Willpower to Resolve Arguments – MM #58

Resolve arguments - graphicstock-arguing_HOg_30rLnl copyThis week we’d like to approach this Marriage Message a bit differently. We’re going to share with you parts of a letter that might be helpful to those of you who find you and your spouse in a similar situation. It involves having the willpower to resolve arguments.

The Will to Resolve Arguments

The following letter of reply was sent to a wife (and mother of two small children) who wrote to us. She and her husband are both Christians but they are “constantly arguing” over various (non-abusive) issues. Here’s what I wrote:

I perceive as I prayerfully read your letter, that if you are going to resolve this situation, you and your husband need to call a truce. You need to figure out how to quit treating each other like you’re enemies. You need to act more like you’re marriage PARTNERS. That’s not what is happening right now. This will take intentionality on both of your parts to do this.

It’s real easy in marriage, when we live together day in and day out, to get to a place where we start nit-picking at each other. We position ourselves at opposite sides of every little issue, pointing fingers at the other. It is perceived that OUR SPOUSE is the problem. (My husband and I have been there and have done that as well. So please know that what you are going through is not uncommon.)

The Bible says in James 4:1, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? Somehow, you both need to take the time to pray together and look within your OWN hearts. Ask God to show you how you can work together to work through issues, not against each other. This only complicates matters and breaks down the ability to resolve your differences.

Pray About Your Anxious Thoughts

You might want to pray as the psalmist: Search me O God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Who can discern my errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” (Psalm 19:12-13) Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Experts in relationships are saying that those who have the strongest marriages are ones where there is “mutual support and willingness to sacrifice.” I want to add to that… grace —to give each other more grace. All of this sounds like it comes from the Bible, rather than secular “experts”, doesn’t it? And it does (even though the “experts” wouldn’t acknowledge it). There needs to be more supporting and working together, rather than against each other. That is because what you are doing is sure not getting you anywhere good.

And you both need to seek God’s wisdom on this. We’re told in James 3:17, But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Is that the posture you and your husband are taking in these matters? Please look at each point and ask yourself if that’s your approach.

The Blessing Received as You Live in Harmony

The Bible also tells husbands and wives in 1 Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another. Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

And that is what I… and especially GOD wants for you and your husband, and your children as well —a blessing. I’m sure your children are picking up on the tension that is going on between you. You are modeling marriage for them. Are you modeling the picture you would like them to see and live out in their own marriages someday (if they ever marry)?

“A good marriage doesn’t just happen! It takes a solid set of decisions, a huge amount of skill, and enormous willpower. I contend that people in extremely healthy marriages built those marriages just as you build a mammoth bridge or a skyscraper. They made their marriage triumphant because they simply wouldn’t settle for less. It doesn’t matter at all to them how much backbreaking work it requires. If it were necessary, they would do a thousand times more. Their willpower gives them this kind of toughness.” (Dr Neil Clark Warren)

It Takes Willpower and Toughness

I hope you and your husband will exert the willpower and toughness it takes to turn this current rough spot around in your marriage. I encourage you to talk to your husband about this. But don’t do it at a time when you’re arguing. That would be a “H.A.L.T. Time.” That’s a time when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. There’s more vulnerability to be less tolerant during those times.

As author Scott Stanley says about approaching during a vulnerable time,

“A number of studies demonstrate that we tend to give people more benefit of the doubt [and grace] when we’re in a good mood. And we give less benefit of the doubt when in a bad mood [or one of the above factors is in play]. If you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to perceive whatever your partner says or does more negatively. This is true no matter how positive he or she is trying to be.”

The Point:

Ask God to help you to discern when would be the best time to talk with your husband. You may still get a negative reaction from him. But there’s less of a chance of it if you pick a better time to make your approach.

Please know that we have a lot of tools on our web site in the “Communication Tools” section that can help you and your husband if you need to obtain some skill-building tools to help you resolve issues in a more peaceable manner, and articles on a variety of other topics as well if you need them.

I hope this helps. No, I wasn’t able to give you a quick-fix solution. But I hope this inspires you to look at your “problems” more as character-building —marriage-building situations. Once you have applied yourselves to work together, your relationship will be all the stronger as a husband and wife and as a family. I pray so.

And we pray so for each of you that read this Marriage Message. We pray that along with God, you will victoriously persevere through every relationship barrier that comes your way within your marriage. With God, you can do this.

Cindy and Steve Wright

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