Family Bytes

Living Single (Part 2): Understanding Arguments

I drive a 13-year-old Ford F150. It was my father’s truck before he passed away.  I have always planned to drive the wheels off the truck then put them back on and drive it some more.

This was recently put to the test.

Several weeks ago, I was driving during rush hour on one of the busiest roads in the area. All of a sudden my truck stopped in the middle of traffic. This little incident caused quite a significant traffic backup. People were honking, giving me certain hand gestures and yelling unkind things. I understood the frustration, but I was still a little surprised by the reactions. Did they think I simply became tired of driving and thought, “Why don’t I stop here and take a break?”

I didn’t think that at all, but what I did think about was how similar their response was to couples living single.

In our last post, we discussed what it looks like to be married and still single. It is the common phenomenon when couples, close in proximity to one another, are not connected on a deep, meaningful level. They live lives parallel to each other, at the same speed, but their paths rarely - if ever - touch. 

What happens when life changes the plans? When it seems your goals have stalled out, causing a well-oiled marriage machine to get backed up? In those situations you might experience a similar heated and emotional response from your spouse that I did during rush hour.

The bible speaks about this in James 4. The author asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” The answer…

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. (James 4:2)

When we argue, we ACT OUT emotionally. We “kill” by assassinating a person’s character, value or worth. We fight and quarrel because we see our spouse as the reason we are not moving faster or reaching the next milestone in our lives. In conflict our goal is to WORK THINGS OUT. We search for what is right and true in that given moment. Even if it means we are wrong or have to change the dream or plan.

Arguments in marriage are inevitable. So what do we do when we find ourselves in this situation?

  1. Walk away and calm down. In the heat of battle we will say things that we don’t necessarily believe and won’t be able to take back later. James 4 puts it well - those harsh words really do cut people and kill trust.
  2. Ask yourself, what am I feeling? Many times anger is just a disguise for hurt, frustration, disappointment and/or embarrassment. Identifying our feelings and their cause can make us more productive in our communication.
  3. Discern if that emotion is directed at the right person. Often we hold our frustrations with our boss in until we come home to our spouse. If we take the time to discover where the emotion should be directed, we may be able to communicate effectively versus lash out.
  4. Ask, “Am I fighting for what’s best for my marriage or fighting to get my way?” An argument is always an attempt to get our way. We use harsh words and say unkind things to get the other person to back down, get back in line and keep moving in our direction. When we fight for our marriage, we fight the best for our family.
  5. Ask, “Is my approach to this situation helping or hurting?” Many couples make the mistake of thinking the louder we talk and the more times we make our point, the more likely our spouse will understand.  However, the opposite is true. Volume and aggressiveness only shut people down, or worse, makes them upset. In both situations they are not listening.

I think our marriages should be like my old truck. We should expect to be in it for the long haul.

When we stall out and life gets backed up, that is the time we should take a step back, think, pray for wisdom and work through these principles.

Posted by Freddie Albaugh at 6:00 AM
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