Yesterday, we discussed the WHO and WHAT of fighting fair in marriage:
- WHO: just you two, and maybe a counselor
- WHAT: important issues.
Today, we will focus on the WHERE and WHEN. Remember, as we discuss these two topics, that the end goal is a strong marriage. A marriage that exudes love, patience, and grace to all who are exposed to it –children, in-laws, church friends, and co-workers. Your marriage is a vital piece of your testimony, so keep it healthy by fighting the right way!
If you can, keep your arguments at home and in private. I realize that may not always be possible, but the nitty-gritty work of your relationship needs the sanctuary of home to be most effective. However, if you have a spouse who refuses to fight fair, refuses to engage in productive discussions or arguments, or insists on clamming up and not sharing, you may need a third party to help navigate rough patches. Meeting with a marriage counselor or a mentor couple, and talking through touchy subjects can be very valuable to almost any marriage.
I mentioned my husband and I brushed up against divorce a few times. Consequently, we are well versed in what a counselor can and cannot help a couple accomplish. I personally believe that very few marriages can survive long-term without the input of an outsider. I wish the church emphasized mentor couples more, but a good counselor is a great second choice.
Personally, I have found the best place to have a disagreement discussion is seated at a table, across from each other. This way you can look each other in the eye, yet maintain some possibly-very-necessary distance. If the discussion goes well, it is easy to reach across the table to grasp a hand, but if things remain touchy, there is no sense of obligation to touch that might exist if you were side-by-side on the couch. A second good choice would be separate chairs facing each other in the living or family room. I also like to keep disagreements out of the bedroom if at all possible, reserving that space for more positive interactions!
I am not, by nature, a good person to have an argument or disagreement with. Because I’m not very good at the ‘when’ part of this process. When to argue? The correct answer: as soon as practical after a problem arises. When do I usually choose to fight? As soon as I’ve let things fester for at least a few days, weeks, or months – maybe even years? Yes, I don’t like the process of having a fight, a disagreement, or an argument – so I put it off until it festers in my soul like an abscessed tooth: hurting and infected and infecting every part of my life. Then, like that abscess, I’ll pop – all the hurt and anger and misunderstanding will just pop out of me. Or that’s the way it used to be. I’ve learned better, and I hope my husband would say I do better. So, take a cue from my mistakes – and talk things out, even if it’s uncomfortable or scary, sooner rather than later.
When NOT to fight? When either of you is exhausted. Right before a big commitment, such as an important presentation at work, your daughter’s piano recital, or Thanksgiving dinner. During anything important to your spouse that cannot be postponed. (NOTE: the Super Bowl is just not the same if not watched live, but Netflix binges can be rescheduled!) Also, don’t start an argument to avoid anything – chores, sex, or family commitments. Instead, talk about why you want to avoid those things at an appropriate time.
Today’s recap: WHERE to fight: at home or in the counselor’s office. WHEN to fight: as soon as possible, but choose a good time, don’t just lay into your spouse whenever you feel like it.
Tomorrow, we look at the last two topics: WHY and HOW to fight in your marriage. We’re really getting to the nuts and bolts of fighting fair tomorrow!