Conflict in Marriage: These are the Rules of Fight Club

In my own marriage we have had our fare share of disagreements.  We have argued, disagreed, been in conflict, fought well, fought poorly… you know, general married stuff.

Fight ClubRecently, I was talking about this to another married woman.  She talked about how challenging their marriage was because of the constant conflict.  I quickly understood it was more than the “general married stuff”.  There was always conflict.  Always.  I asked her what they fought about. She began to list pretty much everything you could imagine.  Now, there were obviously deeper issues going on.  But, it got me to thinking. An important part of marriage is to know when it is healthy to be at odds and when it is healthy to “just let it go”.

The Bible lives in some sort of tension with this.  In one place it says, “it is to one’s glory to overlook an offence” (Prov 19:11) and in another place, “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

What are principals for when to confront and speak hard truth to your spouse and when do you just “let it go” and “move on”?

If we bring up every issue that annoys, hurts or aggravates, we will have an emotionally volatile, draining and suffocating relationship. We will have a relationship where there is constant drama and it is never safe to be your imperfect self.

If we never speak hard truth then we have no relationship at all.  A good relationship is not problem-free  It is when we can be honest, say hard things, ask forgiveness and extend forgiveness.

How do we know when something should be overlooked and when it should be confronted?

Here are 5 questions we can ask ourselves:
1. Is it sin?  If it is sin, then sin needs attention.  Sin destroys marriage.  If we ignore sin then we are allowing a destroyer to live in our marriages.
2.  Is it actually my issue?  Here is something I ask myself regularly, “Was my husband being impatient or am I having a bad day and being overly sensitive?”  Often when we consider an issue we can be honest and say, “I’m over reacting and just need to go to bed”. Honesty with ourselves keeps true peace and blesses our spouse!
3.  Does the issue break trust? Sometimes the issue is not sin and it is definitely my own issues.  But, it is still important to confront because it breaks trust.  For example, when my husband teases me about being disorganised.  That is not a sin.  It affects me because it is actually my issue… I overreact every time! (I know, I have issues)  But, repeated teasing in this area breaks my trust with him and he knows that.  So, I confront him, communicate my sensitivity and he stops.
4. Is it ongoing and repetitive? It is one thing if I had a bad day and was emotionally absent from my husband.  In grace he forgives me, lets it go and loves me.  But if this behaviour is frequent and ongoing then it needs to be brought up and dealt with.

A healthy marriage overlooks a multitude of offences and speaks truth in love.   Grace and truth always go together.

What are your rules for Fight Club?  When do you know to walk in grace and when to walk in truth?