We had been married for a little over two years and were on our way home from a friend's wedding. We had a great time and danced the night away with old friends before getting in the car to head home. One minute we were talking about the night and the next we were in a blow up fight. I cannot for the life of me remember what the fight was about (isn't that always the case?), but I do remember how awful we were to each other.
The minute we got home I got out of the car (slamming the door of course) and hurried upstairs. I grabbed a few of Miles' things and put them in hallway before locking our bedroom door. I got ready for bed while still fuming over whatever was so important that I felt the need to lock my husband out of our bedroom.
Apparently my husband did his "fuming" downstairs because it felt like FOREVER before I heard him come up. I was still upset, sitting in bed with my arms crossed, waiting on him to try to open the door so we could pick up fighting again when I heard him start laughing. At sure I wasn't positive, but then I could hear him literally dying laughing (and if you know my husband at all, you know he has the most distinct and loud laugh) in the hallway.
My curiosity got the better of me and I opened the bedroom door. There on the floor of the hallway was my husband with the biggest smile on his face. When I looked around I saw what he was laughing at. Even though I was angry, I still had thought to put things out I knew he would need: his iPad, face wash, toothbrush, and pajama pants. My husband found the assortment of items hilarious and all of a sudden I did too. Quickly the fight was forgotten and we were both laughing and went to bed happily ever after.
Now WHY do I tell you this long, ridiculous story? Well please learn from mistakes and let my immaturity show you what NOT to do. Yes, it ended well, but looking back on it, I cannot even believe I tried to lock my husband out of our room! Who does that?
So over the last (almost) 7 years of marriage, we have learned a thing or two and have become what I like to call "healthy fighters". Yes, we fight. Gasp! We are two very different people so disagreements happen and so a fight may occur from time to time! But it is now HOW we fight that helps us get to an agreement faster and has kept us both from locking the other one out. Ha!
So how do we do it? Rules! Ugh, rules? Yes, rules! They help SO much. They keep us from saying or doing something completely stupid that we know we'll regret later. Anyone ever been there? I can't say we don't break these rules from time to time (hi, we're human), but we try our best to follow them so we don't live in the exhausting fight any longer than we have to!
Do what is best for you, but here are some things we try and follow. I hope they can help you if you're dating, married, or just trying to get along with your roommate, sibling, or parent!
- NO yelling. This can be hard in the heat of the moment, but keeping a level voice throughout an argument can usually help resolve things faster because it won't let things get out of control.
- NO generalizing. What do I mean by this? Just because someone didn't listen this time doesn't mean they don't ALWAYS listen. Just because someone didn't show up for something doesn't mean they don't ALWAYS show up. When we generalize we take one situation and define a person's character by it and that is never fair. We are all human and will all fall short at some point. I wouldn't want anyone to define me by my low moments so I am not going to define anyone else by theirs.
- NO name calling. This is really important if you have kids in the house because you want to set a good example for them that name calling is never okay. And this goes along with generalizing. If you say "You're a ______", then you are defining that person as something in that moment. Now I'm not saying they many not be acting like a _____ in that moment (ha!), but calling them that never helps the situation so it's just an automatic no no.
- Show LOVE. No matter what happened, no matter how bad it seems, you still love this person. Unconditional love includes the good AND the bad. That means we never use the word "hate". Don't throw words like that around casually, because although there is forgiveness, we can never unsay things.
- Show RESPECT. At the end of the day, even if you are more angry than you have ever been before, you know this person. You know their character. You know who they truly are. As hard as it may seem, we must show respect. In most cases, they have earned plenty of respect in their best days and we shouldn't throw that away over a few bad days.
- Show GRACE. Let's be honest, we all mess up. We all fall short. Thankfully if we are in Jesus, we are covered in grace. If we can be forgiven for all of our junk, should we not show the same forgiveness in return to those we love?
The fights will still come and we will still say things we don't mean, but hopefully, if we hold on to a few safe rules, we won't dig ourselves too deep of a hole. The best part? If you don't lose your cool you usually get out of the fight SO much faster and who doesn't love that? Fights are draining and it's so much more fun to be on the other side of them. So pony up and be the bigger person. And as my mom always say, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all"!