Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Thirteen

Love Fights Fair

Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable.  From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another.  Pretty soon your mate started to slip off your lofty pedestal, and you off of theirs. At the same time, the storms of life began testing and revealing what you’re really made of. Work demands, health issues, in-law arguments, and financial needs flared up in varying degrees, adding pressure and heat to the relationship. Every couple goes through it. But not every couple survives it.

So don’t think living out today’s dare will drive all conflict from your marriage.  Instead, this is about dealing with conflict in such a way that you come out healthier on the other side.

The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you’ll ever do (or ever have done) to your marriage will most likely occur in the thick of conflict.  That’s because this is when your pride is strongest. Your anger is hottest.  You’re the most selfish and judgmental. Your words contain the most venom.  You make the worst decisions.  A great marriage on Monday can start driving off the cliff on Tuesday if unbridled conflict takes over and neither of you has your foot on the brakes.

 Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate, and enjoy a much deeper connection afterwards.  But how?  The wisest way is to learn to fight clean by establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If you don’t have guidelines for how you’ll approach hot topics, you won’t stay in bounds when the action heats up.

Basically there are two types of boundaries for dealing with conflict: “we” boundaries and “me” boundaries.  “We” boundaries are rules you both agree on beforehand, rules that apply during any fight or altercation.  And each of you has the right to gently but directly enforce them if these rules are violated.  “Me” boundaries are rules you personally practice on your own. 

Fighting fair means changing your weapons.  Disagreeing with dignity.  It should result in building a bridge instead of burning one down.  Remember, love is not a fight, but it is always worth fighting for.

Today’s Dare

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by.  Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

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