Summary: All relationships are subject to disagreements so we need to know how to make them better instead of making them bitter by the way we handle them.
Rules for Fighting Fair
Part 6 of 6 in the series, "When Relationships Disappoint You, How to Find God’s Peace in the Pain."
We’re finishing up the current series on relationships today and I know that if you apply the Scriptures we’ve talked about your relationships will enjoy a boost.
Today we’re going to learn some “Rules for Fighting Fair.”
That may sound like a strange topic in church but the truth is, all relationships come with disagreements. You need to accept that as a given and you shouldn’t be discouraged when someone you’re in a relationship with sees something differently than you do. No two people agree on everything all the time – ever! If they do one of them is a robot – a non-human.
In spite of what you might think it’s actually healthy for all of us to have someone to spar with. Discussing problems and disagreements openly, honestly and calmly allows issues to be brought to the surface that need attention.
The problem is not that we sometimes disagree with those we love. Every relationship faces this dilemma.
The problem is that oftentimes participants in a marriage, or friendship, or co-workers, or parents and children, or even folks who worship together…the problem is… we don’t always fight fair. And that’s what we’ve got to learn to do. We’ve got to learn to make our relationships better instead of making them bitter. That happens of course when we follow Divine direction.
You may want to keep these rules for fighting fair for future study and use. Perhaps you can even get them out next time you disagree with someone and remind yourself of what God’s Word says to do.
1. Agree that an issue is a problem whenever your spouse/friend/co-worker/etc., thinks it is.
We may think that our viewpoint is the correct viewpoint or the only one that really matters. That of course is a very prideful proposition. And the Bible says this about pride.
"Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise." Proverbs 13:10 (NLT)
Very clearly the Scriptures teach us that if we want to avoid conflict we need to be open to the opinions of others. The Bible doesn’t pull any punches. I have a pride problem. I want people to think the way I think. And when they don’t agree with my viewpoint I often become perturbed.
But disagreements don’t have to become battles.
So how do we keep our disagreements from getting out of hand? We need to admit that no one individual, including our self, has all the answers. We need the perspective of others. We need to take advice. We need to open up and let others tell us stuff. The world won’t come to an end when others disagree with us.
During the weeks before a nervous bride’s wedding, she was terribly anxious about making some mistakes at the ceremony. The minister reassured her several times, pointing out that the service was not difficult and she will do just fine.
"All you have to remember," he said, "is that when you enter the church you walk up the AISLE. The groom and best man will be waiting before the ALTAR. Then I shall request the congregation to sing a HYMN... then we shall get on with the ceremony. All you have to remember is the order in which those things happen and you can’t go wrong."
The happy day finally arrived, and the bridegroom waited nervously for his bride to appear.
When she arrived and stood alongside him, he heard her quietly repeating to herself, "Aisle, altar, hymn, aisle, altar, hymn."
The first rule of fighting fair is to not always try and alter others. If they do actually need altering leave that to God. Express your viewpoint calmly and listen carefully to what they have to say.
This is one of the reasons God made us to have relationships with others. So we could learn from one another. This is why we need to live in community. We need to have our pride kept in check.
So the first rule of fighting fair is respecting the opinions of others, allowing them to share their thoughts without disrespecting them.
If someone else believes something is a problem - then it’s a problem. Which logically leads to the next rule for fighting fair.
2. Give one another room for disagreement and the freedom to express a full range of honest feelings.
This is not always easy in your marriage or at work or in friendships. Its especially not always an easy thing to do in parenting.
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to let kids express their disagreements with them. But it’s okay for children to express their honest feelings to their parents – as long as they do so in a manner keeping with the respect God calls for children to give them.