"Whether you're celebrating the first year of marriage or you're reminiscing about the decades together, there's no doubt that marital bliss has been interrupted by conflict somewhere along the way.  But has it ever dawned on you that what you fight about is far less important than how you fight about it?

"Spouses can do incredible damage to the trust built in their marriage, even as they argue about what kind of toothpaste to buy.  Name-calling, criticizing, bullying, and threatening (or even appeasing in order to avoid conflict) will leave a lasting scar on the relationship.  Couples can deal with the consequences of just about any decision as long as they build trust in the process of coming to that decision.  Even with the big issues, the process is far more important than the outcome.  For example, what's more important: buying the right house or building a healthy marriage?

"Underlying each of the issues that you and your spouse disagree about are central questions about trust in your relationship.  While you may be insisting that you should go to your parents' house for the holidays, you are also asking your spouse, 'Do you understand me?  Can I count on you to consider my needs?'  Your mate is silently asking similar questions:  'Do you respect my opinion?  Do you care about me as much as you care about getting your way?'

"Many broken marriages lie in the wake of good people so invested in winning the argument that they lose sight of their love for the other person.  Conflict isn't just a necessary evil--it becomes the Refiner's fire in which we are confronted with our own blind spots and selfishness.  It presents us with choices:  Will I be defensive or receptive?  Humble or self-righteous?

"So, the next time conflict knocks on your door, remember that how you fight is more important than what you fight about."

Dr. Juli Slattery/Focus on the Family Bulletin, November, 2010















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