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Marriage Day 22: Five Tips for Arguing Well

Marriage Day 22: Five Tips for Arguing Well

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31-Day Marriage Devotion Resources

What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder (James 4:1-2).

It is impossible to live in a fallen world and not argue or disagree with another person. From birth to the grave, disagreements are part of life. The odds are so stacked against you that you will not be able to get through life without conflict, which is why it would be good to learn how to argue well, especially with your spouse. Here are five tips for your marriage communication.

  • Expect the Obvious: A right understanding of the doctrines of man and sin will bring your expectations down to a sensible level. There are no authentic, righteous people in the world today, not without Christ’s alien righteousness. We all are sinners. No one has escaped Adam’s curse. If you are surprised by your spouse’s sin, you have forgotten the obvious: your spouse is not perfect. I am not making a case to sin more, and I’m not making light of sin, but I am stating the obvious: as John said, if you say you don’t sin, you’re a liar (1 John 1:7-10).
  • Be Suspicious: Humble biblical suspicion is essential when you are observing and sizing up others. Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5 that if you perceive the log is in your eye, you are in the right place to engage another imperfect person. Self-deception or stubbornness will keep you from seeing that big log in your eye, which will keep you from responding to your marital strife correctly. A person who is humbly self-suspicious is a person who can see clearly.
  • Remember Who You Were: You put Jesus on Adam’s tree. Because of your sin, the Father executed His Son on the cross. Because of your sin, the Son willingly chose to die on that cross. Your crime against the Lord of the universe makes you the biggest sinner that you know. All of the things done to you do not compare to what you did to Sovereign God. Paul understood this, even at the end of his life, as he labeled himself the foremost sinner (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
  • Ask Questions: Do not enter into conflict by making statements. Ask questions. Be suspicious of your unique assumptions by realizing you’re working with insufficient data. It will usually be better for you to ask more questions before stating your opinion. It’s easy to have a high opinion of your views and your rightness, which can keep you from asking proper questions.
  • Little to Die Over: Think about your past arguments. How many were so important that they warranted you to sin against God and your spouse? I recall, as a child, getting into an argument with my four brothers over a Snickers Bar. We were a poor family, and on that day, we had only one candy bar. One brother measured the candy bar with a ruler and did not divide the five parts equally. An argument ensued, and harsh things were said. Sadly, many of our arguments have not evolved much beyond the trivialities of sharing a candy bar.

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Time to Reflect

Perhaps you are currently in a disagreement with your spouse. If so, based on the five tips, here are a few reflective questions:

  1. Expectations: Why are you surprised that your spouse does wrong?
  2. Suspicious: Are you more suspicious of yourself than your spouse?
  3. Remember: Who is the foremost sinner in your marriage, from your perspective?
  4. Questions: Do you typically believe you have all the facts when you talk with your spouse?
  5. Trivialities: Is it more important for you to be right or restorative if right and restorative are at odds with each other?

Practical Suggestion

James said you sinfully argue because you have warring idols inside you. As you reflect on the tips and questions in this devotion, how do you need to change to be a more effective and redemptive communicator?

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