Are you and your spouse arguing to a point where it is becoming, or is, unhealthy? If so, you should consider calling a marital truce.
“The saying goes that opposites attract—and then attack. Nowhere is this seen more than in marriage!”
“Why are smart people so dumb? Why do otherwise intelligent, well-adjusted, poised, and competent men and women lose all sense of control when they become husbands and wives and begin to disagree about such key topics as how to drive the car or turn off the lights at night? It’s a great mystery. In my house, there’s a very smart man and a very active woman who get themselves sideways with each other over the dumbest things. Sound familiar?” (Donna Otto)
Calling a Marital Truce
Yep! It does. How about you, can you relate? As I often tell people —Steve and I don’t argue as much any more because in our 45+ years of marriage we’ve argued about almost everything under the sun at some point. There really isn’t much left to argue over. But even so, it’s surprising how we can still find things to knit-pick about at each other. We do this sometimes, even though we know better.
As Donna Otto also says, it’s amazing how:
“These little disagreements can be like yeast. They expand in size, billowing up and out until they push us farther and farther apart.”
We’re learning though —we’re learning to keep shorter accounts with each other. We’re learning to not build up grievances. And we’re learning to deal with them —to approach each other with more respect. It’s important to “nip things in the bud” (as the great “theologian” Barney Fife used to say. We need to talk things over while they’re still little issues and before they blow up into bigger than life situations.
And we’ve also been learning the importance of “CALLING A MARITAL TRUCE” when our irritation with each other starts to go into directions that could cause harm to our partnership with each other and with Jesus Christ.
As Donna says:
“God makes us gifted and strong for a purpose. But obviously the purpose isn’t to tear each other down. We become one flesh for a reason, and that reason is unity, not division.”
The following are a few more important thoughts that Donna Otto wrote about called “The Treasure of the Truce” contained within the book, The Best Thing I Ever Did for My Marriage: 50 Real Life Stories compiled by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby (published by Multnomah):
The Treasure of a Marital Truce
“After some years of marriage —and problems —David and I came to the conclusion that heated arguments that escalate into toe-chillers are stupid. We can do better than that, regardless of who is right or wrong. But how do you stop the rolling battles before they become deep canyons of separation? We discovered the treasure of the truce.
“We declare a truce! A truce is a halt to hostility. An immediate and complete cessation of whatever it is we’re arguing about. We agree that in our marriage either party has the right to call a truce whenever he or she senses that a disagreement is starting to escalate. The other person must honor the truce.
Our truces have rules:
• “Anyone can call a truce at anytime.
• “Each of us must immediately honor the truce. This means to stop talking and not try for some final cheap shot.
• “The truce lasts for 3 hours. During this time we cannot talk about the subject of dispute, or any other subject of dispute. There will be 3 hours of peace.
(Warning: just be careful not to use this time to feed your ill feelings. Pray—yes I said pray, that God will help you to later approach your discussion about the subject in a peaceable, God-honoring way. Remember, anger is usually a mask we wear disguising the hurt that’s underneath. Usually what the anger is what’s seen but underneath it there’s hurt that needs to be addressed.)
• “After a truce is over, we will talk about the disputed subject again.
The issue does not go away. Only now, we are calm and usually embarrassed that things got a little out of control. The issue is usually quickly resolved and he apologizes. (Just kidding! Sometimes, I even apologize.)
“Throughout history, truces have saved many a volatile situation. Diplomats use truces to stop hostilities, and so can you. It doesn’t solve things, but it can save things. You still have to do the hard work of dealing with differences and disagreements. But you can do so without the salsa of emotion heating up your discussions. Are things getting heated at your house? Agree to declare a truce! It’s a smart answer to a dumb situation.”
Making Peaceful Resolutions
We challenge you to try using this tool the next time you get into an argument. See for yourself if it doesn’t lend itself to a more “peaceful” resolution to the situation.
Repeatedly throughout scriptures we are admonished to pursue peace and to be peacemakers. That doesn’t mean “wimping out” of a disagreement. It just means that we will do everything possible not to let an argument turn into a time of destructive behavior.
We love Paul’s words in Romans 14:19:
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.“
We pray God’s greatest blessings on your marriage. Don’t neglect treating each other with the love and respect God would have you give. Treat each other as more important than yourself —using Christ as your example of sacrificial love.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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