Arguments are a fact of life to some degree, but they do not have to be a part of marriage.
A recent survey showed that happily married couples should argue at least nine times per month. Really? That makes no sense.
If you and your spouse are arguing on a regular basis, something is wrong and you need to fix it. Another common phrase is, “If you and your spouse never argue, one of you is unnecessary.” Cute maybe—but not true.
A current term among some marriage psychologists is “conflict resolution.” In other words, who gets to win and who gets to lose—and how do we decide the rules so we play fair? Perhaps the better question would be, “How can we prevent the conflict in the first place?” I didn’t say, “avoid” the conflict—I said, “prevent” the conflict. There’s a big difference.
If conflict is a large part of our marriages, we should look at our standards and ask a question or two.
- What are we arguing about?
- Is there a common problem that we address over and over? If so, a pattern may emerge once we begin to look more closely. This may help us to see if there is an underlying cause about which we are not even aware, and the argument may simply be a symptom.
- Is it important?
- In the grand scheme of things, does this conflict matter at all once you eliminate impure motives such as greed, hurt feelings, selfishness, pride, etc? If not, it will not even be remembered in a year. Drop it.
- Does it have an eternal perspective?
- Does the argument center on the kind of drapes we should buy, or is it a critical matter regarding the spreading of the Gospel to the world or the validity of Jesus as Lord? In other words, does this matter here on this planet for but a moment, or does it count for all of eternity?
- Is it a “turf war”?
- Is this an area that you battle with your spouse to gain control? If so, have you measured it in the light of God’s Word? I don’t mean to sound lofty or pious, so let me put it this way—have you measured it in the light of God’s Word? This is critical for any relationship and can’t be pushed to the back of the shelf—it’s key to a happy marriage.
- How much is pride involved?
- If the argument is caused by, intensified by, fueled by, or prolonged by your pride, you need to put an end to it and apologize as soon as you recognize it. Self-pride is not of God, and it does not belong in marriage. Don’t expect it to ever win an argument.
Although there are times when proper arguing may be appropriate, there are many times when it isn’t. Hurtful disagreements are never acceptable—they have no place in marriage.
Examining our hearts is more important than evaluating the merits of conflict.