June 25, 2012

Arguing-What's the point?

This is Part 2 in the reply to reader mail.  You can read part 1 over here.  I don't know why it continues to amaze me how the Lord is always working and planning and carrying out not only His will but also His perfect timing.  I started this post a week ago.  I thought I was doing so great to actually reply to a reader question right away.  We were keeping some little friends of ours last Saturday.  Allen had work to do in the girls' room and all the kids, ours plus four more, were playing on the train in the backyard.  I sat down on the deck to work enjoying hearing them laugh and the train bell ring.  These days they like to play on top of the box car which is probably about four feet high.  Our kids climb up and down all the time and use it as a launching pad for the zip line.

As far as moms go, I am not particularly a worrisome person.  Many years ago I put them in the hands of the Lord and I just let them have their fun with some basic safety guidelines.  They know not to play with fire or go in the road or talk to strangers and that seems to about cover it.  But watching them walk on top of the train, I briefly thought maybe I shouldn't let them do that.  But they have been doing it without injury for so long, I reasoned it was okay.

Not five minutes later I hear a scream and along comes one of the kids we were keeping.  He left a nice trail of blood as he came.  The girls came behind wondering if they should film it for a possible scene in some future movie.  He had not fallen off the train as I suspected but had cut his toe on something.  I thought that was good because how lame would it be if I had the forethought to tell them to get down and I didn't and then someone, not even our kid, got hurt.  I grabbed a towel and was holding pressure on the wound when almost immediately, I heard another scream, also from the playground.  This time Elisabeth came along telling us she was trying to get off the train to tell us Josiah was hurt when she tripped and hit the back of her head.  She had tears in her eyes which meant it must have really hurt.  Ellie never cries when she is hurt.

I tried to take the towel off of Josiah's toe but the blood was still coming pretty good.  He was beginning to worry about infection setting in and the necessity for stitches.

Don't you love the difference between boys and girls?  I think girls get a bad rap here.  All you ever hear is how weak they are but when it comes to injury or illness I find girls to have a much stronger constitution for sure.

Without even looking at her head, I told Elisabeth to go to the house and get an ice pack from the freezer.  As she turned to walk away I see her blond curls were covered with blond and down the back of her dress was soaked with red.

Anyway, they are both okay now and no one needed stitches.  But that was the end of writing.  The interesting thing is I had left off with the note to write about having no promise for tomorrow.  Read on to see the significance of God's timing.   

Just to refresh your memory, the reader question we are discussing is...

Do you ever argue? Or do you always get along? 

Dear Jenny,

What is the point in arguing?  It is such a waste of time, an incredible energy sink, and ultimately, it solves nothing.  I come from a family of arguers and a long heritage of divorce and bitterness.  I can tell you there is no good to come from it.  We would all do well to carefully apply the Biblical principles for dealing with differences of opinion, a rift in relationships or marital strife.

To begin this discussion we must come to an agreement and understanding of who we are.  By that I mean, in a Christian marriage we are not just husband and wife but also brother and sister in the Lord.  We are simultaneously held accountable for our behavior in both relationships.  This is a big lot to tow and should be carefully considered by young people considering a marriage relationship. The question is not just can I love, honour and respect this person for the rest of my life as their spouse, but also am I willing to carry the responsibility of this relationship as I would one with any of my Christian brethren.

Quite frankly, I believe if we approach our marriage relationship with that perspective, much arguing and heartbreak in marriage would be avoided.  Consider when you have a difference of opinion with someone from work or church.  Is the first thing we do to stomp off, ignore them, pout or insult them (to their face or behind their back)?

I do know people who openly behave this way all around and that is not what I am talking about.  Those people have many other issues to deal with that extends far beyond this discussion.

I ask this question of those who will go to great lengths to keep peace in other arenas but come home to treat their spouse with very low regard, tolerance or respect.

Most people seem to have a much higher level of tolerance and much more endurance for working things out with others than they do with their spouse.  Consider for a moment the way we approach a disagreement with someone from work or church verses how you might approach it with your husband.  Somewhere along the line someone decided it was normal to have arguments within marriage and that makes it okay and we can act any old way we want and that is okay, too.  However, I am here to tell you, while it may be normal, it is not acceptable, nor is it in God's will for couples to argue, anymore than we are to argue among the brethren or with those in the world.
Galatians 5:13 tells us, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."  There are numerous other scriptures which deal in the topic of disagreement among brethren.  I suggest anyone struggling with this issue might read through them and memorize a few, keeping in mind the idea that your spouse is also your brother.

This is not to say there are not times we will disagree or that there won't be topics that should be discussed.  But to say, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so and it doesn't involve arguing.  Thus if we will think of our spouse as someone who should be regarded with the greatest respect and love we will serve each other, and ultimately ourselves (remember we are one flesh) much better in the long run.

Another basic to keep in mind is the admonition in Ephesians 4:26-27 "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."  Did you get that?  Being angry is a sin.  Furthermore, the Apostle Paul tells us here that to go to bed without settling problems between us allows Satan to gain ground in our life.  If that is not enough to encourage couples to avoid arguing and settle problems immediately, I don't know what is.

Just deal with things as they come up in an honest and loving way and everyone will be happier.  Why waste a day, a night or days and nights in disagreement with each other when you could be basking in the joy and love you share?

Additionally, the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:7 to not be in complete harmony with our spouse hinders our prayers to the Lord. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."  I don't know about you, but I need that lifeline to the LORD.  I don't want to have anything causing static in our communication.

If we back up to the beginning of time with the creation of Adam and Eve and the giving of marriage in the Garden of Eden, we see as a husband and wife we are one flesh. Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."  Let me ask you this?  Have you ever tried to argue with yourself?  How did that work out?  It seems pretty silly doesn't it?  If we really take our marriage vows with the great earnestness with which God intended, then one must wonder how we can argue with our spouse.

In dealing with any relationship the Bible tells us to prefer others over ourselves. Note Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"  Ouch!  That takes a lot of wind out of most arguments.  Typically, let's face it.  Most of the disagreements I have been privy to between married couples have had to do with one person thinking the other didn't do right by them.  If we are truly putting others needs, feelings and preferences before the other person's we will find much less to argue about.

Oh, and what about humility?  How many people argue because they think they are right or better than the other? Guess what?  We usually aren't right.  And even if we are, if we are arguing it doesn't matter because that is not the way we are to approach things, so we are wrong anyway.  Secondly, we are never better than anyone else and even if we were the minute we thought it, we became prideful so there that one goes out the window, too.  1 Peter 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

Then there are the common courteousies like empathy, sympathy, mercy and compassion.  If we have developed such character qualities and are displaying them to our spouse, again we will find less to argue about.  And if there is some disagreement, we would approach it much differently if we are trying to see things from their point of view and using mercy and compassion when viewing their mistakes.

Wives, we are commanded to be in subjection to our husbands.  1 Peter 3:1  "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"  How many arguments would be prevented if we truly made that our heart's desire instead of thinking we know what is best?  And before you go on about how you do know best, go back to the beginning of this paragraph.  We are to honour and obey all the time, not just when we think he is right.  And before you go on about how he isn't a Christian, make note that this verse is specifically addressing wives married to lost men.  They are told they will win their husbands by their obedience.

Are you still trying to justify arguing?  Look at Proverbs 31:12 "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."  How does arguing do him harm?

1- We undermine his authority
2- we injure feelings
3- we drain emotional energy
4- we drain physical energy (what about all those sleepless nights?)
5- we negatively impact his ministry or work in life by causing distraction or by not carrying our part of being a help meet

And here is a really big one... I can not tell you how many times I have been party to a wife mouthing off to other women, family, etc... about her husband's shortcomings or the argument they had last night.  Wow!  What a way to cause harm to your husband.  Imagine what everyone else thinks when they go home from a conversation like that.  You weaken his testimony to the lost, his standing in the church and undermine his reputation before the world.  Imagine what others are thinking of your husband if you are airing your troubles with the world and then close your mouth, please!

I want to make a note here.  Couples often approach us for advice in various marriage topics or to find a solution to a problem.  I am not talking about that.  There is no shame or harm in seeking Godly counsel.  In fact, I believe it is a Biblical principle to seek help to improve your marriage when necessary.  But make sure you are speaking in confidence, in kindness, in love and that you are truly seeking counsel and not just griping because you didn't get your way in an argument.  I daresay, you might also consider seeking your husband's approval before you go to another lady for counsel.

One last thing to consider before we leave the topic of arguing... According to Proverbs 27:1 we have  no promise of tomorrow.  "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."

My one goal as I set out this morning was to finish this last point and get this post published.  Remember, I explained in the beginning how it was stopped dead in its tracks until today because of the dual injury on the playground.  So, bright and early I sat in the garden doing my study.  Later the family joined us for devotions.  After I tucked Carmella in for her nap, I returned to the same spot to finish a study I was working on.  Allen and the boys were mulching nearby.  It was so gorgeous out and everything seemed perfect in the world.  But for some people we know and love their lives were about to be changed forever.  

Within a few hours time, before lunch time even arrived, we received word of not one but two deaths within our church family.  The immediate thought came to my mind was the topic I was hoping to write on.  We do not know when our last breath, or the last breath of a loved one, will happen.  Not one of us, lost or saved, has a promise for another minute, hour or day.  What is it you want to leave behind?  Do you want to have unsettled business that you wish you had gotten right before your loved one left this earth?  Do you want to leave others wishing you had taken care of business?  Do you want to waste what might be your last minutes, days or hours with unproductive arguing?  

Live every minute as if it is your last and when dealing with relationships you won't go wrong.  If you put things in the perspective that you may not have another day to love the person before you, you will find most things aren't worth arguing over.  

Brother Harry lost his sweet Lily with no warning after more than 5 decades of loving each other and raising their family for God's glory.  This afternoon I know his heart is aching violently.  I know he longs to have one more minute with her.  And I am sure, as he is reflecting on their earthly life together, the last thing he is wishing for is more time he could spend arguing.  And believe me, brother Harry loves to argue!

So, I ask you again.  What is the point?  Make peace, give in a little and love the one God has given you.  It will make for a happier spouse, a happier you and a happier marriage.

To read about the Biblical approach to settling disagreements, stop back for part 3... coming soon.

1 comment :

  1. This was such a beautiful post, Kat! I love your analogy about arguing with ourselves, lol! Also love how you pointed out that wives can damage their husband's ministry or church standing, etc.

    I am sorry for your loss of your church friends, but what a powerful reminder to the rest of us not to waste what time we may have in arguing!

    What good comes out of arguing? It sure doesn't feel good and sure doesn't build up or bring joy to either you or the other person! All it does is prick little damaging holes in your relationship that need to be filled up with an "I'm sorry" and "Please forgive me" and forgiveness given.

    Communication, on the other hand, strengthens relationships! As long as the communication doesn't consist of name calling and arguing, lol!

    I am so glad that none of the kids got hurt!