Sunday, February 13, 2011

Changing the Rules for Fighting Between Husband and Wife

Fighting between husband and wife is a common ordeal that all couples have to contend with. Writing in Bible and Life  magazine, a father of eight children tells us what he has learned about fighting in a friendly way.

Most of the time when the fight is over, you have forgotten what you were fighting about. It is usually a trifle but at the time it seemed momentous. For example, his style of dealing with the children, he says, is to let them figure out what to do while the wife finds this  difficult, and was nervous about  having  the children looked after by others. He thought it would be a good idea to leave the children with the grandparents in the country for a month; his wife was adamantly against it. The grandparents, because of the work the couple were faced with, agreed with him, and wanted to have the children stay with them, but she continued to oppose it.

The writer had difficulty accepting his wife's feelings on the matter and, being angry, he became aware of the many critical things he wanted to say to her. When she entered the room, she asked him: "Your angry, aren't you?" He wanted to answer that he was, but instead, surprising himself,  answered:                                                      

"Dear, our parents are getting older and many things have changed. These strong positions we hold now were absent in the past. We will have to change the way we treat our parents." She replied, "What shall we do?" indicating she was open to discussing it.  He was surprised that he was able to answer his wife without anger, even though there had been a strong desire to do so.

The writer feels that he was being helped in keeping calm by remembering the lines from Rom. 8:26, "The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in speech."

Before a possible fight, he says he doesn't have time for anything more than the words: "Holy Spirit help!"  Three little words but they helped  change shouting matches and  passionate confrontations into quiet discussions: listening to what his wife was saying, and saying what he had to say in a few words. The new way left him feeling purified, he said, like taking a shower.

He concluded that when they  fought, they were not seeing each others true self but the darkness within. He was mistaking that darkness for his wife.

He recently read that in Korea 9,000 couples marry daily and 3,000 divorce. If only they would take time to say a prayer before the inevitable fight, he believes there would be far fewer divorces. Bringing  Jesus into every discussion before there is a possibility of fighting was the wisdom he has gained from married life.