4 Ways to Turn Your Marital Tiffs Into Moments of Connection
I was 22 years old, and he was 26 when we publicly pledged our hearts to each other.
Thirty years later, we have been richer and poorer, more healthy than sick, and have had better or worse; good times and bad.
A framework for the bad times are what I like to call marital tiffs. According to Webster’s dictionary, a tiff is formally defined as a petty quarrel, especially one between friends or lovers. Keep in mind, tiffs are trivial, but they matter to us.
In some seasons we experience more disagreements than others – but tiffs are a part of every marriage. Those moments when he constantly seems to ignore your request to wash the dishes or when you strongly disagree with the way he’s spending money.
In moments of disagreements, you might find yourself digging in or trying to hold your ground just because (pick a reason: you think you’re right, you don’t want to concede, you’ve always done it this way, this is what your parents did), when the reality is you have lost sight of your marriage, and are likely focusing only on you.
It’s important yet hard to remember in moments of disagreements, that we each learn a lot from our home of origin. For example, my parents’ marriage of almost 50 years had healthy doses of loud, raucous communication intermingled with laughter and happy memories. Nothing of what I saw of my parents’ marriage deterred me from marriage, so without much thought, I assumed my own marriage would be similar to theirs.
On the other hand, my husband was completely undone by his parents’ divorce and came into our marriage with the mindset that divorce would never happen to his own family as it was just too painful of an experience. Based on my husband’s experiences, he did everything in his power to avoid the same outcome as his parents. So sometimes, our conversations were stilted and awkward, and I had no idea why.
We knew we wouldn’t always see eye to eye, but I didn’t anticipate the ramifications of how our expectations would affect our day to day living. Subconsciously our learned marriage expectations based on what we saw in our parents’ marriages dynamic impacted our disagreements.
What I’ve learned to be helpful through these difficult moments in marriage is that disagreements are what make marriages fruitful, if we allow them.
Here are four ways you can turn your marital ‘tiffs’ into fruitful blessings for your marriage.
- Focus on seeing your husband’s viewpoint. In most disagreements, couples begin to see that the disagreement isn’t about the tiff itself, but instead past experiences that influenced our present viewpoint. For example, I’m ashamed to confess that I often was argumentative because that’s what I internalized as communication in marriage from my parents. Perhaps if I had stopped and listened, a tiff could have been eliminated. As you begin considering each other more, you will hear differently and act differently. Season your speech with grace (Colossians 4:6). Although this has been more of a challenge for me, the more I work at it, the easier it becomes. Grace-seasoned speech assumes the best, and it seeks to honor. In moments of disagreement, pause and pray for help to speak words through this lens of love.
- Be kind to each other (Ephesians 4:32). Our feelings should not dictate kindness. Even while lying in a puddle of tears because we feel hurt, or wanting to provide a sarcastic response, we are still called to be kind. Draw on His strength as you practice kindness.
- Allow space for you and your husband to process. Most times, I want to get to conflict resolution, bypassing my husband needs. Depending on you and your husband’s personality, learned response to conflict, and possible seasons of pressure or stress, you both may need space to process before being able to address the situation in a healthy, mature way. Be mindful of these internal and external factors, and allow each other space so you are able to find a resolution.
- Acknowledge that tiffs or disagreements will happen. It seems strange to acknowledge but most marital disagreements are temporary and necessary. They may last two days, two weeks or two months. But recognizing that all married couples experience these difficulties and that it is possible to walk through them in a way that adds to your marriage is when you learn, grow and become stronger. This does not mean that you take a timeout from your marriage, but instead recognize that you’re both in a space where you’re trying to figure out a new rhythm for your union.
When we learn the truth of “My grace is all you need; my power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT),” we as wives learn to rely on Him first and foremost to preserve us as we navigate the temporary turbulence in our marriages. Marital tiffs are a springboard for growth.
Wife Step: The next time you are in a heated disagreement, agree to step back. Inspect your words and your actions. Give yourself and your spouse time to regroup and reflect so that you can reconnect.
Nylse Esahc is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She recently published her first book – My Best Marriage Advice. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.