When two people come together to be “one flesh”, it’s not always happily ever after. Actually, it’s often not peaceful and without conflict, especially in the early years. Throughout your marriage, you’ll have to learn how to mesh your expectations, wants, needs, and desires. It’s a lifelong struggle, but you get better at it with practice.
Because it takes practice, you can’t come together without a fight here and there. It’s just a part of the process of growing to better understand and be able to express yourself to your spouse.
When you realize fighting isn’t a symptom of a bad marriage but a feature of a healthy one seeking improvement, it’s not quite so scary. So why is fighting sometimes considered a “four letter word”?
The fear of starting a fight can be one barrier to being honest with your spouse. If you’re scared of fighting with your spouse, you’ll hold things back. When something upsets you, you might internalize it instead of expressing it. It may feel like a selfless sacrifice, but what ends up happening is that those frustrations and little annoyances build up and build up.
Sometimes avoiding a fight can do more damage to a marriage than fighting it, because, eventually, the internalizing of those negative things does one of two things. Either it festers, you hold a grudge, and the resentment slowly pulls you and your spouse apart, or it comes out in a torrent and you have a viciously negative fight… which pulls you apart quickly. Neither of these are good.
Now, what comes to mind when you think of a fight? Is it a no-holds-barred screaming match? If so, that’s definitely not the kind of fight I’m talking about. That’s not the kind of fight that will build up your marriage.
A good fight isn’t about a battle. A more appropriate term for it would be discordant communication. It doesn’t have to be scary. Communicating about the negative in your relationship is even more important than being communicative about the good things. The good things are easy. And, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, nothing worth having comes easy. You’ll occasionally have to work through some crappy moments to get to the good ones.
What should you really be afraid of?
When you’re not fighting, there’s a good chance you may not be really communicating. That’s not to say you should be fighting 24/7, but just that you deal with issues head-on when they come up without letting them fester.
Don’t be afraid of fights; be afraid of holding back from your spouse. Be afraid of silent annoyances that slowly grow and build up walls between you and your spouse. Be afraid of losing your ability to communicate with each other, especially for the big issues. Be afraid of disconnecting from your spouse and your marriage
Nonetheless, I get it. Nobody likes getting their feelings hurt, and most people don’t take joy in hurting their spouse’s feelings, either. Fighting can suck. But when done right, fights are sometimes the best things that can happen to your marriage. The emphasis here, of course, is on done right.
While it’s true that you shouldn’t hold anything back from your spouse, there are certain things that truly, honestly are not worth fighting over. Does it really matter which way the toilet paper goes on the roll? Is it that big of a deal if the bed isn’t made the way you like or that he folded the laundry differently from the way you would?
I didn’t think so.
Whenever possible, work on extending grace to your husband when it comes to the small stuff… because, admit it, you have little annoying habits, too. Do you want him to mention every single one, every single time you do it? I doubt you’d like it all that much.
Naturally, this will take practice, too. None of these habits come reflexively in most people: they’re things that have to be developed over time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to be perfect all at once! Just focus on taking baby steps toward your goals, and if necessary, focus on one goal at a time.
Are you and your spouse in bad fighting habits and not sure where to start? Whether you’re in the habit of bad fights or avoiding fights altogether, Monday’s post is all about fighting a good, clean fight in a way that builds up your marriage, not tears it down.
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I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.
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