Worth the Fight

For twenty-six years of my life, I thought I was a peacemaker.  I was almost never in a fight except when I ended up in the middle of a fight I was trying to stop.

The first sign of conflict in a relationship was usually the beginning of the end – and basically none my relationships even made it past the “honeymoon phase”.

Then, I found my love and got married four years ago. I had known my husband for four short months before “tying the knot”, so after the very first conflict, I instinctively wanted to slam the door and run away.  However, the realization hit me hard:  this time I had to find a way back. Running was not an option.

 There is a very fine line between being a peacemaker and someone who simply avoids conflict.

Four years and many inevitable conflicts later (add moving seven times to three different countries and figure in a one-year-old baby as well), I’m still learning much about myself and relationships.

Living in a country where “saving face” is everything, l am virtually surrounded by people practicing “conflict avoidance”. Therefore, I have plenty of opportunities to observe that simply trying to avoid a problem or trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.

From experience, I’ve learned that fighting is not the way to resolve these conflicts because fighting stems from a desire to prove we’re right, rooted in our own selfishness, fears, intolerance, or unrealistic expectations.

I’m not proud of the way I react when I feel insulted, angry, or hurt. Emotional turmoil of any kind is the breeding ground for regrets. And, the simple reason I’m sharing this is certainly nor because I think I’ve figured it out, but because I believe I’m not the only one struggling.

I know it’s easier to blame the other person or even the circumstances during conflict.  I know all about making excuses and defending myself. I know it’s so hard to be the first to say “I’m sorry” and actually mean it. I know the temptation to find a way out by quitting a relationship; and I also know that a Godly marriage doesn’t leave us with that option.

So, by His grace, we stay together, and we pray and learn that the capacity for forgiveness depends on love.

And so, I’m becoming more and more convinced that Jesus is not only the only way to the Father – He is also our only hope of finding our way back to each other.

In an attempt to remember the lessons I’ve learned, I’ve decided to write them down… and to share them with you. (Please feel free to add what you have learned in the comment section of this post)

– You can win a fight and lose at your relationship.

Even if you are “right”, everything you say to prove it might come out “wrong”

– If you’re wrong, nothing you can say will make it right.  In other words, defending yourself is pointless.

– The only real power we have when it comes to fighting is the freedom to choose to forgive… Every. Single Time.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12

– Fights often have a pattern, and if the underlying issue isn’t resolved, it is very likely to repeat itself.

– Sometimes husbands simply have to love their wives and wives have to submit to their husbands…not because we feel like they deserve to be respected or loved, but simply because it is what God expects of us.

At some point, we have to decide to stop fighting with each other and to start fighting for each other, because, in the end, that is the only fight in marriage that is worth anything.

– Remember:  your spouse is never the enemy, although the true enemy would like us to believe that, unless you are unequally yoked – which is a battle of a different kind – remember that you are actually fighting on the same side.

– In the end, there is really only one position to effectively fight and win. That is, fighting on our knees.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – “Ephesians 6:12

Let’s stop fighting with each other and take up our places alongside each other in the real battle. Fighting the good fight.

’Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.’ – 1 Timothy 6:12

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  1. I’ve been married 19 years, after dating for two years, and now we have three kids. I found myself nodding along with all your tips. My favorite is that the power we always have is the freedom to forgive.

    I had to learn the difference between peacekeeper and peacemaker, too. In general, I mostly got along with everyone… until I joined a mission team! “Getting along” didn’t mean that there were never problems, I just tried to avoid them and keep everyone happy. Like you, I learned that doesn’t really help build healthy relationships in the long run. Becoming a missionary and working in an intense setting with another group of people was a crash course in learning healthy confrontation. 🙂 I had some really good examples, people who modeled this and others who were learning along with me.

    The pattern I try to follow in all relationships is:
    1. Be the right kind of sensitive. In other words, be sensitive to the needs of others, not overly sensitive and quick to be offended. Many things, we can just let go. Sometimes, I’m upset and realize that it’s my hormones, tiredness or frustration over something completely unrelated.
    2. Keep short accounts. For the things that you can’t just let go, address them as soon as you can. Don’t let resentment or frustration build up.
    3. Don’t gossip. I’m very relational and like to verbally process. When something is bothering me, I want to figure it out, usually by talking about it. It’s good to have someone to talk through your problems with, but that doesn’t mean you need to talk to everyone.
    4. Remember your limitations. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to make the situation better, and you may need to back off for awhile, or in rare cases, you may need to step back in the relationships. In a close relationship, like a marriage, there may be a time when you need wise counsel from others (a trusted friend or a counselor.) My problem is that I never want to give up, and there are times when I overly analyze and focus on things that I can’t do anything about. There comes a point when I need to leave it in God’s hands.

    1. Hi Anna.. Great comment and I’m sure after 19 years of marriage you could share even more.. I love the ‘don’t gossip’ comment .. I’ve also learned that if you’re angry at someone it’s always wise to sort it out with them first.. especially sharing it with people who will take your side – like your friends or parents – might result in them feeling anger and resentment towards the person even after you forgave him/her and put it behind you.. Glad my post got you thinking 😉

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