“The deepest most heart breaking damage you’ll ever do (or have done) to your marriage will most likely occur during the thick of conflict.” – S. Kendrick
Dare #3: Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to fight by. Resolve to abide by those rules when the next disagreement occurs.
Reflections from Becky:
Sorry this post has taken a couple of days. Brent and I kept arguing about our new rules of engagement.
Kidding. Well, kinda.
We have encountered a little conflict. Irony? I think not.
Eight and a half years ago I entered marriage, never being taught how “fight fair”.
As a little girl, I witnessed conflict handled with screaming, throwing ceramic birds (this happened once) and walking away.
As for my sister and I, we clawed eyes out and pulled hair.
Once she ripped my Michael Jackson poster off the bedroom door. War.
I have confessed that (left to myself) I am cruel, crafty with words, very manipulative and extremely sassy.
The Lord has done major healing in these areas.
And I do not say healing lightly. I was diseased when it came to conflict. Cancerous cells of bitterness, unforgiveness and anger had gone undetected too long.
I was eaten alive.
Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the LORD, O my soul; all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! Who forgives [everyone of ] your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] your diseases. Psalm 103:1,3 AMP
Read that again. Mmm.
He has forgiven my every outburst, my every slanderous word and healed each one of my diseases. Even my diseased hurts and conflictual heart.
Can you relate? Is your heart sick? Spotted with cancerous cells of bitterness, held grudges, anger and rage?
Confess to one another your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. James 5:16 AMP
And restored. Oh, bless you Jesus.
Before I could make a new “Rules of Engagement” list, I had to toss out my old rules.
James says here to confess your offenses…that you may be healed. Ouch. This requires an enormous gulp of pride. Which can be very painful.
But the reward is far greater.
Reflections from Brent:
I realized this week that Becky and I don’t have any “rules of engagement” when it comes to conflict. After nearing 10 years of marriage we should… right?
This makes me feel a little inadequate.
I mean aren’t we men supposed to have all the answers and ability in any circumstance (i.e. John Wayne, James Bond, McGyver, etc)? They knew how to handle cars, women, bombs, bad guys, and gadgets. I’m sure they could handle conflict… right? Shouldn’t we know how to resolve fights and keep peace in our home?
Not necessarily. We need to be taught. Most of us reading this are probably ‘younger’ than we are ‘older’. We still have much to learn in all of life… even conflict.
There’s a great Proverb that states “the glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old.” (Prov. 20:29).
Basically, this is saying that as young men we don’t have a lot of wisdom, but we do have energy and strength (even to fight with our wives). As young men we NEED to rely on the wisdom of others (the splendor of the gray headed).
Let’s use our energy in a smart way. Let’s learn from others who can deposit richly into our areas of deficit.
Since Becky and I don’t have any formalized ground rules for conflict we saw fit to adopt the ones mentioned by Kendrick in The Love Dare. Let’s learn from someone who has been around the block a few more times than us. He lists the first seven as “we” boundaries. The next three as “me” boundaries.
How to Fight Fair:
1. We will never mention divorce.
2. We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.
3. We will never fight in public or in front of our children.
4. We will call a “timeout” if conflict escalates to a damaging level.
5. We will never touch each other in a harmful way.
6. We will never go to bed angry.
7. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work it out.
8. I will listen before speaking. (James 1:19)
9. I will deal with my own issues up front. (Matthew 7:3 plank/speck)
10. I will speak gently and keep my voice down. (Proverbs 15:1)
Lord, thank you for the power of your Word. Heal and grow us as we work through these areas of conflict in marriage. Let us glorify you, even in times of trial and opposition. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Love Dare #4 coming up next (it’s a good one!)….