It wasn’t exactly sound advice but, you had to admit, he had a point.
His 75yr old bushy eyes twinkled as he leaned across the table and said to me, “I learned an important piece of marriage wisdom a long time ago. When you’re having an argument with your wife, as soon as you are convinced you’re 100 percent correct, apologize immediately!”
There’d be a lot fewer arguments in marriage if this advice was followed, wouldn’t there? But, is that what a healthy argument looks like . . . cave immediately to keep the peace? No, that’s never a long-term solution.
Stuffing what you think and feel now will only lead to a destructive explosion down the road. Disagreements are inevitable. After all, this is marriage! So, how do we have an honest disagreement without it escalating into a full-scale war, dishonoring each other, damaging our relationship, and diminishing our testimony as a Christian?
Freewheeling, no-boundaries arguments may release pressure like a bursting dam but destruction always follows.
But he makes me so angry, sometimes!
She is so illogical . . . she’s out of control!
Did you know God is totally good with anger? That’s right, He is. You can’t read the Old or the New Testaments without encountering many things that make God angry. Anger is a legitimate emotion.
The Bible has a lot to say about anger but one of the things it never says is ‘Never become angry’. Even so, many live their lives as if becoming angry is the worst possible outcome – stuffing for years their legitimate emotions.
Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park and the person who stuffs his/her emotions share an important characteristic: You can count on the fact that they both are going to blow. It’s just a matter of time.
Most anger has little to do with the instructions in Scripture and, as such, is sinful and destructive. God’s way is always better but we need to remember, His way includes the emotion of anger. What does the Bible say?
Be angry but don’t sin. Ephesians 4:26
Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. James 1:19
This is anger under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Fleshly anger makes a mess of relationships. That’s why the man or woman who gives full vent to anger is called a fool in the book of Proverbs 29:11.
So which will you choose to exhibit in your next disagreement with your spouse? Anger that identifies you as a ‘fool’ or anger without sin?
Here are some practical “Keys” to consider for the next time you feel the temperature rising.
1) The “One Issue” Key. If your spouse comes to you (or you come to him/her) with an issue you want to discuss, regardless of who brought up the issue, no other issue can be interjected into the conversation. Deal only with the original issue brought up. Too often we use the mention of something our spouse would like to change as an opportunity to pull out ten examples of what he/she is doing wrong which are all designed to protect our pride and neutralize his/her point. Stick with the one, single, issue.
2) The “No Rush” Key. Don’t try to have a discussion in the heat of the moment. Your flesh may be screaming at you WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS NOW!!!! But you don’t, actually. You don’t need to talk about it now. Wisdom says “Wait!” Wait to bring up the issue at a time well after the present emotion has subsided – wait for a day or . . . for ten! You’ll both be more rational, clear-thinking, and less emotional.
3) The “I’m in Control of My Emotions” Key. Tell yourself before going in, “I’m not going to react emotionally to the answer because God has instructed me to give a soft answer, to listen, and to be slow to choose anger (yes, anger it’s a choice!).”
4) The “I’m Honestly Listening to You” Key. Listen completely to the other person – hear him/her out. Don’t be quick to jump in and over-talk each other. (remember, Be SLOW to speak?). You want to be heard, so does your spouse. Stop formulating your next point and purpose to listen.
5) The “God Desires Me to Mature” Key. Remember that this situation involves what God is doing in you both . . . you might need to change, too.
6) The “I Choose to Love You After We Disagree” Key. We don’t withhold our love from each other just because we disagree on something. Lisa and I disagree at times . . . and, why wouldn’t we? She chooses to be wrong sometimes! Okay, I’m joking but, we have discussed these things in advance and agreeing to how we would handle disagreements before they arise has greatly helped in hearing each other and working through those difficult times that are inevitable, even in the best marriages. But, even when disagreements arise, we don’t withhold love from each other.
7) The “It’s possible I may not be seeing things clearly” Key. It might be helpful for you to step into a lake or river just to remind yourself that you don’t walk on water. At times, we can be so cocksure that we are in the right, can’t we? I wish I could say I’ve never had this experience but I can’t! In fact, many times when I’ve been frustrated and wanted to let Lisa know how she’s been wrong, I’ve found out that **NEWS FLASH** there was another perspective I had never considered! Be wise. Be humble!
Discussing and committing to these Keys should never be done at the onset of a conflict. Find a neutral time and place to review them (without reference to a specific argument or situation) and purpose together to let this wisdom become the context of future conflicts.
It’s about maturing as people, and as a couple. It’s there for you, if you will embrace and walk in it.
God bless you as you walk in the oneness of unity . . . especially when you have strong disagreements!