Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Fight

I don't know about you, but I don't like conflict.  I hide, run, over-react, shut down... Sundays always bring some kind of conflict, it seems.  I guess it  is just a hectic day, from the time the alarm goes off until we go to bed, and usually it is the day that my husband and I will find ourselves at odds.  Not every week, but if it is gonna happen, it is gonna be on Sunday.  Kind of sad, too, since we spend Sunday morning at church helping to lead a marriage class. But, hey, we never claimed to know what we are doing.  That's why we use a dvd and a study guide written by someone else.

So, tonight I am hiding.  Behind the computer.  Nothing major going on here, just the tension of trying to raise kids and work and keep our sanity and our sense of humor (which seems to disappear around 5pm most days).  And I know with a simple acknowledgement, just a few words, maybe a touch, I could make it right.  But I don't want to, at least not yet.  Not because I like the tension.  I just don't want to be mature.  I want to be selfish and tell myself all the reasons I am right and he is wrong.  

Sounds pretty silly and childish, huh?

Maybe instead, I will sit here until I can see clearly what is important.  Because even now I know it probably has little to do with whatever we argued about...  This is God-designed, this conflict... this constant problem of just being so different.  Yes, marriage was designed to have conflict.  Otherwise, why would He have made us so differently??

How do you fight fair when you just want to be heard and understood by someone who just wants to be heard and understood?  When you both talk, you both shout, and no one is listening?  The simple answer is to just stop... To stop talking and just listen... to the words, yes, but more than that to the heart behind the words.  I am so bad at this.  I have good intentions, always.  But in the midst of hurt feelings and harsh words my good intentions fly away like dust.  And my only intent becomes to protect or defend myself.  In defensive mode, I am really not hearing anything other than the voice of my own fear.

Yes, this is all stemming from a very minor argument, but the principles play out in every conflict, large or small.  Sometimes I wonder if God just gives us these "opportunities" to practice the stuff we learn while leading these marriage studies.  If so, I guess I should be grateful for the hard moments.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others, 
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Perspective is really everything, isn't it?

Marriage is not easy.  (Is that an obvious statement, or what?) But it draws us closer to the One who created us male and female... And if we really strive to serve one another as unto Christ, won't the small things be just that?  Small?  And won't the motivation to love remain even when the conflict comes?  A theory worth testing...

I should be fighting to hear and understand... not to be heard and understood.  Why do I always get it backwards?

Getting it right is always a choice that requires caring for someone else more than I care for me... And trusting in the only One who never fails when failure seems to be my middle name.  To drop the self-protective defenses and just love from the center of who I am.  It sounds so easy and so pretty. But it seems to come forth only from tears and ugliness.  This whole transformation process can be pretty painful to a stubborn, prideful girl like me.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us.  Love like that.  
Ephesians 5:1-2


  1. "I should be fighting to hear and understand... not to be heard and understood." So very true!

  2. I scrolled down here to write the same thing that Nicole wrote just above me:) Beautiful post, Kari!

  3. I took an entire course in college on marital counseling, and the biggest thing they taught us was to listen. Even in our classroom setting where no one was truly mad at each-other, when we would role play it was still hard to listen.

    I think it's truly an art, that does get easier with time and practice.

    I'd love it if you'd share this post with my encouraging link-up