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How Fighting Can Help Your Marriage

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Husband and wife pointing blame at each other
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Healthy conflict can facilitate communication, understanding, trust and respect if we choose to manage our differences and disagreements in nourishing ways.

There are few things in life as disheartening as unhealthy conflict with your spouse. But conflict doesn’t have to destroy relationships. Healthy conflict can be a doorway to deeper intimacy. It can facilitate communication, understanding, trust and respect if we choose to manage our differences and disagreements in nourishing ways. I hope you’ll realize that healthy conflict is a way to discover your spouse’s most important feelings and needs.

When was the last time you were able to have a productive, Christ-like conversation in the middle of an argument with your spouse? That doesn’t happen, right? In the middle of a fight, when you’re frustrated, hurt or upset, your heart closes. Understand that when your heart is closed, you’re likely to react in unloving ways (anger, withdrawal, sarcasm, defensiveness, etc.).

A closed heart is the reason it’s practically impossible to have a healthy, kindhearted conversation with your spouse in the middle of an argument. So, how do you move from unhealthy conflict to healthy conflict?

Instead of trying to force your way through a conversation, do what Jesus himself recommended: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). The key to moving from unhealthy conflict to healthy conflict is to first get the log out of your own eye so that instead of simply reacting, you can thoughtfully respond to your spouse in a productive, Christ-like way.

This is how to open your heart and “fight” your way to a better marriage:

Call a timeout. Separate for a brief time to allow your emotions to settle.

Verbalize to your spouse that you will be back to talk when your heart is open.

Name what you are feeling (I feel . . . unloved, disrespected, worthless, controlled, unimportant, etc.) and notice how it calms you. Do this during your timeout.

Pray. Ask God to reveal what is true about your feelings and what is true about your spouse.

Tapping into the power of healthy conflict is a matter of opening the door to your heart.


Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family.

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There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

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The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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