Every couple will have a disagreement every once in a while and even in the best of marriages it’s no different. Arguing is not pleasant, but sometimes it is necessary - not the argument itself, but what comes from it in way of our growing closer as a couple.
In the heat of the moment, we are both ‘in the flesh’ only focusing on what is wrong and how it makes us feel. At first we see our perception only. It is in the processing moments when we have time to think about the situation. At first, it may keep stirring feelings of anger, but we also take the time to think of ‘the other person’s perspective’.
As we pray about the situation, sometimes we try to see our spouse’s perception, but we still may feel they were the one who was wrong and all the things we wish we could tell them about how we feel – we can’t because it may stir up the argument again. And that is where we weigh how important the argument itself is over the feelings we have from what happened – and our feelings change as we give it time.
It is okay if a couple does not reach that full sensitivity and empathy of how each other may see things, because even though it is wonderful when we can fully understand, there are going to be times when we just cannot see our spouse’s perception. Sometimes, we are ‘not wired’ to think the way each other thinks, no matter how hard we try.
So how do we come together again? What happens after the heated argument and moments of processing?
When the “I’m sorry” is said, is it sincere? Sometimes, an apology can be said with unsaid words behind it, “I’m sorry you are upset and I don’t like this feeling – I want it to stop.” But if there is no understanding, or effort made to understand, then the apology can be ‘just words’ and not a soothing salve for the wound.
Anger is a secondary emotion. And when couples argue, anger usually stems from first being hurt, or embarrassed or from being prideful. Not that we intend to hurt or embarrass each other, but our initial feelings happen because of our makeup. How we first respond to certain things may come from our past. When someone else, either a parent, school mate, or ex-spouse, have said or done something that hurt us, we remember the ‘feeling’ as we compare it to our current situation.
When we can weigh those feelings against past hurts, to realize we are with a person whose intent or actions may be totally different; we can understand their perception better than if we target them as someone who hurt us in the past.
Your husband or your wife is not the enemy (this statement is said to those who are in a healthy marriage). Your spouse is FOR you, wanting you to succeed, wanting to be a help to you and to love you with an unselfish love. But we are not perfect, and all of us will act in our flesh at times. That is what we must always recognize that it is in our flesh, in which we allowed an argument to happen. Once the heat, the processing, and even the attempts of an apology happen, we begin to see (and even feel shame) that our spouse was wounded and we step out of our flesh and back into the Spirit with feelings of angst that we were ever angry toward our spouse.
I tell you the truth, no matter how right I think I am about a situation in an argument with my husband, no matter how much I think he ‘should know what I need him to know and understand’ – none of that is ever worth the dejection in his face after he is truly sorry. After he is remorseful and realizes that he hurt me. Because he does not want to hurt me, and I don’t want to hurt him. So, how do you recover from the hurt you both feel?
Well, if you both practice listening to God’s Holy Spirit guiding your life, then in the moments of flesh on both parts, you then will come to the enlightenment of the Spirit, in which you care about your spouse’s feelings. The healing is in seeking that which we should have been seeking in the first place - His will.
God gives us the ‘how to’ if we would just read it. His Word tells us what we need to know.
Grace and forgiveness for each other is easier than we think. But, that can only come from our hearts turning to God. Because let me tell you – the enemy will get in your head and tell you why you should still be angry and he will turn your focus on yourself – your flesh.
Anytime I ever feel that I am in my flesh, whether I am upset, or feeling sad or lonely, I have to first realize I am thinking inwardly – about myself, and then, when I focus outwardly, and act – doing something for someone else, the negative feelings I had, disappear.
Love conquers all. The enemy will get out of our head when we act with love. Love isn’t a feeling, it is an action. We can have feelings of love, but when we act, we make a choice to love. And that is a lasting love.
Yesterday after having an argument with my husband, I saw our true love working to make our way back from our argument. While I was upset yesterday and hubby was at work, instead of seeing him as the enemy, or letting the real enemy put thoughts in my head, I prayed and I asked forgiveness for my part and I forgave my husband. But the anger was still there. I was still processing. I could not talk on the phone with him because I knew words or our tone in the moment, would only make things worse. This argument just needed time. Quiet time.
The fine line though, is the quiet time doesn’t need to be a punishment to your spouse, it needs to only be with the intention of letting your mind and body have a ‘cooling off period’. Some people don’t need this – I do. The whole time I was quiet – I was praying for my husband. I first asked forgiveness for any action I displayed through anger that was not what God wanted from me. I asked the Lord to help me get over the fleshly feelings I allowed to hurt me, and then – I acted with love for my husband even though he didn’t know it while I was doing it.
Usually, when hubby comes home from work, I am busy fixing dinner and he will take our greyhounds for their evening walk and feed them. Yesterday, I walked and fed them before he got home to do it (even though it was cold) and I had dinner ready for him. I had picked up the groceries, and cleaned the house with special touches. I organized his closet as I put his laundry away. Just small acts of love.
I didn’t do this because I needed to redeem myself, or get in his good graces, I didn’t do it as a way to show that I was the bigger person who could do for him while we were out of sorts. I did it purely out of love. Knowing that any argument we could ever have would never be worth staying upset over – and, hurt my fellowship with the Lord. Even though an argument takes two people, it is also an individual thing. Where is our heart? The heart we can account for is our own. I cannot tell my husband what to feel or make him think like me (and I wouldn’t want to).
His individual heart is between he and God, just as mine is. So, I had to pray, ask the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, and I sincerely was able to do those acts of love. And, my husband was responsible to go to the Lord and work things out with his heart too. Then, we were able to come together in Grace and Forgiveness, because we first receive it from our Father. God shows us how to love, how to forgive, how to be gracious, and how to encourage.
So, the ‘ink in the dryer’ was such a small thing and not worth an argument. But the response from my husband after I told him what I went through to fix it, was what hurt me. He was at work – on a Monday… wives, why do we do this? It was not his intention to hurt me, and it was not my intention to frustrate him at work. I’m a firm believer that ‘after the argument’ begins with our own hearts talking to the Lord. And He is just, to forgive, to heal, to teach and to Love.
We Christians deal with our flesh every day. We are not going to be perfect, nor should we expect our spouse to be. But, we can practice a lifestyle of having our hearts focused on the things of the Lord.
When you have an argument, check yourself and ask God to reveal to you why you are really upset. Not focusing on the thing that made you upset, but focusing on your heart’s response. Are you feeling prideful? Shame? Fear? Belittled?
No matter what you or your spouse has said or done, you can only account for your own heart. If both husband and wife make a practice to check their own heart with what the Spirit is whispering to them individually, then ‘after the argument’ can only bring us closer.