Step Three: Fight Fair
Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
In the last two weeks, we talked about wives being gentle, husbands being considerate. Now we are going to talk about fighting fair.
Fighting is not always a bad thing. It's when two people stop fighting and go silent I really start to worry.
How you fight can also become the deeper issue hiding behind the surface issue. As it says in the scripture above, it's always better to be patient.
Stan had a temper. He was frustrated with his wife's habit of leaving her shoes near the front door. Occasionally, he would trip over them. One night, Stan walked in and stumbled over her shoes. He exploded. "Sandy, I told you a thousand times, STOP LEAVING YOUR SHOES NEXT TO THE DOOR!" His screamed at the top of his lungs. Unknowingly, he walked into the kitchen and to his surprise, her mother was sitting at the table. Stan was embarrassed.
Which issue is more severe, the shoes or his temper? You know the answer. Someone else's failure never gives us a license to act hostile. How we fight often is far worse than the issue that triggered the fight. As Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says, "A relationship riddled with frustrations, stress and outside circumstances that is filled with love and respect for each other will be successful. A couple who has everything money could buy with no love and respect for each other will fail."
The key is found in the way you fight. Don't use the silent treatment, it turns into a volcano. Don't allow your temper to control your tongue or body language. Before you engage in a fight (disagreement), take a breath or a time out. Ask yourself five questions.
One: Is this the right time?
Two: Is this the right place?
Three: Is my heart soft?
Four: Can I be kind?
Five: Is this REALLY necessary?
This can transform how you fight. Confronting someone at the right time and place is prudent. Often, we don't have the wisdom or discernment to consider the timing or placement. We are angry and selfish. I would argue that giving yourself a DELAY or a TIMEOUT before you engage will pay off in huge dividends. It gives God a chance to work on you before you throw spears at the one you love. Having no delay sets up the worst speech you may ever give.
The fifth question is profound. Do you always need to confront? Is it really that important? Can you be more tolerant? Can you be more patient? Can you accept flaws in your mate? Can you look the other way as you would ask them to do? I think everyone could cut out 50% of their conflict and find a deeper level of happiness and contentment.
Researches challenged a group of people to speak kindly 5 times a day for a month. The next month they asked the same group to speak 5 complaints a day for a month. After interviewing them, they discovered how happy and joyous the group was during the month of speaking positively.
During the month of complaining, they battled depression, sadness, discontentment, and unhappiness.
"We are what we speak."
It's ok to fight, but fight fair, fight less often and makeup quickly to not give the devil a foothold. By all means, don't stuff things or something will blow.
Pam and I are grateful for you all.
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