I have been married to my better half, Josh, for nearly 9 years. God bless him, because when we were newlyweds, he must have suddenly discovered that he had married a harpy shrew. Given that we were both raised by parents who could have won Olympic gold medals in spousal fighting, he likely assumed this was a cross he would just have to bear.
Fortunately, for both of us, God had other plans. As I grew more mature, I realized that while I enjoyed “winning” the fight, the harm and sadness I caused Josh left me very unhappy. Then one day, while I was riding in the car listening to the radio, I heard one of the greatest pieces of marital advice I’ve ever heard. It’s pretty simple really. The gentleman on the radio said in so many words:
When you fight, make sure you don’t say anything cruel or mean to your spouse.
Such simple advice, if you think about it. He didn’t say “don’t fight.” Let’s be real here. Even the happiest married folks are going to argue. This much is certain. While the ideal is that we always get along, there are going to be disagreements in any relationship. He said don’t be cruel. That means you have to have self-control. You have to actively think, “I love this person enough that even though I’m angry, I’m going to watch what I say and keep myself from tearing them to shreds.”
Proverbs 14:29 says:
Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.
As I was listening, I realized that often when Josh and I had an argument, I was quick to say ugly things about him and/or people he cared about. I would rain insults down on him in the heat of the moment. Given that Josh hates to fight, he typically disconnected and I “won” because I was the loudest and I had gotten in the last word. Later, I would realize how much damage I had caused him and how distant he seemed to be, even though we had technically “made up.”
Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.
Remember that you are a team. God gave your spouse to you, and you are to treat them with respect. It doesn’t mean that you must always agree, but in your disagreements, try to remember that the hoped outcome is greater understanding of each other.
After that car ride, I really tried to keep myself from making unnecessary, hurtful comments when we would argue. And in time, our arguing actually went from several times a week, to not very often at all. Obviously, God changed our hearts in more ways than one, but I like to think that some of it had to do with that little bit of advice. I’m a better person for it, and I like to think that I’ve downgraded from harpy shrew to someone a little slower to speak.
When shes not busy with her family Jennifer Maxwell works at The Coca-Cola Company. She and her better half, Josh, have been married for 9 years, and each year gets better, praise be to God! They have a son, Jack, and a daughter, Scarlett. Josh & Jennifer are One Heartbeat Leaders.