First Rule of Fight Club…

Okay, not really.

But you guys, married fighting is tough stuff.

I am a big believer in the fact that fights make you stronger. If you can disagree on something and manage to work through your differences, it is a great testimony to the strength of your relationship/marriage. The fact that David and I value each other and our commitment to our vows enough to argue and then work it out means a lot to me. As a child of divorce, I used to fear that every fight meant the end of the relationship. Now, I understand that doesn’t have to be the case.

I am going to be brutally honest at this point.

I am a very, very passionate person, and I tend to get my feelings hurt pretty easily. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that’s a good way to get it trampled. This is a personal problem that I am working on, and I’m proud to say I have made progress. Even so, David does hurt my feelings from time to time. (Don’t worry, I’m going to get to the part where I hurt his- this is definitely not a bash-David session.)

When my feelings are hurt, I do one of two things- I button my lips and give David the cold shoulder until he apologizes, or I start muttering under my breath and leave the room to find something else to do (usually to wash dishes or hide with a book ). Although I do think it’s good that I usually don’t completely flip out and throw a tantrum, I don’t need to retreat and then bottle up that frustration (only to be let out at another, totally inappropriate time). Also, the cold shoulder never helps anybody, and it makes everyone feel like crap.

I have been working on a new strategy to dealing with my anger at David. If I feel like the discussion is getting to be too much, I will excuse myself for a short- and I do mean short– time. I will go and get something to drink from the kitchen, or go brush my teeth. That few seconds away gives my nerves a break, and I stop feeling so overwhelmed by the situation. Staying away too long gives me the chance to either bottle it all up OR get myself even more worked up, and neither one helps.

When I’m ready to talk about things again, I tell David, “I felt like you were….. and that bothered me because….” The thing about approaching the subject this way is, you have to explain. It’s easy to say “You pissed me off!” If you have to explain why, you’re forced to examine your feelings and see if the other person truly said something wrong, or if you just took it the wrong way. It’s simple, but it works. It also gives the other person a little more insight. I can’t expect David to fix it if he doesn’t know what’s wrong.

Okay, now on to the part I don’t necessarily want to discuss. Believe it or not, this mild-mannered, sensitive little wife can actually trample her rough-and-tough gun-enthusiast husband’s feelings, and it happens more often than I’d like to admit. For all of my compassion for others and my overwhelming love for David, sometimes I am totally thoughtless and say or do something insensitive or hurtful. I mean, I’m human, you guys.

Anyway. These are the spats that aren’t always easy to resolve. David’s not always as forthcoming with his feelings as I am. If I realize I hurt his feelings, I usually have to dig a little more to get it all out of him. The best thing I can do here is simply apologize. I try not to make excuses for myself, because you know what? It doesn’t help. The bottom line is, if I screwed up, I’m going to try and just own up to it. Pride is not a good thing to hold on to in a marriage.

Luckily, David and I do bicker, but it is pretty rare that we have a problem so serious that I have to define it as an actual fight. But we are learning, slowly but surely, that when these things happen, communication is the key. If we can communicate, then we will always be able to get through it, whatever “it” is.

My grandparents lead marriage counseling sessions at their church (my grandfather is the pastor), and my grandmother has recommended a book to me that I would like to recommend in turn to you. It is called Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans. (Make sure that if you purchase this book, you get ROCK, singular, and not plural. The plural is a book about being married to an alcoholic, which is a totally different conversation!) Anyway, I haven’t finished reading it, but it is a really interesting book. I also recommend looking into The Nest Newlywed Handbook. It was the first book David gave me after we got engaged, and I have turned to it more than once. It details a number of difficult subjects for engaged/newly married couples, and the format is very enjoyable.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this insider’s look into learning how to fight productively. It can be done, and if it is done right, it can go so far to strengthen your bond! Above all else, remember that you love each other!

Until next time,

A

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