Fighting is something I am passionate about. Probably because I was so bad at it when we first got married…
I would get mad and come across as hostile, crying and flinging words that I didn’t always even mean.
Caleb would try to apologize, calm me down and say whatever it took to get himself out of the situation.
And what did the fighting accomplish? Nothing! The issues never got resolved.
Enter Caleb’s grad school where he learned how to teach others to fight. Thankfully, he taught himself and his wife a few skills too, and our fights look much different today.
In fact, we can even vocalize the hard truth that needs to be stated without the other spouse getting hurt.
I love the fact that we can actually resolve issues now – get them dealt with and out of the way, rather than have them resurface time and time again.
Caleb and I are firm believers that fighting is indeed good for your marriage! But, something that we need to make clear from the start is that the fighting that we’re talking about that actually deepens intimacy in romantic relationships is ‘well-handled’ conflict. ‘Poorly-handled’ conflict, on the other hand, has negative implications for the relationship.
First, let’s rule out the bad stuff that is not good for your marriage. This includes hostility, anger, physical or verbal aggression, threat and personal insult, yelling, insults, criticism, belligerence and contempt. These are not acceptable and do not resolve anything in a marriage. If used, they may shut the argument down for a short time, but the issues have not been dealt with and will definitely arise again in the future.
However, we’re not here to discuss the negative so much as the positive aspect of fighting. The following facts about why fighting is good for your marriage are summarized from the research of Gottman, Satir, Siegert and Stamp.
The goods on fighting:
#1: It helps you to learn about each other.
#2: It builds cohesion and commitment.
#3: Dealing with stuff is better than ignoring stuff.
#4: It is a catalyst for personal growth, when you’re forced to confront your own humanity.
#5: It’s a catalyst for spiritual growth. You have to enact the gospel in your life so faced with sin and brokenness; we have to deal with grace, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, mercy and altruism.
In the next three episodes in our mini-series about fighting, we’ll describe different fighting styles, some ground rules in handling conflict well, and how to repair after a fight.
For now, know that if you have conflict in your marriage, you are normal!
We always seem to want to know though, “How normal are we? Do other couples fight about the same things that we do?” Well, here’s a list for you from Dr. Gottman. He says that couples fight most about communication, finances, children, sex, housework, jealousy, and in laws. Sound familiar?
To end, I want to give you a tip that you can start today, that will build good mojo into your marriage and help it survive the fights that do come up. It can be summed up with the words turn toward your spouse.
Turn toward each other for emotional connection.
Do things that deepen emotional intimacy.
Get inside each other and become students of each other.
Court each other, romance each other, nurture and nourish each other.
Work at having great sex, at playfulness, fun and adventure.
Let’s rearrange the words in the title for a moment. Instead of “Why Fighting is Good For Your Marriage”, think “Why Fighting For Your Marriage Is Good”! When you turn toward your spouse and build that positive connection, you are fighting for your marriage.
And I am passionate about fighting for my marriage!