I have a very good friend who to this day, denies that he has ever had a verbal argument with his wife.
And he is serious.
I want to share with him, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."
All couples are going to have tiffs, spats, disagreements, and verbal fights in their life.
It goes with being married.
But listen to me: that does not mean that your marriage is unhealthy.
Health in your marriage is not measured by the lack of problems, but by the way you handle them.
Ephesians 4 gives us a few guidelines on how to have a great fight (I read these years ago):
1. Be committed to honesty and mutual respect.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:25, "therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor (spouse), for we are members of one another."
In other words, make a decision in advance that you will treat your spouse with honesty and mutual respect. Make a commitment to tell one another the truth - in love. Don't wait until you are in the heat of an argument to decide that you will respect your mate. Say to yourself this day, "I will treat my spouse with respect and honesty."
2. Make sure your weapons are not deadly.
Paul writes in verse 26, "Be angry, and yet do not sin."
You will get angry in your relationship with your spouse. But do not let your anger lead you into sin.
Bursts of exasperated temper. Rage. Lack of control. A desire to hurt your spouse or the use of profanity.
How do I know if my anger is out of control?
I attack my spouse (verbally) personally instead of the issue.
I reject instead of reprove. I condemn.
I use gross exaggerations like "always" and "never" to prove a point.
3. Agree together that the time is right.
Is it the right time to resolve an issue?
Paul writes in verses 26 and 27, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."
Use your time wisely. Make sure you both are in agreement that it is the right time to talk. Don't jump in to something the moment either of you drags home from work or when there is a stack of dishes and three children that need to be put to bed.
Choose your timing carefully.
Let your spouse tell you, "this isn't the best time," or "This is not the right place; let's deal with it a little bit later in a more appropriate setting."
But having said that - don't keep putting it off. Don't let the day end without having dealt with the issue.
4. Have a positive solution in hand after taking a swing (verbally).
Paul inserts a thought on stealing in verse 28, but we can apply it to marriage as well.
He writes, "let him who steals steal no longer." And then he gives a positive solution, "But rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that the may have something to share with him who has need."
Come to the table with a positive solution. Don't just seek to get your point across, but prayerfully come with a resolution to the problem.
5. Watch your words and guard your tone.
Paul writes in verse 29,30, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as I good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
Isn't it true that when we have a point that we want to make - we speak louder? As if that is going to get the point across without any debate.
And the louder our tone, the uglier our words usually get, and the less your spouse can really listen.
The louder you get - the more they will tune you out. Speak softly with respect.
6. Don't fight in public.
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice," Paul writes in verse 31.
Share your anger and hurt with a counselor if you will, but never in public for all to see.
7. When it is over - help clean up the mess.
Paul writes in verse 32, "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Be kind. Compassionate. Forgiving. Admit when you are wrong. And let the Holy Spirit bring not only resolution but reconciliation to your marriage.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.