I just heard this silly rumor that some couples don’t fight. It’s true! Word on the street is that there are couples out there for whom a good old-fashioned argument simply isn’t on the menu.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Dan and I are not one of those couples.
Don’t get me wrong — on a day-to-day basis we’re patient with one another, know how to pick our battles, and we conquer animosity with love and mercy. It’s really pretty awesome, actually.
But we’re also both extremely passionate people so on those very, very rare occasions when the wind blows in the wrong direction and we’re both caught off-guard on a bad day? Well, let’s just say that we’re not afraid of a little honest dialogue.
This used to kill me. How could two people so in love turn on one another so quickly? Where did these arguments come from? And what did that say about us individually and as a couple?
Much has been written by women far wiser than I about how to fight fair. I think such exhortations are fantastic and should be implemented as much and as often as possible. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that until and unless God himself chooses to transform me and Dan (and the way we argue), no amount of advice is going to make a difference.
If we hit that red zone, all encouragements to take a step back, to breathe, and to view this process as a quest for truth fly out the window.
But you know, over time I’ve made peace with that. Sometimes you just have to accept the ugliness and patiently wait for God to redeem it.
Which, as you know, he always does.
It was in learning to accept this reality that I was able to see (with a little help from my adorable husband) that it wasn’t the actual arguments that were the worst part of our altercations, it was the aftermath.
The real damage was done after the fight. It was during that vicious cycle of hating myself for all the unkind things I’d said, wallowing in that guilt until it became unbearable, and then revisiting all the things Dan had said to me (just to ease my guilt) that our union took the most devastating blows.
Do you know what happens when you get stuck in that cycle? Grudges, hurt, and resentment become etched more and more deeply into your soul making healing and true reconciliation that much harder to bring about.
Do you know what else happens? Evil wins.
In the eyes of evil, I don’t think the fight itself is viewed as the primary victory. Truthfully, I can’t help but to suspect it’s seen as small potatoes. The real win occurs when the couple can’t move on from the argument, when they refuse to accept the mercy that God desperately wants to show them (and to pass it on to one another), and they allow the hurt, pain, and guilt to fester and to slowly eat away at their marriage.
Fights happen. They happen between almost all couples. That’s just the reality. I’m not saying arguments are good or shouldn’t be resisted, I’m just saying that they’re hard for most of us to avoid entirely.
When the storm dies down, though, and the seas settle, I’m learning to let them be. To let every thought that crosses my mind, and every action I take, be oriented toward a return to sweet, sweet peace.
I’m learning to let love win.