Summary: Whenever you have relationships -- really any kind of relationship -- you’re going to have conflict. Most marriages are marked by periodic skirmishes -- and occasionally by an all out war. It is critical that married couples learn to fight fair and hono

How to Have a Good Fight

Whenever you have relationships -- really any kind of relationship -- you’re going to have conflict. Most marriages are marked by periodic skirmishes -- and occasionally by an all out war. Marital warfare may take place in the trenches of hostility or moodiness. Some battles are surprise assaults. Others are cold wars of stoic silence.

Sometimes, this warfare takes place years down the road -- and other times it can happen on the wedding night. I recently read about a true story that happened in Waukesha, Wisconsin -- about 25 miles from where I grew up.

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Snyder had a beautiful June wedding. The problems started when the wedding was over while they were trying to decide where they should go to celebrate. They couldn’t agree and, seeing as how they had been drinking since early afternoon, the bride got mad and “gashed her husband’s head open with her wedding ring.” The police were eventually called because someone in the bar thought the groom had been stabbed. When the bride met the police, she was a little belligerent and was arrested for disorderly conduct. They later found the groom wandering along a nearby street in search of a hospital. The police took him to see his wife at the jail. Shortly after being released, the lovebirds began arguing again and he hit her in the face. He was arrested this time for domestic battery and, since she started kicking the police officers for interrupting their honeymoon, she was arrested a second time for disorderly conduct. They spent their wedding night in separate cells and were released the next morning.

Most of us enter marriage with undeveloped conflict resolution skills. We don’t really know how to have a good fight. That reminds me of a husband who said, that after 50 years of marriage, he and his wife have had only one fight. When asked what his secret was he said, “The fight started on our honeymoon and I’m still waiting for it to end!”

Time Magazine reports that money is the #1 reason for fights in marriage. Couples also fight about goals, vacations, kids, work, house, leisure time, cars, in-laws, drinking, health issues, church, and even pets.

This morning I want to give you 4 conflict resolution skills -- 4 ground rules that should keep you from landing in jail.

Be Honest

The first skill is to be honest. This is found in Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

The word “put off” means to discard, to strip off, to cast away. God is telling us to get rid of any falsehood and to start practicing some truth telling. This verse really speaks about relationships in the church between believers. Christians are to be truth tellers, not people who lie to one another. If you are serious about being a Christ-follower, then you must be honest.

In the book, “The Day America Told the Truth,” by James Patterson, the author reports the following survey results:

91% of Americans lie routinely about matters they consider trivial

1 out of 3 lie about important matters

86% lie on a regular basis to their parents

75% lie to their friends

7 out of 10 married people lie to their spouses

It’s not easy to tell the truth -- especially when it might hurt someone. But, if we value good relationships, and take seriously what God says, it’s essential to develop this first skill in conflict resolution. You really can’t build a relationship if truth and honesty are not valued. What this means is that you will choose to do not what’s easy, but what’s right -- to be honest, to speak the truth -- even if it means going through a tunnel of chaos.

Several years ago, Beth and I decided to get a dog. This wasn’t an easy decision. Beth took a lot of time to research the various types of canines-- everything from beagles to terriers. She called people in Iowa and Minnesota. We asked other dog owners for their recommendations. She had narrowed it down to a dog that wasn’t too big, didn’t shed much, and wasn’t too hyper. I was glad she had done all the work.

One day I came home from work and looked in the paper to see what kinds of dogs were available. When I saw that there were some Golden Retrievers for sale, I announced to Beth that that’s the kind of dog we were going to get. Despite her research I wanted a retriever. I told her this was something we needed to do -- we couldn’t waste any more time just thinking about it. We got up early the next morning and drove about 20 miles south and picked up a beautiful little puppy. The girls were thrilled and I was pretty proud of myself for making such a good choice.

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