Five years ago marks the beginning of my marriage – a marriage that I believed would begin with nothing but joy and love. Instead, I was faced with a much different reality. While I should have known it would come, I did not plan for the arguments and countless disagreements that we would go through – arguments that were rooted in selfishness, anger, pride, and bitterness. These were arguments that did not include the love we promised to one another on our big day. It began to feel that we did not even truly know each other and questions of the love behind our marriage began to rise.
You must anticipate the fact that arguments, fights, disagreements or however you choose to call them will happen with your significant other. They are bound to happen. They are meant to happen. The challenge is what to do when they come up and how to go through with such arguments.
I believe arguments in marriage to be necessary. People learning to live with one another in such close quarters, learning to do life as one, is a challenge. However, these arguments need to be spoken and acted on in love.
Those times of frustration and annoyance with one another will happen. The key is what to do when they do happen. Before arriving at a full out yelling match or a five-day silent-treatment, ask yourself these 5 questions.
- Did you pray? In advance to bringing an issue to your spouse’s attention, come to God. Give your feelings and frustrations to God first. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance in how to talk this over with your spouse and for His hand to be present through it all. In the following verse we are reminded to come to God in EVERY situation: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
- Are you texting? Or emailing? If you are, STOP. Serious conversations are best to happen in person or if you must, over the phone. It is easy to make statements over texting that you would not normally say in person. It is more likely to misinterpret what the other person is saying. To avoid further arguing, wait to do so for when you are able to truly talk to the other person, hearing their words, their tone of voice, and their true heart of the matter. Take the arguing seriously enough to make it a face to face conversation. Be reminded from Matthew 12:37 – “…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”. Guard your words and that which you say and be careful with how you come across.
- Is your statement passive aggressive? Are you acting in any passive aggressive manner? This not only has the intention of hurting the other person, but it also does not allow for any progress to be made. Passive aggressive statements result in further arguing, hurt feelings, and frustration. They do not allow you to get to the true point you are trying to make and therefore don’t help you or your spouse. In Ephesians it states “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29. Within your arguments do not allow your words to become corruptive or demeaning.
- Are you arguing out of selfish pride or selfless love? Marriage is about being selfless; again and again and again. If you are arguing because of your own pride than you are allowing your selfish desires to come first. Be sure to take time to consider how your spouse may be feeling and what his/her side is. If you are arguing out of selfless love you are being intentional about putting your spouse’s needs above your own. This is what is required of us as Christian spouses. In Philippians we are reminded to be humble in the presence of others, looking to others’ interests. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-10.
- What did YOU do wrong? In most cases the wrongful act is not one sided. We each have a responsibility and part in what went wrong. Evaluate what you did and own up to it first and foremost. This takes humility. It is against our human nature to ignore our own wrongdoings. Humble yourself and learn from your own mistakes and shortcomings. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughtier spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18. Break down that pride by admitting your wrongdoing.
As these few years have gone my spouse and I have gotten better at arguing, better at loving amidst the disagreements. Don’t allow yourself to become too deep in the arguing that you miss the point. If you already have, take the time to ask yourself these 5 questions, and begin a change by arguing with your spouse in love.