I’m not one for confrontation. I don’t enjoy a good argument. I don’t feel better after a difficult conversation. Now, don’t get me wrong, in the 12 years of my marriage, my husband and I have had our fair share of fights (just going to call them what they are). But fights in and of themselves are not all that bad, IF, as a couple you get to the heart of the issue.
I have heard it said that fighting in marriage is like fire. It can do one of two things, it can shed light or it can consume.
A heated discussion is not the place for accusation, insincere apologies, and name calling. Those things are gasoline to the fire. In my marriage, I have identified some fighting words. Common words or phrases that pack a big punch. And whenever I say these phrases, I am not shedding light on a situation, I am pouring gasoline on the fire.
Here are 3 from my marriage. I am sure there are more.
I am sorry you feel that way.
I’m sorry you feel that way is not an apology. It is code for, “you are overreacting.” No one wants to be told they are overreacting especially when they are overreacting! True love says, “I am sorry I made you feel that way. Help me understand what I did.”
What were you thinking?
What were you thinking is code for, “you are a large child who doesn’t know how to act.” What were you thinking might as well be followed by, “you idiot.” I don’t like to have my face rubbed into a bad decision, but I often struggle with giving others the grace I would want to be given to me. True love says, “We all make mistakes. I forgive you.”
Why are you in a bad mood?
Now this one, this one is huge. Why are you in a bad mood is like punching my husband in the face and saying, “Let’s fight.” No one likes to be reminded they are in a bad mood, ESPECIALLY if it is true. True love seeks to do something kind for the person having the bad day. It doesn’t call them out.
Like my husband said this past weekend, relationships take work. It is so true. It takes work not to let a disagreement escalate into a huge fight. I certainly don’t get this right every time. But I am learning that relationships require grace. The grace to try and understand the other person’s feelings. Grace to forgive. And grace to overlook an offense.