Tuesday, January 11, 2011

P90X for the Marriage: Fight Fair

Ok, first an explanation of the title of this series. P90X is this grueling exercise program that, if you stick to it for 90+ days, promises to give you the beach body you have always wanted. Its intense. Its painful. Its hard work. And, according to its creator, TOTALLY WORTH IT. While I am not convinced I will look like the ripped people I sweat with on that DVD series, can't help but believe I will notice some marked difference when I am through.

Working out consistently is not really all that much fun for most people. If you are a smidgen like me, you avoid the hard work of exercising and reach instead for a frosting-covered brownie when given the chance. It is hard to exercise our feeble arms and weak knees. It is even harder to do it over a long haul but that is the only way you will see results, right? (Yes ma'am.) You can't and don't expect to see tight abs after a week of an Ab Ripper DVD. You would never dare to run a half-marathon without spending some serious time on the pavement starting weeks beforehand.

You see by now the parallel I am drawing, right? The morsels I am recording here won't solve a broken or hurting marriage in a week, month, or even a year. But I am convinced that over a long haul the new "muscles" you have worked will start showing in the form of a strengthened marriage. Ryan and I will have been married for fourteen years this September. Some of the things I will bring up are new to me just in the past 18 months; others have been things I have focused on for five years; still others for a decade. So flex those muscles over the long haul - and get those expectations set appropriately!

Even the wisest, coolest sounding tips for marriage are empty caverns without the sustaining help of the Lord. If I were reading these tips and did not know the Lord or did not regularly depend on Him as my Provider and Savior I am convinced that I would fall on my face too many times to bother getting up again. (As it is I fall on my face plenty anyway!)  If you look to strengthen your marriage do it in the power of the Holy Spirit first and foremost. HE will give you what you need in the moment much more than any silly tip I offer here on this blog.

Without further ado, tip #1: Learn how to have a successful argument

If you have been married for more than 10 minutes you know that arguments come with the package. You can't put two humans in a house together and not get under each other's skin! One of the best things that Ryan and I have done for each other is give each other PLENTY of opportunity to practice resolving conflict. (Too bad that has to involve angry voices, adrenaline and boiling blood.)

Anyway you, as one of two grown-ups in the fight, should act like one. Don't make excuses in your head for everything you say in an argument. ("Well he's out of control - I will be too!" "He hit below the belt, now it's my turn!" "He brought this up, so I will bring that up!") Remember the reason you began arguing in the first place: it probably started out in some attempt to solve a problem. Do what you can to NOT escalate the original problem. Don't say things to your husband that you would scold your children for saying to each other.

Instead, begin to give your husband what you really want in an argument: You want to be heard, so make sure you get across to him that you "get" what he is trying to say (even if you don't agree, give him the chance to explain and communicate to him what you think you heard). Show compassion for his side of things.

When you know you messed up in some way, you want to be able to walk away from the argument with dignity (nothing worse than being shamed or made to feel worse than you already do), so give him dignity by not pushing-pushing-pushing until he "finally admits all" that he screwed up.

Any married person knows how to push their spouse's buttons and get them riled up; study up on the other side of that: what buttons can you push that will diffuse his anger and help him calm down? Wouldn't that be helpful to you? Do that for him.

There are lots of good books out there about conflict resolution and listening skills and such. If this is a real problem in your marriage for either of you, check out a book from the library on the subject. Add another tool to your toolbelt!


Jon and Erin said...

How to communicate (better) was one of the best things we took from the Family life conference. Oh so worth it!

Anonymous said...

Over the years, learning how to fight fair has been one of the hardest things for us, yet one of the most rewarding things. I am so thankful that there are tools out there to help us learn how to do it better!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I find the difficulties and choices made by couples in how they resolve disputes to be fascinating. Learning “how” to fight is an important skill for any couple. I'd love to read more on this topic.

I stumbled on this blog like I stumbled on yours. I really enjoy their humor and take on how couples’ can fight fair: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/thems-fightin-words/

I'd love to see more like it. Thanks for sharing!

Daniel said...

I have found a great product cure for this problem or to learn this Marriage Savior System.  My friend recommended me to visit http://tinyurl.com/urmarriagesaved