If you’ve been married for any longer than a minute, you’ve probably found yourself in the middle of a lovers spat. When emotions run high, fighting fair in marriage can quickly fall to the wayside. Unfortunately, unfair fighting in marriage is one of the things that can hurt a marriage. It’s especially tempting to break the rules when your partner doesn’t fight fair. Right?
Once we learn how to stay calm when fighting with our spouse it leads to more productive arguing. As a result, productive arguing leads to conflict resolution in marriage.
Has fighting fair in your marriage ever fallen to the wayside? Do you ever engage in blows below the belt? If we’re honest… I think we all have!
My husband and I still laugh about an argument we had when newly married. It all started with a lottery ticket and a simple question – what would you buy if we won the lottery? We can’t remember how it happened, but we both threw all the rules of fighting fair out the window. Honestly, how do you fight about money you haven’t even won?!
15 Rules for Fighting Fair in Marriage
Prayer gets our eyes off the situation and fixed on Christ. Our heart and head are more aligned with God’s agenda, rather than our own. Whether you pray with your spouse or alone, prayer will reap blessings as you align with God.
#2 Don’t Mirror Unfair Fighting in Marriage
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” -Proverbs 26:4
We ultimately answer to God for how we respond when our partner doesn’t fight fair. I can’t point to my spouse’s behavior as an excuse for mine. This is one of the biggest hurdles couples face in resolving conflict in marriage…one spouse takes a jab below the belt and the other spouse follows suit.
When your partner doesn’t fight fair, do you have a tendency to follow suit?
Before your next disagreement, be resolved to follow the rules of fighting fair in marriage no matter what your spouse is doing.
#3 Give Fair Warning!
Don’t take your spouse off guard with guerrilla warfare tactics. In case you’re not familiar, guerrilla warfare is a surprise attack. It’s much like jumping out of the bushes and shouting, “We need to talk!”.
Chances are, you’ve had time to think things over – give your spouse the same advantage. Set aside a time to talk that works for you both.
#4 Be a
Good Great Listener
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” -James 1:19
Great listeners are slow to speak. As a result, they take in what their spouse is saying. When your spouse is talking do you, A) really listen or B) begin forming a rebuttal?
The other thing great listeners do? Ask great questions… which brings me to number five.
#5 Seek to Understand
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” -Proverbs 20:5
Asking lots of questions is the path to understanding and resolution. Nothing leads me to feel more heard than when my husband asks me questions about what I’m saying. Even if we ultimately disagree in the end, I know I’ve been heard.
#6 Stay on Topic
It’s so easy to get off topic when in the middle of a disagreement. The dialogue starts and rabbit trailing follows. This is especially common when we deflect criticism. Deflecting criticism means to prevent criticism from being directed at you. Do you ever do this?
When we deflect criticism, we’re dodging the topic. Consequently, the topic changes from the original point. If both spouses are doing this – there are so many rabbit trails we get lost and can’t find our way back to the first topic.
I find it helpful to write the original topic down at the beginning. Write a simple sentence, pointing back to it when you veer off topic. As a result conflict resolution in marriage will instantly improve and you will have more productive arguing (i.e. conflict resolution in marriage).
#7 Stop Comparing
Don’t make comparisons between your spouse and another person. It’s hurtful and sends a “you’re not enough” message.
Resist the temptation to make the comparisons in your mind as well. Comparison will only lead to discontent which hurts your marriage.
#8 Avoid Making Assumptions
Fighting fair in marriage is not possible when making assumptions (more on that here). In fact, if you wanna know how to stay calm when fighting with your spouse, don’t start assuming your spouse’s thoughts or motives.
So why do we do we make assumptions? Our brains are made to fill in the gaps of missing information. As a result, we assume our partners motives and thoughts. That’s. Not. Fair. It definitely does not promote conflict resolution in marriage.
The way around this habit? Ask the hard questions. Questions lead to clarity!
#9 No Insults or Yelling Allowed
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” -Romans 14:19
These are below the belt activities. Conflict in marriage will quickly escalate with insults and yelling. Also, insulting your partner is exactly what hurts a marriage. If you are truly seeking resolution, you will choose to pursue peace by building one another up.
#10 Don’t Bring Up Past Arguments
While it’s tempting to build your case with the past offenses – don’t. Imagine for a moment if your spouse was building a case, reminding you of all the areas you failed in the marriage. How would you feel?
Fighting fair in marriage involves grace and love in abundance. Choose to stay on topic rather than bringing up the past.
#11 Be Respectful (which really means considerate)
“…because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” -James 1:20
Fighting fair in marriage always includes being respectful. Remember – your goal is resolution. Anger hardens hearts, whereas respect (i.e.consideration) leads to resolution.
Don’t let your emotions dictate your behavior (more on that here). You will never regret maintaining a respectful demeanor.
#12 Take Breaks
It’s okay if it doesn’t get completely resolved right now. Consequently, taking a break to think things over generally accomplishes more, which is great for productive arguing. It puts space between the topic and emotions that may be running high. Time allows us to think rationally.
#13 Agree to Disagree Agreeably
It’s okay to disagree in marriage. In fact it would be weird if you didn’t disagree on things from time to time. Fighting fair in marriage doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. Couples are two different people coming together to share a life, time and money – don’t expect to always agree. But do aim to be agreeable when you disagree.
#14 Look to the Interests of Your Spouse
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians 2:4
Looking back on 18 years of marriage – the component that led to an unfair fight was usually selfishness. Sadly, I can recall too many times I was looking out for my own interests rather than my spouse’s interests. Do a heart check. Before engaging, ask yourself, “Is my motive self serving?”.
#15 Remember You’re on the Same Team
You and your spouse are on the same team. You married one another with dreams of facing this world together. Don’t forget that!
Wrapping Up Fighting Fair in Marriage
While fighting fair in marriage can be challenging, the fruit is deeper intimacy and a stronger marriage. Seek to travel on the road of humility, putting the interests of your spouse before your own. Practicing these rules will drastically improve marriage communication and conflict resolution.
We covered 15 rules of fighting fair in marriage… what rules should we add? Leave a comment below!