When Marriages Fail – Fighting, It Takes 2 to Tango

Couples fight, but without training, couples don’t know how to fight.

Disagreements happen. Ever consider the difference between a disagreement and a fight? A disagreement, combined with a lack of emotional control and a touch of entitlement, becomes a fight. If you stop to consider the components required for a fight, should it ever happen? Until we are in Heaven and have become sin-free, let’s assume it will happen from time to time and focus on doing fighting better.

At what point do you lose emotional control? What causes the situation to escalate? Maturity is defined as one’s ability to control their emotions in order to achieve better outcomes. Notice how we are not talking about your spouse? Mitigating fights from your marital relationship starts with you as an individual. After all, it takes two to tango.

One of the best tools to conquer fighting in your marriage is to have the realization that the spouse who is more mature will be the first to apologize. Apologizing first is about being the ‘better person,’ but not better as to mock or elevate over the other spouse. It is better to realize that maintaining the course of a fight is destructive and self-serving. Our sin nature manifests itself with a sense of entitlement. The most destructive words spoken in a marriage are, “I deserve …” Have you spoken or thought those two words lately?

Every Christ-follower needs to master the skill of apologizing. The formula is a simple three-step process. First, state your intention to your spouse – “I want to apologize to you.” Second, state the offense in a simple short sentence, without any qualifying conjunctions, ie. Or, Ands, Buts. Third, ask your spouse if they will accept your apology. It passes the burden on them as to whether or not to hold onto the perceived offense. Sincere apologizing is a powerful skill best employed in all areas of your life. It disarms a stressful situation and places you in the position of enjoying better outcomes, including your marriage.

Lance Bell is the author of the award-winning book, The Marriage You Do Not Deserve, and the President of Christian Leadership Ministries, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Its purpose is to provide workshops and materials that encourage and educate Christians to enjoy healthier marriages, become wiser at parenting, and more effective at leadership.