I typically do all our lawn care by myself. On a very hot day, my sweet wife felt sorry for me and tried to help. As I was mowing, I glanced over to see her using the weed whacker in an area I could mow in seconds. Not wanting her to waste her time, I shouted over the extreme loudness of our combined lawn equipment, “You don’t have to do that area. I will just do it with the mower.”
She shot me an angry, hurt look, tossed her weed whacker to the ground, and went inside. I thought, “What just happened here?” Feeling misunderstood, I followed her inside, and we had this whole thing about a trivial thing! Silly fights cause serious damage. Of course they do. So how do we skip the silly fights? The problem often lies in the unnecessary, unrealistic, outright wrong things we add to the tension. Here are 4 things to avoid during conflict in marriage.Silly fights cause serious damage.
1. Interpretation: “You did this because_______________.”
So many silly fights start because spouses misinterpret the situation. Due to the loudness of the lawn care situation, my wife’s interpretation of how I said it was wrong. I truly wanted to save her some weed-whacker time and raised my voice to be heard over the lawn equipment. She interpreted my shouting as anger. Our wives are not always great interpreters. But guys, I think we may be worse. Bottomline, you and I don’t have the ability to clearly interpret our wives and their actions.
2. Mindreading: “I know you’re thinking ______________.”
Somewhere along the way, I determined I was a gifted mind reader. Early on in our marriage, I was convinced I knew what my wife was really thinking, especially during conflicts. So I treated her like everything I imagined she was thinking, she was actually thinking. How unfair is that? It is a powerful day when you and I realize we have zero mindreading skills.
3. Comparison: “Well I may have done that, but at least I didn’t ___________.”
The words “at least I didn’t” have never, in the history of marriage, been good for a marriage. No wife has ever said without sarcasm, “I’m sorry. You are right. What I did was worse than what you did. Therefore, I now feel sorry for my thing, and no longer feel hurt by your thing. Thanks for bringing that healthy perspective to our relationship.” Comparing transgressions brings nothing to a relationship but added tension.
4. Threats: “Well if you are going to ___________, then I will just___________.”
As someone who has worked with marriages for 20 plus years, let me say as clearly as I can: Threats are never OK. It’s unkind and creates fear, anger, and anxiety in your wife. Nothing you want or need from your wife is worth the damage and distance threats create in your marriage. Bullies use threats, and no woman wants to be married to a bully. If you use threats, stop.
Conflict in marriage may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be devastating. The next time you have a conflict with your wife, avoid interpretation, mind-reading, comparison, and threats. Instead, try a little tenderness. Otis Redding will never lead you wrong.
Sound off: What is the thing you wish you could avoid bringing into conflict with your wife?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever learned anything from watching a movie?”