(This article is in no way trying to diminish the significance of a quarrel – because the truth is some arguments are serious and carry deep wounds. Such instances need to be handled with sincere prayer and/or the the advice and mediation of a Godly friend, counselor or pastor.)
When Unveiled Wife posted the photo quote that read “If you’re going to argue, argue naked,” it gave me such a chuckle that I had to stop and reflect about what ways I argue in my own marriage.
Believe it or not, there is a right way and wrong way to fight with your spouse.
Here are 5 tips on arguing effectively – some were handed to us by experienced and grace-filled elders and mentors and some were learned over the years by our own trial and error.
1. Keep it private. (Kids deserve to be kids. They deserve a childhood free from adult stresses.)
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
There are varying degrees to this rule. I do and have many times argued with my husband in front of my kids. Most of our arguments come to a relatively quick and easy resolution and that is important for my children to know. I want them to understand that it’s okay that mom and dad don’t agree on everything and that through communication comes reconciliation. And most importantly, I want them to know that we still love each other – even when we argue. If you feel like your argument isn’t going to come to a quick resolution, it might be better to take it behind closed doors.
There are also times that arguing is not okay to do in front of your children. My parents were divorced by the time I was five. Because of my young age, I don’t have very many memories of my parents together. The few that I do have are of them arguing. Thankfully, their arguments weren’t abusive, but the volume of their arguments and their voices is memorable. I remember the helplessness of listening to my parents fight. I wasn’t old enough to understand what they were saying, but I remember feeling my heart ache with sadness by the tones of their voices as they tossed words back and forth. The truth is, it changed me. Parental conflicts can change the God-given path of a child. Even in the heat of the moment – do your best to shield your children from arguments that can negatively impact their hearts.
Not only is it important to be cautious of the degree of arguing in front of your children – it’s important to keep your arguments off of social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all fun methods to stay in touch with your friends and family. They are, however, NEVER a good idea to use to vent about how upset, hurt, angry or disappointed you are in your spouse. To use these outlets to speak unkindly of your spouse, in any way, can create deep wounds and resentment.
2. Keep it Focused (Wait, what were we fighting about again?)
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up-building.” Romans 14:19
If you started your discussion talking about the dirty clothes piled on the bathroom floor and now you are arguing over what his mother said to you last week – you’ve already lost the battle. Keep it focused.
It’s never a good idea to bring up other unresolved issues. Even worse, to remind him of things you are have already “forgiven” him about. If it’s been resolved, keep it that way. If he’s been forgiven, let him be. If it’s a topic worth discussing – bring it up at a better time.
3. Keep it Clean (No name calling. Never. Ever. Ever.)
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
Name calling and insults not only create deep wounds but they also teach your spouse to build up walls. What once may start as a humorous joke can eventually turn into a hurtful jab. Not one of us deserve to be called a name by the one our heart seeks to love the most. A healthy marriage won’t survive with walls built up around our hearts. It’s important to feel safe in your marriage and name calling your spouse is a sure-fire method of stripping your marriage of it’s comfort, protection and trust.
4. It’s an argument, not a contest. (There shouldn’t be a winner)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree. Don’t let pride interfere with your reconciliation. I’ve done that before and it’s simply just not the way God intended for marriages to work. Don’t forget to forgive your spouse.
5. And finally, if all else fails…
“If you have to argue, then argue naked.” (I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s now on my list of things to do.)
Remember the man whom you fell in love with. Remember those moments of laughter and easiness with one-another. If they feel far away and unreachable – ask for God to restore that light-heartedness back into your marriage. He won’t fail you. “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1