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What happens when two people are fixing up a house? Inevitably, there will be disagreements in style and use. It could be the color scheme, the decorations, or the layout. The marriage relationship has a similar problem, in that it is composed of two people who are probably very different. In fact, most people tend to marry their opposite! The interest and attraction comes from how different your spouse is than you. Consider the following:
- God made men and women different biologically, chemically, and emotionally and it is these differences that generate natural curiosity and attraction. However, these same differences can cause relationship conflicts.
- People are defined by life events and circumstances. These all make you who you are and add to your uniqueness as an individual. This does however, make your point of view unique and likely different than your spouse.
- Your personality makes you unique. It is the one thing that most obviously displays your defining characteristics. I am an introvert who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful extrovert, my opposite personality! The way she opened up to me, and related so joyfully to life, made me desire in her what I was missing. Having said that, opposite personalities can generate friction and disagreements.
So, the inevitable happens and you fight. This is when your relationship is pushed to its limits. Your love is put in the pressure cooker of life. How you respond means everything to your marriage and your love life.
Three Ways to End a Fight and Make Up
1.Use the Power of Compliments
In the Book of Revelation God sends a message to seven different churches. In these letters God criticizes the churches, and He lays out a principle for criticism that can be applied to the marriage covenant. In addressing the church are Ephesus He says,
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.Revelation 2: 2-6
Notice that he compliments the church first, and last. Stuck right in the middle is the message of criticism to the church. This is the pattern of criticism in love, to blanket it in compliments.
Everything Your Spouse Does is Not Wrong
You can spend so much time criticizing each other, that it is like you ignore all the good things that your spouse does. This can drive your relationship apart, and isolate your spouse. It is like the old question, is the glass half-full or half-empty? In choosing to focus on what is missing, you take for granted what you have.
It is a sad but true reality that sometimes you don’t realize what you have until you lose it. If you completely zero in on what your spouse is not, you miss what they really are to you. Constantly focusing on what you don’t have in marriage will rob you of what you do have.
Also, consider what will happen when someone else compliments your spouse. The husband who feels like he does nothing right at home, may find someone who appreciates him elsewhere. The wife who never hears how pretty she is from her husband, may hear it from someone who is not. All of a sudden, the temptation to seek fulfillment outside of the marriage covenant is fully realized.
Practice Complimenting Each Other
Make a commitment before you criticize your spouse. As much as your spouse deserves the criticism you are about to give them, they deserve your praise for all the good things they do! Chances are, they do plenty of things that are good, you just have not been recognizing those things.
What do you have to lose by complimenting your spouse? Go out of your way to thank them for something they do, or something good about them. The following chart lists some practical examples:
|Examples of compliments to Him:||Examples of compliment to Her:|
|Thank you for working so hard to take care of our family.||You look so beautiful today.|
|You are a great father to our children.||Thank you for cooking such a great meal.|
|Thank you for being so thoughtful.||Your are the best wife a man could ask for.|
|The yard looks nice after you worked on it.||Thank you for taking care of the house.|
|I appreciate you for staying faithful to me.||I appreciate you staying faithful to me.|
|I admire you for….||I love …(a specific detail)…….about you.|
Condition Your Mind to Compliment Instead of Criticize
You can overwrite the negative tendencies in your mind by consciously making the effort to change your way of thinking. When you have a negative thought about your spouse, replace it with something positive about them. If you still feel the need to offer your criticism constructively, you can do so with an appreciation for the good in your spouse.
2. Know When to Talk and Not to Talk
Anyone who has been married for any length of time can tell you, that when you say something matters as much or more than what you are actually saying. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is like throwing a match onto your gasoline soaked relationship! This is not going to end well.
Timing is Everything
Consider the timing of your criticism, or the negative conversation that you intend on having. Is this the best time to offer criticism or talk this way to my spouse? You may want to just be blunt (this usually works best with husbands) and just ask if it is a good time. You could also try touching your spouse first (this usually works best with wives) and measure her response. If she pulls away from you, this may not be the time to bring up a constructive criticism!
Take Turns Talking and Listening
We have all been there, when anger and passions are heightened and you interrupt each other to get your point across. These types of conversations can quickly turn into a shouting match! Make your mind up before you get into this type of conversation, that you will take turns talking and listening.
Listen to your spouse until they are finished talking. Make sure you listen in an attempt to understand their point of view because buried beneath their anger could be a truth about you that you need to deal with personally. After they are finished, and you give a moment to make sure your spouse is done talking, now it is your turn to talk. This puts reason and purpose into your conversation.
If you stop to listen you may discover something about the situation and your spouse that you were unaware of. You may not have been aware that you were making your wife feel the way that she does. By listening to your husband you may find out how you have been making him feel. This is how something good and constructive can come from an argument, by listening and allowing your spouse to talk as well yourself!
Talking and listening is critical to any relationship
In your relationship with God, it is important that you not only talk to Him in prayer, but that you give Him the opportunity to speak to you. You can do this by reading your Bible, going to church, and listening to sermons. Many people have this one sided relationship with God that is unhealthy and unhelpful because they are the only ones who ever talk. You have the expectation that God will listen to you without giving Him the chance to talk to you.
The marriage relationship is basically the same. For you to have a happy and successful marriage you must have open and realistic conversations where both of you have a chance to talk about your grievances in a productive manner. You may find out that you actually have less to fight about than what you may have thought.
3. Let Go of Your Anger as Soon as Possible
The Bible gives us some pointed principles about anger that apply particularly to marriage.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.Ephesians 4: 26-27
The principle here is to not hold on to your anger too long. In this case, the admonition is basically, “don’t go to bed angry.” There comes a point where you just have to let things go. What is the point in going to bed mad each other? Even though you both may have said things in the heat of the moment that you really did not mean, just let it go. You can waste valuable time and energy by staying angry about things that are probably trivial.
Don’t allow your anger to turn to bitterness
There is a real danger in NOT fighting. If you hold onto things that you are angry about without ever confronting your spouse about them, you could develop deep resentment for those things. That resentment can turn into a bitterness that controls your actions and thoughts.
There is nothing worse in marriage than being bitter. When you feel resentful about something your spouse has done or not done, be diligent in choosing to let go of those things. Once you become bitter, it is incredibly hard to get rid of it. You make the choice to either let things go, or to hold on them and it is from this choice that resentment and bitterness springs.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;Hebrews 12: 15
It only takes a little root to make you miserable. It only takes a little root to put you in an unhappy marriage. Make the commitment with your spouse to let things go BEFORE you go to bed each night. This way each day in your marriage is like hitting the reset button!
Making up Is fun to do
The secret to a happy marriage is not in avoiding all conflict and disagreements, but in how you respond to those things. To be completely honest, one of the intimate things about marriage is making up after a fight! As discussed earlier the argument may have produced some helpful feedback about yourself in the relationship. Now it is time to let go of your anger and forgive each other. After you have made amends, act like the fight never happened.
Again, this is a lot like my relationship with the Lord. Although I may have done some things that are wrong and failed Him, He gives me the chance to make those things right. He forgives me, shows mercy, and even acts like it never happened! There are some things that God has personally dealt with me and I am sorry for those things, and I am in the process of making those things right.
However, there is joy in the process of making those things right. That is the thing about marriage, there is so much joy in the process of making things right with each other! If you never had a fight, how could you ever possibly know the awesome joy of making up!
3 ways to end a fight and make up
- Use the Power of Compliments
- Know When to Talk and When to Not Talk
- Let Go of Your Anger as soon as Possible