Fighting Fair in Love and War
By Ben McGuire
We sat on our blanket at the drive-in movie, not speaking. Not touching. Icy silence blew through the gap between us.
This was our first real argument. Not the simple disagreements or miscommunications of marriage.
The kind that wounds.
During our marriage prep, the pastor said, “If you ranked highs and lows on a scale from 0-10, your relationships with others will top out at 7 and bottom out at 3. Your spouse, though, will bring you as high as 10 and as low as 0: highs that are unimaginable and pain you didn’t think possible.”
At the drive-in, where we might have been amorous newlyweds, that moment had arrived.
Before our wedding, our pastor gave a simple assignment. Create “Rules of Engagement”: our own pre-established guidelines for conflict resolution.
You probably think of “Rules of Engagement” when it comes to war and fighting an enemy.
You have a very real enemy who desires to drive you apart. And conflict is a favorite weapon.
Prepare for his schemes and determine to fight them at all costs. Battling the enemy’s lies is impossible, however, if you view your spouse as the enemy.
Instead, fight for your spouse and your marriage.
Here are seven guidelines that have framed our resolve to fight fair throughout our marriage.
1. Don’t avoid conflict by walking away.
2. We will talk everything out honestly before saying we’re “OK.”
3. Don’t criticize the other person in public.
4. Don’t wait for the other person to ask what’s wrong.
5. Avoid “You always…” or “You never…” statements.
6. Don’t bring up past issues (see #2).
7. Don’t talk to other people before talking with each other.
Guidelines don’t always guarantee quick and simple resolution. We left the drive-in with tension hanging between us and talked for hours, implementing our “rules.”
And before our heads hit our pillows, we found grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
The Good Stuff: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Action Points: Reflect on how you approach conflict with your spouse. Take some time to create your own “Rules of Engagement.” Commit to pursuing your spouse in a loving manner in resolving conflict.
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