Husband and wife on couch arguing

Dude Skill #3: FIGHT – Part 5


Fighting The Good Fight (by Amie Patrick)

Darrin and I have struggled mightily learning how to fight well. He’s much more comfortable with conflict than I am. In the fight-or-flight model, he’s a fighter, and I’m a flier. He’s willing to jump right into the poo fully clothed, while I”m looking for a way not to get my hair wet. Even when a situation arises that makes a hard conversation inevitable, I resist being the one to start talking about the issue. Overall in my life, I’ve seen conflict be more ugly and destructive than positive and redemptive, so my first instinct is to avoid it whenever possible.

Darrin and I operate at different paces when it comes to processing information and then communicating about it. Darrin is quick verbally. He can put words to his thoughts and articulate them much faster than I can. If I have time and space to think first, communicating well is easy, but when I am force to figure something out in a hurry, I become increasingly panicked and stuck. The more that Darrin keeps talking and explaining himself, the more I want to run from the room. He’s also a verbal processor. He figures out what he actually thinks by testing several versions of it out loud. I’ve found it nearly impossible to wade through all of what he’s saying and decide which version most reflects his intentions. It’s been very challenging to ask him to be accountable about what he says, while also giving him freedom not to explain himself perfectly on the first try. And I’ve found it impossible to formulate my response while simultaneously trying to understand his.

There have been seasons in our marriage when we’ve wondered if we’ll ever be able to overcome our differences and learn to fight well. Here are a few things we’ve learned over time:

Husband and wife on couch arguing

Stop Viewing Each Other As Enemies

It’s helped us a lot to remind each other that we’ve on the same team, even in the middle of an argument when it feels as if we’re standing on opposite sides of the field. Going back to the big values that we have in common and working forward from there sometimes feels as if we are working backward, but it’s much better than getting stuck in the details on which we may never completely agree.

Early in our marriage we had a fight that started out about clutter but was really about deeper and bigger things. We spend most of a day letting tension build between us while we were busy with other things., and then we both exploded in anger. Because Darrin is so good with his words, it’s rare for me to find any holes in his very persuasive arguments right away. But this time, I quickly realized that the clutter on the dresser that he was complaining about consisted entirely of items that belonged to him. Finally, I could win! I dramatically picked up each item, threw it on the floor, and loudly stated the obvious: “And who does this one belong to? Not me!” I didn’t even try to hide my pleasure in proving him wrong.

To be continued in my next posting…


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