Fought Fire with Fire! And WW Link Up!

Fire with Fire

Repost from October of 2010, from my series on the Top Ten Mistakes I Made in Marriage. This was number 4.

For years, my husband and I went ‘round and ‘round when it came to conflict.

He would do something that would rattle my chain, and then all of a sudden he’d notice I had become extremely quiet.

So he’d ask, “Is there something wrong, Beth?”

I’d say, “No, I’m fine.” {Short for – “Feelings Inside Not Expressed! ha!}

He would then go into some long “parent-like” discourse about how I needed to be open and honest with him … that I shouldn’t sweep things under the rug … that that’s how marriages are undermined … blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

First of all, just who started that whole “don’t sweep things under the rug” anyway? I suppose that’s opposed to sucking up everything in sight with the suction power of a Hoover comin’ on through!

Neither approach sounded like a great plan to me! But I digress …

I eventually decided to try it his way and I actually told him one day what was wrong.

Unfortunately, I don’t think hearing the truth from me was as freeing of an experience as my husband had imagined it would be! I have to confess—I didn’t mince words. I thought, Well, he did say he wants to know! So I let him know in no uncertain terms!

Up to that point, our conflict dynamic was more like the proverbial “game of cat and mouse.” {Definitely not as cute as the Tom and Jerry version, however!}

BUT …

Once I squared off  with my “claws” exposed, our marriage conflicts turned into fierce battles between two stubborn wills determined to—“take-no-prisoners!” We had gone from one of us fanning the flames of a fire and the other promptly dousing it with denial to …

Fighting fire with fire!

In an effort to “find my voice,” I’d swung like a pendulum from one side, being passive, to the other side, being aggressive.

Granted, there’s always some tendency to overshoot when we are trying to correct a problem. But my attempt at “over-correcting” was just the intensity needed to turn our marriage conflicts into a raging wildfire, burning out of control and destroying all who came near.

I had many years and lessons ahead that God wanted to use to teach me and my hubby about finding that elusive middle ground in conflict. But I will tell you one secret that moved us to the “middle” faster than any attempt to avoid conflict or run toward it …

We had to learn to die to our desires and let Christ’s humility and love soften our hearts and calm the bitter fire that raged—not just in our times of conflict, but in our hearts!

What position do you tend to take in conflicts with your spouse—pursuing conflict or running away from it?

 

What have you learned that has calmed the fires of conflict in your marriage?

 

I will be returning from my sabbatical next Wednesday, August 20th. Thanks so to those of you who’ve understood and supported the time I took to pull away. I’m still not all completely caught up, but I look forward to engaging with all of you again soon! And please know that I see and am encouraged by all of your lovely comments each week. 🙂

 

Signature - Beth Blessings

 

 

 

 

 

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  • ldskatelyn

    I am the one trying to pursue conflict. For sure. My husband just walks away when mad. I learned early on to let him walk away and collect himself, but it drives me insane when he’s still mad for more than like half a day, and is still ignoring me. I will not be ignored! But, I have found letting him handle it in his way means he often can see things from my perspective, and it allows me time to calm down and see it from his. And honestly, it’s good we take a break because I would say thing I don’t really mean.

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  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I’ve found that the best way to put conflict into its proper perspective in my marriage is to maintain a strong sense of self-worth, and most emphatically – not to allow myself to be defined by being married.

    This may sound harsh and distancing, but it’s not intended that way. If conflict becomes a no-holds-barred wrestling match, it’s really masking the true issue – a search for dominance by two people who are allowing their marriage, their relationship, to be something of an idol that makes them who they are.

    Marriage does change us, it does make us grow, and it does form us…but if we identify so strongly with the relationship and the institution, we throw away the gift of individuality.

    Does it work? Yes, I think it does. The issues that would have yanked my chain awhile back now get a “hmmpf”, heard only by me…and I walk on.

    I think there have been times when my wife was afraid she crossed a line, and that, in the past, I would have blown up…and she’s puzzled but grateful that I smile and go back to what I was doing.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/08/unhealed-marriage-wounds.html

  • Nan

    Early in our marriage I was the one who was unwilling to communicate. I needed time to gather my thoughts and try and figure out what I feeling, and also didn’t want to say something that I shouldn’t say. Hubby wanted to talk things out right away. We had to learn to both compromise. He needed to learn to wait and I needed to learn to be willing to talk. So he waited a bit longer than he wanted to, and I learned to talk a bit sooner than I wanted to, lol! Thanks for hosting today.

  • Calmed the fires of conflict? As I sat here, after reading your post, thinking about the question, I realized three words calmed our fires —> “I am sorry”. They were words that were hard to come out of my mouth in the early years of our marriage. So grateful God bent my knees & taught me how to say those words. May you continue to enjoy this sabbatical! Blessings!

  • Mary

    Hello sweet Beth! Thank you for the weekly link up! It is such a gift! I am so enjoying reading your words from the vault! I have learned that I am a run from conflict kind of girl because I really don’t “do messy”. There is a lot to be said about balance and what that can look like when expressing feelings in a grace-filled way. Blessings to you!

  • SimplySaidMom

    Oh Beth! I’m an aggressive, fight fire with fire, go for the jugular kind of girl. This position has not served me well in marriage or any other relationship. Humility is not a strong point for me, but through the Holy Spirit’s guiding I can allow myself the grace needed to admit my shortcomings. It’s an every day, sometimes moment by moment, pausing to think constructively before I lash out – from what I can tell that brief moment before speaking does this girl some good.

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  • You know Beth, this sounds like my story too. But over the years I have learnt that you can speak the truth in love and choosing words that will not offend.

  • Dying to self is the key to our marriage. That is what has changed me by the power of the holy spirit. It will be nice to *see* you again next Wednesday.

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