Some things just aren’t worth a fight. If my child wants to wear shorts in the middle of the winter, it’s often not worth the effort to make him change. While it might make me look like a bad parent, it isn’t actually putting his life in danger. If he wants to make a bad decision, he can experience the consequences of that decision. Sometimes cold legs for a day are a better teacher than an irritated father.
One of the great gifts of maturity (or is it just the weariness of old age?) is that we learn not everything is worth a fight. Arguments take time. They demand energy. They drain us physically and emotionally. Relationships can be strained when tension is experienced between two people. Knowing this should cause us to fight less.
- overlook some comments
- ignore some actions
- not state our opinions about some things
- refuse to revisit some topics
One reason marriage is easier after a few decades is that both spouses should have a more wise perspective causing them to argue less.
While maturing tells us that some things aren’t worth a fight, it also teaches that some things are worth a fight. We are right to minimize many issues as not important, but too often spouses push aside conversations which need to happen. Apathy, fear, and/or weariness enable us to avoid meaningful discussions. Rather than aiding our relationship, the avoidance hinders intimacy, restricts partnership, and erodes friendship.
Some things are worth a fight. Despite the stress, even with the nervousness, some issues are so important to us or so vital to our relationship that they are worth having difficult conversations. To avoid them is to risk both our relationship and ourselves.
3 Things Worth Fighting for in Marriage
There are many things a couple should fight for against outside forces in order to protect their marriage–sexual purity, time together, staying out of debt, etc. There are also some things which a couple should be willing to fight against each other. (Note: One key to any fight between spouses is to see the fight as being about an issue and not about a person. Lock arms and attack the issue rather than attacking each other.
Here’s when an issue is worth fighting over:
1. It threatens the lasting health of the relationship.
Consider–if you avoid this topic, will your relationship be better in the long run. Often, couples avoid issues simply because it might cause short-term conflict, not because it will make the relationship bad in the long-run. If an issue threatens your long-term health, talk about it.
2. Avoiding the topic makes you feel like you are losing a part of yourself.
It’s one thing to willfully humble yourself and push your opinion to the side. It’s another thing when you don’t speak because your voice isn’t heard and you are not respected. In these cases, staying quiet might cause you to lose your sense of self. Marriage isn’t meant to kill your soul. If that’s a danger, confront the issue.
3. The unresolved issue is creating bitterness toward your spouse.
Many couples avoid one topic, but the frustration expresses itself in another. They fail to recognize the toll avoidance is taking on the relationship. If you can’t let an issue go, you must talk about it.
The Greater Problem
In most situations where couples fail to have conversations which they need to have, the individual issue is not the important issue. It’s a symptom. The greater problem is often an inability to have a healthy disagreement. In strong marriages, couples learn the skills necessary to talk about everything. They don’t talk about everything and don’t feel a need to do so. However, if needed, they could discuss every topic.
While they may not come to the same opinion on each issue, they do have an ability to listen, talk, be influenced by the other, and find a meaningful compromise on whatever the topic may be. In unhealthy marriages, they fail in several of these areas. They don’t listen. They can’t figure out how to truly share their opinions in a non-judgmental way. Spouses are not influenced by the opinion of one another. And every discussion feels like a circle because the couple is not making progress. They end where they begin. Healthy couples make progress, unhealthy couples do not.
Fight Less, Fight More
Most couples need to fight less and they need to fight more. Many issues won’t matter five minutes from now much less five days from now. If something doesn’t truly matter, it’s not worth the physical and emotional expense of a fight. Let it go. Stop nagging. Stop criticizing. Stop with the negative commentary. Just let it be.
At the same time, they need to have the courage to confront the issues which do matter. Don’t settle for a second-rate marriage. Don’t continually push aside your feelings and ideas. Be willing to risk discomfort in the moment in order have a better relationship in the long-term. And if you can’t find the courage or if you and your spouse struggle to have productive conversations, get help. Find a counselor and learn the skills necessary to fight properly.
Most couples don’t need to fight less, they simply need to fight about the things that truly matter. While some issues aren’t worth it, some are. Discern the right fights and then fight right.
Posted on Mon, June 25, 2018
by Kevin Woods