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Is there such a thing as fighting fair? Absolutely. There is no perfect marriage or relationship of any type. Whether it’s a church relationships, siblings, co-workers, etc., no relationship is perfect and there will be arguments. However, if handled properly, conflict can lead to a deeper level of intimacy.
There are many reasons couples have disagreements. They can have; a difference of opinion, under stress, or just out right argumentative.
When we experienced hardships, it brought a great deal of stress between us. We were easily offended, or irritated with each other. And after a while, the fighting began to take a toll not just on us, but our family, our ministry, and it began to reflect a bad attitude in our behavior in our business.
We recall sitting down with our spiritual mentors Ed and Lorri, who explained the things we were going through were difficult, but what made it worse was our inability to fight fair. They walked us through how important it was for us to stay unified; so that we wouldn’t give the enemy any room in our relationship.
There was too much at stake, to allow the enemy to come between us.
There were times André would call Ed to ask his opinion about something he was considering. And the first thing Ed would ask him was, “what does your wife think about that?” André would be sitting there thinking what does she have to do with this? And Ed’s response was, “everything.”
When we are unified in our marriage, it brings honor to God and others watching us will be able to see the unity and ultimately see God. After all, the marriage relationship is supposed to mirror Christ and the Church.
1 Peter 3:7 (NLT) says: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
Too many wives want to point this out and say: “see here; if you don’t treat me right, your prayers are going to be hindered.”
Well, that is not entirely correct. The scripture says in the same way. Meaning wives not only are you to do your part, but in the same way as you are doing your part, your husband is doing his. Then your prayers will not be hindered.
You may be asking: how do we do that when we are arguing or at odds? Simple, fight fair. Lay down some ground rules for arguments, or we like to refer to them as fighting fair. Our mentors encouraged us to consider some guidelines that not only became an anchor for our marriage, but we have encouraged other couples to use these when dealing with conflict.
We know it’s impossible to never have an argument, and if you secretly argue where the kids don’t know you are arguing; you are giving them the wrong impression that marriage is perfect.
As a result, when they get married and have an argument; they will feel like a failure. It’s ok for children to see healthy fighting. It displays a healthy marriage that knows how to handle conflict, bringing the family closer together, as opposed to tearing them apart.
So how do we fight fair?
Here are 5 of the 10 guidelines for fighting fair. There is a link at the bottom of this post for you to download the complete list.
Before sitting down to discuss a matter, examine your own heart and ask God what you could have done differently and to help you communicate in a manner that’s honorable before Him. Prayer will make all the difference!
Communicate how important it is to discuss the matter and determine a time that works for both of you. If you force communication when someone’s heart is not ready, you will miss a great opportunity for resolution.
This can be difficult, especially if you hear something you immediately find a problem with. However, if you can learn to let one person speak in a calm manner, expressing their heart, it will pave the way for clear communication.
If someone brings a matter to your attention that is bothering them, it would be unfair to use that as an opportunity to say, “Well, I don’t like when you did this…” If you have not come to the other person in love to discuss a matter that concerned you, it is unfair to bring it up in an argument about something else. That’s NOT fighting fair. It’s a sucker punch and has no creditability or productivity in the heat of the moment.
Do not use past mistakes as weapons. Try to stay focus on the issue at hand. Even if there are many issues to deal with. Try to get to the root of one problem at a time. If issues in the past have been dealt with and forgiven, then leave them in the past.
Regardless if you are in a marriage relationship, these guidelines will work for resolving any relational conflict. Remember, when handled properly conflict can lead to a greater level of intimacy in a relationship. It was in our darkest moments that we were the most argumentative. However, learning to fight fair not only brought us closer. We grew stronger in our marriage and became better equipped to resolve new challenges in a manner that honored God.
PS…To print the complete list for positive communication given to us by our spiritual mentors, click here.
Photo Credit Words Added By Living Our Priorities
~André and Timberley Gray
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