I have been learning about marriage for almost 19 years now–12 with my first wife, Sarah, and almost 7 now with Lisa. I’m still learning about how to make relationships work well and how to do marriage God’s way. I admit that I don’t always get it right. But I keep plugging away, asking God to teach me about myself and about what Lisa needs from her husband. Before I share my latest “a-ha” moment, let me give you a little back story.
Lisa and I don’t always agree. Don’t laugh. Your marriage probably has some of those same moments. So it was no surprise last week when we were confronted with this reality by, of all things, a handwriting analyst. Yeah, like the ones who work on CSI and those other cool shows. We were at a retreat with some hospital leaders and they had brought in this guy for a little education/entertainment. After analyzing a sample from Lisa and me both, this was his summation. I can have anger problems (no comment from my close friends, please) and Lisa can be very argumentative (I have to admit that I snickered when he said this…and then promptly got punched in the arm by Lisa). What this usually means for both of us is that we argue to win. I admit that’s the way we both operate.
In fact, it is the way that most of us operate. We want the last word, the final jab. We want to walk away knowing that we have made our point and that the other partner has heard. It’s not just true in marriages either. We can do this with our children, our co-workers or our siblings. We simply must win.
This morning, I was reminded of two key points in my whole strategy on how to win an argument:
1. In an argument, nobody ever wins. Feelings are hurt. Trust is broken. Barriers erected. Relationships marred by unloving words or harsh statements.
2. Winning–truly winning–a conversation, has a completely different definition than what most of us go by. If I want to win in a conversation with my partner. I have to remember some key points.
- It is VERY important to shut my mouth, open my ears and listen to what my wife is really saying, not what I think she will say.
- My wife is on my side. She is my teammate, not my enemy. I should treat her as such.
- I have to be very careful not to apply my feelings from a bad day to a conversation I’m having with my wife. She doesn’t deserve fall out from my crappy day.
- Raising my voice doesn’t make me any more believable than a gentle whisper. I don’t have to shout to be heard.
- Sometimes the best way to start a conversation is by walking away and committing to come back later when I’ve prayed about my attitude.
- Saying “I’m sorry” when I’m wrong is very sexy to my wife. It is even sexier if I do it the minute I realize I should instead of waiting till we have argued for 30 minutes.
- Winning isn’t about who is right or who has the best comeback. Winning is about handling the difficult conversations that will come into every relationship with grace, love and understanding so that resolutions are reached and God is honored. All of this should be done with an attitude of preserving the relationship
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.
2 Corinthians 7:10