Monday, 28 September 2009
This is in response to Polymath's blog.
Every so often people ask Mr. Brett and myself whether we fight. "Oh no," we answer, smugly, "we never do." Disbelieving, the other person will ask, "Really? Like...never?" To which we respond, "No, we don't fight. I guess we're just not argumentative people." After a year and a half of fielding questions in such a way, I have come to the conclusion that a) we are lying, but not intentionally, and b) such answers are not helpful.
Firstly, we really don't fight. When I hear the word "fight" I think "shouting". We don't shout. This is because we are not argumentative people. But we do "fight" if by that you mean that we disagree, and sometimes we get upset, or get on each others' nerves, and have to work it out later. So really I ought to answer, "Yes, we fight, but we don't shout."
Secondly, I've also realized that saying that we don't fight is not helpful, because it leads others (sometimes unmarried friends) to think that people never fight in a marriage, or worse, that they never should fight. This is absolutely not true.
So here is the good and bad of fighting.
In an ideal marriage, there would be no fighting. This is because conflict within marriage is caused by selfishness, and in an ideal marriage there would be no selfishness. Most people think this should be a GOOD thing.
Unfortunately, the only place where we can have an ideal marriage is in Heaven, where, ironically, there is no marriage.
So while on earth, all of us are sinful and selfish, so we will fight. Most people think this is a BAD thing.
But imagine what happens when we fight. One of us, or both of us, will not get our way. Considering that both of us are selfish, it is actually good practice not to get our own way. It is a way that God uses to teach us to be selfless. This is a GOOD thing.
And imagine further a selfish marriage within which there is no fighting. This means that one of the parties is getting his or her way all the time, and the other one is giving in to everything. This means that the selfish person will never get redeemed from his/her selfishness. This is a BAD thing. Or else, this could mean that both parties are getting their own way all the time, by not interacting with each other. Spouses that never cross paths rarely fight. Not only do they not get purified, they also don't really have a marriage. This is a BAD thing.
So ideally, we have a marriage within which there is a certain amount of fighting. When two selfish people get together, they impose their wills upon the other, there is a collision, and they realize that in order to co-exist, they must learn to be selfless. If they can learn this lesson, there will be more harmony, leading to a happy marriage. This is a GOOD thing.
But imagine, if you will, a marriage of two selfish souls who fight all the time, and neither of them will give way to become selfless. As a result, the marriage will be marked with unrelenting bitter conflict from the start, with no signs of ending without divorce. This is generally considered to be a BAD, UGLY thing.
But then...but then...imagine the depths of despair this desperately unhappy marriage will bring the two parties. Perhaps, in their bitterness, disappointment, hollowness, and brokenness, one or both of them will be driven to their knees, crying, "Lord, I can't do this myself. Help me!" Then he or she might accept the overwhelming grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with His Spirit (and by no other means is this possible), start to turn the wheels back on his selfish behavior. This is considered a VERY GOOD thing.
Does fighting bring you and your spouse closer to God? Does your spirituality reduce your tendency to fight?