Have you ever heard a couple say something like:
"My spouse/fiance and I are perfect for each other. We've never even gotten into a fight!"
The other week someone (who doesn't really know me well) looked at me and said:
"You!? I can't imagine that you and Sarah ever fight. You probably never argue, right?"
Well...the truth is WE HAVE.
There has been yelling...
...not speaking to each other...
...plenty of tears.
One time there was a shoe thrown.
One time I got pushed into a river.
There was the occasion by Seine River in Paris when Sarah walked away and I didn't know where she went for 45 minutes.
So when the guy said, "You've never been in a fight with Sarah, right?" I looked at him like this:
Yes. We've been in lots of conflicts.
And I'm not ashamed of it. I'm actually proud of it. I'm thankful for it. The presence of conflict in a relationship doesn't have to be an UNhealthy sign. Conflict in a relationship CAN actually be a really GOOD THING, when a couple learns to resolve conflict in healthy ways.
However, if you're an "evangelical American" like my wife and I are, you probably haven't grown up learning how to handle conflict and anger well.
Here are some common lies people like us can believe:
1. "If I get mad at my spouse I don’t love them or I’m lacking in love for them."
2. It’s more Christian to NOT be angry.
3. "I'd be a better Christian if I didn't get so angry all the time."
4. A truly loving couple enjoys everything about each other.
5. "If there's something I don't like about my spouse, it means that I don't love them or that I'm falling out of love."
6. Good marriages don’t have conflict. Bad marriages have conflict.
7. Being angry is always sinful.
8. The most Christian way is to just ‘let it go’.
9. "If I’m angry it’s okay to say whatever I want however I want."
10. "If I ignore the issue maybe it will go away or just fix itself."
11. A submissive wife shouldn’t say what bothers her.
12. It’s always wrong to go to bed feeling angry at your fiancé/spouse.
13. "When I get angry at my fiancé/spouse they are just getting what they deserve."
14. I can’t help being angry…he/she makes me that way.
15. My world is going to fall apart because my fiancé/spouse is angry.
16. Needing to ask others for help with resolving our conflict = our relationship is in a bad place.
17. All is fair in love and war.
18. If I am honest about my angry, offended, annoyed feelings...our relationship will fall apart.
19. I wouldn't be such an angry person if I had a better spouse or if my spouse treated me the way I deserve.
20. We shouldn't fight. Probably none of the other couples in our church fight.
Stay tuned to "So Much Hope - Marriage" for occasional posts about expressing anger and handling conflict in ways that enrich your marriage.