I was twenty-two years old before I learned I did not have to live by my emotions. Proverbs 29:11 puts it this way, “A fool gives full vent to her anger, but a wise wife keeps herself under control.”
Did you notice this verse does not say except at home behind closed doors?
Within the first few months of marriage we established fighting rules. Rules were needed because when I felt like I was losing an argument, my first reaction was to leave the room, slamming a door behind me. We agreed: no walking away, no door slamming, no yelling and try to stay on topic.
Often after these rules were made I would rock like a rocking horse in my chair, wanting very much to leave. Yet, our commitment kept me there until we worked through our differences.
Now days I don’t even desire to walk out; winning isn’t my goal any more—resolution is the focus.
How surprised Todd and I were when friends confessed to swearing at each other while fighting. Another couple had to get counseling because the wife was hitting and pulling her husband’s hair. A third couple admitted to going days without talking to each other waiting for the other person to apologize. These were close Christian friends, couples we respected.
If any of these scenarios are familiar, there is still hope and they do not have to be “normal”. I came into marriage thinking yelling, walking out and slamming doors were normal, but having fighting rules change that. Obviously, the rules don’t matter if we don’t uphold them. Thankfully, both Todd and I live by our rules, plus one more.
The last rule has kept us working long at understanding one another, but has at times had to be respectfully bent. The is: don’t let the sun go down on your anger. This is a Biblical command. Again, I give credit to Todd for upholding this rule and pursuing talking out a problem when I may have chosen to roll over.
When I speak of respectfully bending this rule, I mean agreeing to stop talking until the next day. There are times when we are so tired or our conversation is spinning in circles and we KNOW a good night’s sleep will help our communication more than demanding resolution right now. As long as we both agree, we post pone our discussion until the sun comes up the next day.
Honoring these rules has lessened the length of our conflicts dramatically—it is about “us” reconciling not about “I” getting my way or “me” winning.