Four years ago, I went on tour with a worship band for 3 months. Before our tour started, we went on a retreat together to get to know each other intimately and pray for revival. One morning at breakfast, one of my teammates said "We are most likely going to argue a lot while living in such close proximity to one another". I remember being appalled at this statement. I quickly objected and told them that if we were all Christians, then it meant that we would never fight. I rebuked his words and told him it wouldn't happen to people that all just want to serve Jesus.
I had forgotten that we are very, very sinful creatures.
Two weeks in, I was reminded that we are selfish beings, as we drove in epic silence on our car ride, because we all just wanted to scream at each other.
Boy, was I so wrong.
During that season, I learned that Christians fight. I learned that Christians sometimes fight a lot.
I was 18 at the time, and that lesson has proved to be more and more true with each season I've entered: Marriage is no exception. And sometimes the blow is stifling.
Relationships are a mirror, especially marriage. Within this matrimony, I have seen the ugliest parts of my heart. My pride, my anger, my greediness. Yet with all of that, I can say that we have never gone to bed upset.
Of course, this isn't my doing. If it was up to me, I would have gone to sleep with all of my feelings exploding, carrying them into the morning. However, Ron continues to remind me that if that were to happen, the enemy would have a foothold in our home and lives. He isn't willing to let that happen, and as I desire to love Jesus more and more, I'm not either. Yet, it's one of the hardest commitments we have ever made to each other. Some nights, even when we have work the next morning, we are up until 3 or 4 AM just listening to one another and hashing things out. Commit to making amends, but be prepared. It's not going to be the easiest task.
Here are some ways to help you and your partner to get back on track after an argument:
1. Read Scripture: I'm sure that this is the last thing you want to hear. Whenever my flesh is seething, reading the Bible just doesn't help me (or so I claim in the moment). Yet, when I do find enough self control to open this precious book, everything changes. If you can find it in yourself, flip to Philippians 2. Actually... I'll make it easier for you! You'll thank me later.
Here is a mini excerpt from Philippians 2:
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!"
We are called to imitate Christ and His humility. He was the epitome of servanthood. Even though He had every single right to act like He was deserving and in the right, because He was GOD, He still remained filled with meekness.
Despite your rebellious flesh, let those words of scripture soak into your soul and let it resonate with you.
2. Apologize: OUCH. If this is hard for you, I can relate. Growing up I never learned the art of reconciliation and I find that it's hard to teach myself this concept now that I'm 22. However, because God is in the business of transforming lives, I trust that I will eventually get the gist of it if I choose to keep it a practice in my life.
Even if you said you were sorry, say it again in the midst of the aftermath. It's easy to just fixate on the problems that your partner has and how they were responsible for the battle- but fight those urges. Of course, they probably have major issues to work through, but so do you. If you begin to own your wrongs, you'll be amazed at what happens. The hardness around your own heart and his heart will begin to melt away like wax next to a flame. Be heartfelt with this apology too. Whether that's picking up their favorite pastry with a little note extending your regret or just a quick email. Do it in a way that has meaning behind it.
3. Accountability: Ron and I are very transparent people. We have met with our pastor and his wife countless times and we have also met with other couples that they have recommended to us. Feeling heard is a priceless thing. Getting an outsiders perspective is a precious thing. We may disagree many times, but one thing we agree on is that marriage is worth fighting for. Many times, upon leaving the presence of our accountability partners, we sit in the car without driving, just starring out the window saying "Woah". When we do begin to drive, our hands slowly reach for the others. There is such power in honesty with other couples.
4. Be Physical: If you don't feel emotionally pursued or close with your partner, this one is difficult. Many women say "I can't be touched if I don't feel like my husband and I are on the same page." They fail to understand that sex can get you on the same page. It's not a mere act of selfishness to mask problems- though it can be when misused- but it's a beautiful way of communicating and seeing each other in your most vulnerable state, yet choosing to love one another deeply. If you're NOT married- Don't do this. But you can still be physical. Hug them. Hold their hand. Kiss their forehead. Be gentle with them. Break down the prideful walls through holding each other.
5. Walk in forgiveness: I always heard this statement thrown around but now I'm actually seeing what this looks like in my day to day life. It's one thing to say that you forgive someone but when you don't know how to practically live it out, it's difficult. After Ron and I fight, even if it's a month later, feelings of anger will randomly swell up in my insides when I remember it. If I dwell on it, even though I have claimed to forgive him, I will become angry all over again. This results in the cold shoulder to Ron, and he has no idea why. It becomes so messy all over again. Now when those thoughts come into my head, I have to speak out loud and train my brain to truly forgive. I have to remind myself of all of the mercy that has been poured out on me. It is an ongoing process, especially when the hurts are deep. But God is faithful when you want to honor Him.
This is the sad truth that I never wanted to face...Disagreeing in marriage is inevitable. Yet, we must live in such a way that we yearn to reconcile and show the world the picture of Christ & the Church through our marriages. God will bless this desire in your heart and give you the strength to be able to work through conflict and live in forgiveness. Fights are going to happen but they do not have to tear you a part. Instead they can draw you closer to each other and God's grace.