You’ve heard authors, TV personalities, even preachers say, “Just fight fair. We know you’re going to fight, but don’t hurt your spouse when you do.” Let’s define fighting.
adrenaline is pumping
tempers are hot
emotions are frazzled
words are flying around like poisoned darts
Not hurting your spouse during this type of exchange is almost impossible. Because of the highly emotional state, things typically are said that hurt your spouse and your relationship. You can disagree (i.e., have conflict – everyone has conflict) about something and have a rational conversation that leads to resolution. Just don’t let it turn into a mud-slinging, name-calling fight.
Fighting isn’t going to resolve anything, and it
WILL HURT YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
You’ll end up being bitter and resentful toward your spouse.
Very few people we’ve met can “fight fair.”
We hear this a lot. “All we do is fight. We can’t ever have a conversation without ending up yelling at each other. I’m just so tired of hurting my spouse.” Treating this symptom could look like just agreeing with whatever your spouse wants. Never voicing a different opinion–basically becoming a doormat. This is one way to treat the symptom and will temporarily cut down on the fighting. However, it’s not going to make you feel good about yourself and resentment is going to start building. This usually ends in an even bigger fight than you use to have and more bitterness and maybe even contempt. You see fighting isn’t about just a difference of opinion.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1
Yes, fighting comes from desires within. So the reason you fight with your spouse is not money, sex or time. We fight because we have desires that are not being met and unmet desires make us uncomfortable, so we lash out at the people closest to us, usually our spouse. The people we should love and cherish the most are the ones who take the biggest blast of bitterness and anger for not making us happy.
WE’RE YELLING AT THE PEOPLE WHO WE THINK NEED TO CHANGE SO THAT WE’LL BE HAPPY.
IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU’RE FIGHTING WITH YOUR SPOUSE, YOU ARE SAYING,
“You’ve got to change, so I’ll be happy!”
If this is your attitude – You’re positioning your spouse as the
PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION.
Wait – What? – Yes, this is true! Let me repeat this important concept. If you want your spouse to change because they are the problem, and you think that you’ll be happy if they change – that makes them the problem and the solution. This is impossible. Your spouse cannot be BOTH the problem and solution! If you think your spouse needs to change so you can be happy – you’ve just said they are the problem and the solution.
By putting your spouse in this position, you’re placing yourself as the victim with no control in the relationship. Victims believe they have zero responsibility for anything. They aren’t the problem or the solution, so they have no agency in their own life. Life just happens to them, and then they blame others for their own issues.
Let me encourage you not to throw away the ability to make change happen in your life and your marriage. By giving up your ability or “agency,” you are handing the reins of everything you are to someone else to play with as they will. Take back your agency and hold yourself responsible for the things you can change.
Adults – Believe that you are ridiculously in charge of most of what happens in your world.
Most decisions are not binary – just two options (i.e., either I do, or I don’t). There may be more great solutions that you can use. By doing this exercise, you can choose to take back agency in your life.
Example: My spouse rarely says they love me.
You could interpret this as:
a) My spouse still loves me, but not as much as they used to
b) They don’t love me at all anymore
This is binary thinking (either this or that), but perhaps there are other explanations:
c) Maybe they are completely overloaded at work and stressed
d) Could be they are having doubts about themselves, and so they are hesitant to affirm their love for me
e) Other explanations
Binary thinking locks us into either – THEY ARE FOR US OR AGAINST US!
This is not how life really works. Most people and most situations have more than a two option decision process.
In summary, fighting with your spouse is never a good option. If you start getting emotionally flooded, becoming too angry, or saying nasty things to your spouse during a discussion, take a break!!!!
- Come back together after you’ve both calmed down and talk about the issue.
- Listen to each other.
- Search for areas where you can agree.
This will help you make more progress toward resolving the issue, and you won’t have to end up spending so much time apologizing for those terrible things you said.
Also look at the options of multiple answers to any issue. There are usually more than two answers, and the chances are that you and your spouse can find other options that you can both agree on. Get past the either/ or of binary thinking. Plus, don’t give up your agency over your own life by making your spouse the problem and the solution. This only gives your authority away and makes you the victim.
In the comment section below, let us know if you found the “stop fighting” blog helpful.