Since some conflict in marriage is inevitable, learning to fight fair just might be the most important skill a couple can master. The key is to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy combat. In an unstable marriage, hostility is aimed at the partner’s soft underbelly with comments such as “You never do anything right!” “Why did I marry you in the first place?” and “You’re getting more like your mother every day!”
These offensive remarks strike at the heart of self‐worth. Healthy conflict, by contrast, focuses on the issues that cause disagreement: “It upsets me when you don’t tell me you’re going to be late for dinner,” or “I was embarrassed when you made me look foolish at the party last night.” Can you hear the difference?
Even though these approaches may be equally contentious, the first assaults the dignity of the partner, while the second addresses the source of conflict. Couples who learn this important distinction are much better prepared to work through disagreements without wounds and insults.
Just between us . . .
• When we have a fight, are we more likely to attack the person and miss the problem, or to attack the problem and protect the person?
• What did Jesus say about yielding to others when we are unfairly attacked or criticized? (See Matthew 5:38–41; Luke 6:27–31.)
• How would doing a better job of fighting fair help our relationship?
• How can we support each other in doing this?
Father, we need Your help to show love and respect while we resolve differences. We don’t want disagreements to hurt the relationship You’ve graciously given us. We know Your power and wisdom can be ours each day, and we humbly ask for them. Amen.
This devotional is taken from Night Light for Couples. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.