There is always one winner of a dirty fight – Satan. His goal is to cause division in the first institution that God used to build His church – marriage. When the two become one (Genesis 2:24), any injury inflicted is done to “us.” Does it really matter who’s right if you destroy your spouse along the way? Even if a divorce does not ensue, a wounded couple can never be useful in God’s economy. Satan wins. Can’t you see him smiling in his front row seat to your fights?
Who’s doing the fighting?
The movie, “The War Room,” showed where battles should be fought – in prayer.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
Lest we forget, Satan has an army who is numerous, powerful, wicked and clever. And even though there is an army, it doesn’t take much to redirect our focus on ourselves. Let the fight begin. God wants us to work as a team to cast Satan out of our homes. Couples who pray together, stay together.
Where does dirty fighting come from?
- Family of Origin: Where did you learn your dirty fighting? Was this your parents fighting style? Siblings? Unfortunately, few of us have been taught good conflict resolution skills before we got married. We do what we know, which often sets us in destructive cycles. The good news is that good conflict resolution skills can be learned.
- Hurt people hurt people: Past “hurts,” such as abuse, may trigger damaging words and actions. Identifying the source of the pain and the prism through which life is viewed is critical to understanding your spouse so you can love them through it, instead of fighting and causing more pain.
- Physiological: You may not be thinking, but instead reacting. When angry, brain scans show the front of the brain (neo-cortex) that does the thinking is not active, and the back area (limbic brain) where emotions reside is red hot. This occurs when we are “in love,” when we break up, and for the purpose of this article, when we get angry.
The problem is we try to resolve our conflicts when we are angry (no thinking).
Conflict is good.
The beauty of God’s creation is its diversity. You did not marry your twin. You married someone God wants to use to make you more than you are alone and make the two of you useful in ways that two individuals cannot accomplish. And let’s face it, there’s no better place to learn humility.
Healthy conflict resolutions take two points of view and find the best solution for “us,” which is often something that would not have been sought by either of you individually. When your focus is upward, the resolution is what’s best for the Kingdom.
Consider that our sin nature makes us enemies of God (Romans 5:10).
What did Jesus do?
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
“Instead, he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave, and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
Jesus’s goal for conflict was reconciliation. He reconciled us to Him, even though we did not deserve it. Do you believe your spouse “deserves” punishment or blessing? Which will you be for him/her?
What can you do?
- Find a class that deals with conflict resolution. Locally, Living Water Counseling offers Saturday classes and life skills classes. Live the Life offers Adventures in Marriage and Hope Weekends. Other well-known teachers/ministries visit, such as Gary Chapman or the Weekends to Remember by Family Life.
- Bring up differences when they arise. Don’t let them fester. Choose a calm time (not mad), pray first, start with why you appreciate your spouse. Then share how you feel, not what he/she does. (Avoid “you” statements.)
- Be a safe place. Listen to your spouse and try to empathize.
- Get off your throne. Be humble, selfless and us-oriented.
- Review the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the definition of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) and ask God to give you that.
- Stay forward-looking and don’t rehash the past.
- And don’t get discouraged. It’s a process. Remember …
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Patricia Hartman is a forensic CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. (www.khwcpa.com), a speaker, author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” (www.ChristianPrenuptial.com), president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.