How many times have you been involved in a fight with your wife, left the situation un-resolved and felt like the easiest thing to do would be to end the marriage? Get where I am going? Here are a few of my typical thoughts I used to have immediately after a dispute with my wife:
“Why do I put up with this time and again?”
“Divorce would put a quick end to all of this stuff.”
“There has to be an easier way than this?”
Now just because these are my typical first thoughts, doesn’t mean they need to be the first course of action I take after the fight. Never forget that we have an enemy and he lurks daily in our marriage. (1 Peter 5:8)
So let me share what I use to do and what I now do. If you’re with me so far, then you might want to keep reading.
(Photo by LightStock.com: Faith focused, Cheesy-Free Stock Photos)
Before our wedding day, we didn’t receive a whole lot of training for our marriage. We did have to go through some marriage counseling, but I’m pretty sure my ears were turned off half of the time. Blame it on my age and immaturity. I mean, I had been through verbal disputes with family growing up and with other people throughout my years. How hard could solving disputes in marriage really be?
Much harder than I thought. And when disputes did come up, I was typically left standing in an empty field that smelled like a freshly loaded dumpster. I was completely oblivious as to what I needed to do, how to handle the conversations and how to seek a resolution. This didn’t make for a great start to marriage, and for those of you who read Manturity often, you know what I’m talking about.
So here are a few ways I handled disputes with my wife early in marriage and some ways I’ve seen other men handle their issues. If you can relate or have your own old ways, please share them after the article in the comments.
- Shutdown and want to leave her
- Shutdown and wait for her to speak up
- Shutdown and seek attention elsewhere
Leaving her was typically the first thing that would come to mind after a tough verbal dispute. It didn’t matter what the issue was or what was being discussed, I just felt like being on my own and away from her would be the best option. If we couldn’t work it out, I would want to at least just leave the house. Go somewhere! Anywhere! I was never sure what to do or where to go, but I don’t think it ever really mattered.
Shutting down and leaving your wife after a tough dispute is never the right answer.
WAIT FOR HER TO SPEAK UP
Again, it didn’t matter what the issue was or about, I would assume it was up to her to bring it back up and apologize. I would typically give her the silent treatment until she decided to realize how wrong or disrespectful she had been to me. It never occurred to me during this earlier years that it was my responsibility to take the lead and seek the resolution.
Shutting down and waiting for your wife to speak up first does not show leadership in your role as leader and husband.
SEEK ATTENTION ELSEWHERE
Porn, masturbation and seeking another woman all sounds pretty extreme until you are shutdown due to a tough marital dispute with your wife. Quite frankly, these three are the most damaging activities a husband can engage in after a fight. Porn happens because during the ongoing dispute, a man knows he won’t be having sex anytime soon. He defaults to fantasy and suffers greatly from it. Masturbation happens for similar reasons. Again, sex and pleasure are most likely out of the question, so he takes matters into his own hands (literally). And finally, husbands who are shutdown are suddenly open to the idea of maybe another woman is the best option. Maybe a co-worker or a neighborhood friend can be a better fit for you? This isn’t the answer and you’ll destroy everything you’ve built with the woman you vowed your life too very quickly.
Shutting down and seeking attention from another source will only bring you pain and despair.
So what in the world is the answer? How can a fight with your wife not lead you to one of the three areas mentioned above or an area you mention in the comments?
Here are the top ways I seek resolution after a dispute in my marriage these days:
STOP AND PRAY
That’s right, no matter what the situation is now or no matter how mad I get at the fight, I turn to Jesus first. Now, it’s not going to sound like a sweet lullaby or a quiet prayer, instead I typically start with these questions. Why God? Why is this happening in my marriage right now? What do you want me to do or how do you want me to react? Father, show me how I can be a good husband and leader through this situation. These are just a few things, but you get the idea. So the next time you and your wife are going at it, stop and pray. Either pray with her or pray alone, but talk to God first. And stay there as long as you need.
In the past, our marriage issues could go on for days, even months! I’m sure you can relate to that timeline and agree that there is nothing fun about that time. I now try to seek resolution quickly. For example, my wife and I were at a baby skills class before our little dude was born and something happened to where she embarrassed me in front of everyone in the class. Granted, I didn’t know anyone, but it still crushed my spirit. I gave her the look of “what did you just do”, and went on with the class. Afterwards, I had a choice to make. I could either let the issue sit for days or I could bring it up in a loving way to her. Well, I swallowed what little pride I had left and spoke in a very soft tone. I mentioned that I didn’t appreciate the way she treated me in the class and was very embarrassed. I told her that I was trying my best and didn’t feel like I deserved that kind of treatment. Because I addressed it quickly and in a loving way, she was able to understand my side of things and we agreed to work on it in the future. That was the end of it.
I understand that there are many types of issues and mistakes that can be made in marriage, but I encourage you to not give up on your spouse or your marriage, and especially your children. Prayer must be your first priority. Accountability with another man or your Pastor could be another option. But please, don’t default to one of the top three scenarios mentioned above.
Struggling in your marriage? Let’s talk about it and seek a resolution.
Have you overcome big disputes in your marriage? Share your tips and ideas with the community!