wasn’t a bad process unless you lost the game. Those were quieter film sessions.
As painstaking as it was, it was necessary. Why? We didn’t want to make the same mistakes against the next team. It was a time to learn and grow. The awkward film time was a great teacher. If you felt like an idiot, you needed to go with the feeling. I was able to stand back and see myself and couldn’t argue with what the results are.
More often than not, a player or two, out of embarrassment, would try to cover up for their mistakes shown on film. How you may ask? By playing the blame game. “I look dumb on film so I’ll deflect the attention on someone else and they can share the shame of the moment.” What I loved about having a great coach, he sees the entire field at once. He knows what the mistakes are. He’s willing to call them out…especially when he is at fault as well.
This next step to settling marital conflict it all about “breaking it down.” Like going through the painstaking process of watching your team lose again, you’ve got to have the guts to breakdown what is and has been happening in the conflict in your marriage.
TO MANY COUPLES DO NOT DO THIS! They don’t have a “break down the film session” and they end up on an unending carousel of conflict. You know who you are. You continue to fight over the same things over and over and over and over…
You get the picture.
Today, we’re going to help end the spinning by giving you two tips to help stop this carousel of chaos as we dissect Rule #2.
1 – Break it down: How do you contribute to the issue at hand? Conflict is increasingly difficult when people refuse to exercise humility. In most martial scuffles, there is “blood on everyone’s hands.” That simply means there is something that both parties could have done better. If you are going for the marital win, it’s easy to recognize where you may have fallen short. If you are going for the personal win, you’ll attack more and purpose to not relent until you feel vindicated for what was said/done. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” By exercising humility, you churn the soil of your marriages helping it to become moldable and teachable. I’ll say it this way: Humility digs a deep well from which wisdom can be drawn.
Could you have reacted better? Could you have used a different tone? Are you doing something that offends your spouse? Could you have communicated differently? Did you communicate enough? Are you thinking like an individual or like a spouse? There’s a lot of questions to ask yourself and, if you’re humble, you may recognize that you may be at fault just as much as you thought your spouse was.
2 – Break it down: How have you previously tried to resolve it? What are the past attempts that haven’t worked out? Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Some of us are driving our marriages insane because we never take a chance to break down how we are approaching the conflict. I hear it all the time in marital counseling, “We can’t get past __________.” My question: how do you/have you tried to resolve it. More often than not, they’ve tried a similar approach over and over to deal with the issue. Because nothing has changed, they’re ready to call it quits.
List it out…literally get out a piece of paper and pen. Write down the attempts that failed and, perhaps, why they failed. Some attempts didn’t work because the both of you did do it together. Some didn’t work because, well, it wasn’t the right approach. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” Not breaking it down and listing is “covering the offense.” Repeating a failing resolution is going to “separate” you two more and drive you both insane.
This is your “film session” for your marriage. Breaking down how your conflict has worked and how it hasn’t worked will guide you to healthy conflict resolution for the present as well as for the future. I never said this was easy. But it is simple to do.
Fight hard. Fight fair.
Then enjoy making up.
Thanks for letting me ramble…