Monday, October 10, 2011

The Photo-shopped Family - The art of fighting well

No one has a perfect relationship and everyone fights. I once had someone tell me that the secret to a good marriage is to never stop talking to one another - even if that means you are yelling at each other from across the room.

That might be the best marriage advice I have ever been given. As someone who people come to when their marriages are in trouble I have found that once a couple's relationship becomes silent, it is extremely hard to get it back on track. The silence that might seem like a relief to the screaming that came before, really just heralds the fact that both parties are withdrawing deeper into themselves and away from the relationship.

So how do we fight well, when fighting is an inevitable part of marriage (or any close relationship for that matter)? One thing that is essential is to know that there is a rock solid commitment. If you are not sure that your partner will stick around when you share your feelings about an issue, how can you begin to resolve it? If this is a problem in your relationship, then this is what you need to work on first. Before you even begin to discuss the issues in the relationship, both parties (whether it is your spouse or your child) need to know and believe that you are both in it for the long haul.

Once there is trust and committment, then you can begin to resolve issues within the relationship. Caz gave 11 rules for fighting well in his sermon yesterday ( ) that are worth going back and listening to again or for the first time. The main goal of all of these 'rules' however, is to move towards resolution, not winning. If your goal in fighting with your spouse or child is simply to 'win', then you will never fight well and you will most likely repeat the fight ad naseum because you are not trying to resolve it. You are just trying to score points. If the main goal is to resolve the conflict so that you can move forward, you need great discipline and some help from God. You need to be kind (Not sarcastic, not bringing up previous wrongs). You need to be loving. (Knowing that you and the person you are arguing with love each other and want the best for eachother.). You need to be respectful. (Listen to their point of view and pay attention to what they are saying. Don't just wait for a pause in the conversation so you can jump in with your side.)

Fighting well is hard. But so is loving well. We all need God's help to do it in a way that builds up, rather than tearing down. Read 1 Corinthians 13, not as a passage that is read at weddings, but as an instruction manual for our lives in relationship with one another. These are not easy words, but they are life-giving ones.


If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

- 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8