The following is an excerpt from our book True Intimacy.
For the next month we will be posting a chapter a day for your reading (and marital) pleasure. However, if you would like to purchase an electronic or printed copy for yourself or someone else we would greatly appreciate your support! To go to the web page for more information click here.
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Conflict is a necessary element in marriage. Without conflict there simply can’t be resolution. This is one of the last and most important things that this fast taught us. Although fighting has never really been a problem for Christian and me, it is extremely common in the majority of relationships. This is where Mark 3:24-25 is a very important verse to think on. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. A household that is full of arguing and constant strife cannot stand. So while conflict is important and necessary, like everything else in a marriage there must be a balance and everything must be done in love not anger. Conflict is necessary, anger and fighting is not.
Proverbs 27:5-6 tells us that when someone who you love comes to you and LOVINGLY points out the “sawdust in your eye”. When they say it in love and compassion, those wounds that they inflict can be trusted. They will heal quickly because they have been inflicted in love and for your own good. On the other hand there are “kisses” from an enemy. If you see someone you love acting in a way that is ungodly, you need to tell them, in love. If instead of pointing out their fault lovingly, you “kiss” them and tell them nothing or worse condone the action, then you might as well be an enemy to them. Over the years Christian has wounded me many times emotionally, but the majority of them have been for my own good. He has rarely spoken harshly to me, and he has never spoken to me in a condescending way. Wounds like these can be trusted.
In every conflict, either with a loved one or someone you don’t even know, you’ve GOT to fight fair. James 1:19-20 is, in a nut-shell, our guideline for fighting with others. If we are in disagreement with someone we must be quick to hear what they’re trying to say. Whether in attack or defense we must LISTEN first and be loving. Next James says to be slow to speak. Don’t just blurt out your first knee-jerk reaction to what they’re saying. THINK before you speak. Better yet, PRAY before you speak. “Your words, not mine LORD.” This is my 5 word prayer for almost any situation. As Christian mentioned earlier I haven’t always been very good at doing this, but I’m working on it and improving day by day. Speak God’s words, let Him fill you with His word (scripture) so that the first thing off your lips is holy. Pray before you speak. (I said this twice for a reason.) Be thoughtful, the words you speak can change your entire life. Believe me, I know. There’s a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth, we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak! In James 3:4 he compares the tongue to the rudder of a ship. Although very small in comparison to the ship as a whole, it steers the ship everywhere the pilot wants it to go. We must guard our speech so that it doesn’t take us somewhere we’re not supposed to go. Be slow to anger. Our anger, if left alone, can very quickly turn us into someone we don’t like or recognize. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) Be gentle in your answers, don’t re-act to your husband, just love him.
While God’s love is perfect and drives fear away, some human conflict creates fear. This should not be and is not right. There is no fear in love.
“Lord, I know that someone out there right now is living in fear of someone who they love. I pray so desperately for them right now Lord. You love them so much, and I know that You want what is best for them. But because You allowed us to have free will, some people have taken advantage of that freedom and have abused it and Your loved ones. Right now I pray that Your perfect love cast out their fear. I pray that You touch their abusers heart in a way that no one has or ever will touch them. I pray that You change their heart and fill it with Your perfect love, causing them to know You better and know that true love doesn’t bring fear with it, only more love. Lord, protect my friend tonight, allow them to sleep sweet, and rest in Your peace knowing that You are holding them in the palm of Your hand, and that You are feeling every pain that they suffer. I ask all these things in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!”
You have probably had some disagreements with your wife during this fast. You might have had arguments with her before the fast. That’s OK, arguing is a part of every marriage. It is a necessary evil that can help the marriage, if done correctly. Yes, there are rules to arguing.
Keep it between yourselves! No one else should be involved. It is about you and her; meaning, keep the argument about each other. Don’t bring your mother-in-law into it.
Stay on point! Don’t move on to another subject until the first is resolved. If the argument is about how she never heeds your advice, don’t mention anything about how you don’t like how she folds your underwear. In other words, no more “And another thing…”.
In my opinion, the most important thing is: Have arguments! As Tamar stated, we have never really argued. One of us would usually say something like “OK, whatever” and go away angry. That is bad! Don’t hold your argument in. If you do, they will build up until they just explode out, usually at a very inopportune time. Or they may never come out at all. Then you get withdrawn and start to grow apart. You just stop talking to each other. Tamar and I were almost to that point.
There are more rules, but every couple and every argument is different. If you can learn how to “fight” well, you will learn how to “love” even better.