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Loving Him 365 - Fight Fair

Choosing to love means choosing to fight fair. Without understanding the concept of fighting fair, it can be easy to resort to low blows and poor decisions. Fighting fair involves establishing two sets of rules. The first set includes rules that both parties agree to abide by when facing difficult times. The second set are personal rules, developed by each individual for themselves, to help prevent giving in to less than desirable behaviors. This blog will discuss both sets of rules.

Set 1: The Rules We Agree to Follow

  1. Start by discussing with your spouse things that might be said or done during an argument that may be a trigger for either of you. It may be helpful to also talk about why these things could be triggers, especially if the trigger applies to one and not the other. Often, understanding where our spouse is coming from and why they feel the way do will help us to respond in a way that may be less triggering for them. For example, I used to struggle with the tone my spouse used with me in certain situations, especially when I felt he was 'correcting me' in an attempt to teach me his way or, rather, a different way of doing things. To me, he nearly always came across cold and harsh. I often felt as though he was treating me like a child. I, in turn, would get upset and shut down, which, by the way, is NOT a good idea when fighting fair. Many times, however, his tone was not the issue. My perception of his tone, because of my history, was the issue. People from my past often spoke down to me and said things to intentionally make me feel stupid or less than. They lacked decorum and intelligence, unlike my spouse. When he would correct me I felt attacked even though his intention was never to hurt me. The truth is, he's likely the most intelligent man I've ever met, and he's only ever wanted to help me become the best version of myself. I wish I could say I came to this revelation on my own but I didn't. It was through open and honest communication with my spouse that we came to understand the trigger and what I needed to do to retrain my brain (topic for another day).

  2. Discuss what rules would be beneficial to the relationship and write them down. Writing them down is an important part of this process as it will help you both retain the information and aid in preventing a misunderstanding of the rules that are agreed to. Here are some examples:

*We will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

(James 1:19-20, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12, Proverbs 15:18, Proverbs 14:29)

*We will listen to understand rather than listen to reply.

(Proverbs 18:13, James 1:19-20)

*We will not call each other names.

(Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 12:18)

*We will not use degrading language.

(Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8, Psalm 141:3, Matthew 12:33-37)

*We will stick to the topic at hand not bring up past issues.

(Matthew 25:41, Philippians 3:13-14, Isaiah 43:18, Matthew 6:15)

*If things get too heated, we will take a break, pray, and come back to the discussion


(Isaiah 40:31, James 3:17, Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 3:13)

*Divorce is not a topic for discussion.

(Mark 10:2-12, Malachi 2:16, Matthew19:8-9, Hebrews 13:4, 1Corinthians 7:1-16)

*We will be open and honest with each other, telling the truth in love.

(Ephesians 4:25, Proverbs 26:28, Colossians 3:9-10, Psalm 15:1-2, Proverbs 6:16-19,

Proverbs 16:13, Zechariah 8:16-17, 1 Peter 3:10)

*We not yell at each other.

(Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:4, Ephesians 4:2, Proverbs 18:21, James 1:26, James 3:17,

Proverbs 21:23, Colossians 4:6, Proverbs 16:24)

*If we cannot come to an agreement or compromise, we will agree to disagree or table the

discussion for a later time.

(Ecclesiastes 7:8, Romans 15:5-6, Proverbs 25:11)

Set 2: The Rules I Set for Myself

  1. I recommend devoting adequate time and prayer when establishing a set of rules for yourself. Often, there are things we may need to work on that we don't always recognize, or want to recognize, in ourselves at first glance. We should ask God for wisdom and guidance when creating both sets of rules. If you find it's a struggle to know what you need to work on as an individual to bring peace to your marriage, consider asking your mate for some insight. Hopefully you both are at a place where you can share and discuss openly things that may need to be addressed. If your spouse says things you don't like or agree with, try not to argue or devalue their words. Instead, listen to them and seek to understand why they feel the way they do. Ask questions and try to see things from their perspective. Understand that even if you don't agree with their views, they feel the way they do for a reason and their feelings matter. Then, take it all to God in prayer and ask Him to show you where you need a deep heart change. Here are some examples of rules I have decided to set for myself:

*I will focus more on the positives in our relationship (and in life) than the negatives.

(Philippians 4:4-8, Galatians 6:9, Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:4, Isaiah 12:2, Proverbs 3:13-18)

*I will choose to walk in the fruit of the spirit.

(Galatians 5:16-26, John 15:1-5, Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 3:10)

*I will not be a nag. I will, instead, take my cares and concerns to God in prayer.

(Philippians 4:6, Exodus 14:14, Romans 12:12, Proverbs 21:9, Proverbs 27:15-16, Psalm

40:1, Romans 8:25)

*I will keep my faith in God and not give up on Him or my marriage.

(2 Chronicles 15:7, Hebrew 10:36, Hebrews 11:1, Proverbs 3:5, Lamentations 3:25-26, John

13:7, Psalm 37:7-8, Hebrews 4:15-16, Mark 11:22-23, James 1:1-18, Matthew 17:20)

*I will ask God for wisdom and understanding in my relationship with my spouse.

(James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, James 3:13-18, Proverbs 3:13-18, Romans 12:2, Matthew 7:24,

Philippians 1:9-10)

*I will choose to fight for my relationship instead of engaging in a flight response.

(Hebrews 12:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Even with rules established, we must remember that we are all perfectly imperfect people and it's possible we will make a mistake. It's important that we stay humble, acknowledge our mistakes, ask for forgiveness and continue to move forward with a heart and desire to follow the rules we've set for ourselves. Additionally, when our partner messes up, its equally as important that we choose to show them love, mercy, and grace through their struggles.

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