with Felice Gerwitz
How can polar opposites still be married after 36 years of marriage? A snapshot of my marriage.
- He likes the outdoors – I like to view the outdoors while comfortably sitting indoors
- I like to read – he likes cliff notes or to tell him what the story is about
- I love cooking – he loves eating
- I dislike cleaning – he loves a neat home
- I am creative – he is a facts kinda guy
- I am not a perfectionist – he is
- I love to communicate everything that is on my mind – him, not so much
Fighting Fair in Marriage: Our disagreements ranged from:
- Child rearing – I’m strict he is permissive
- Pets – I’m a no pet is allowed – he is the more the merrier
- Kids – I was happy with two – he wanted ten
- Place to live – where and when we would build
- He wants to be together 24/7 – I like a little break to read
Reasons our marriage has lasted?
Because of our faith in GOD and the idea that marriage is sacred. It is a sacramental union and one that we entered into willing – with full knowledge and have an “until death do us part mentality about it. Marriage for us is not an option.
Faith is what binds us – it is what makes us attempt to make it work. Marriage is work – I don’t care if you’ve been married for one week or fifty years – it is a decision each day to care and love the other spouse even if we don’t want to.
During my first year of marriage I was ill equipped to handle a full time relationship. I had graduated from college – lived in a dorm – attained all kinds of social status – president, academic awards, etc. and I went on to teach. Sadly I was a hot-head to say the least, I knew what buttons to push, I would often cry, and if I didn’t get my way, threaten divorce. My husband said something that was very wise – and very possibly Divine intervention – he said, first I need to get my emotions under control before he would talk to me and secondly that if I threatened divorce again I better mean it because he would follow through if I didn’t.
That was very bold of him.
“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
The trouble with fighting within marriage
- The reason people fight is never the REAL reason why … there is often a root cause of the discontent
- We are all broken
- We all have a past
- We all have been hurt by someone close to us
- We all are nothing without GOD
- Reasons are just that … substantiation for how you feel… think about it.
- He/ she doesn’t care
- I can’t do anything right – he/she is so critical
- I don’t get appreciation for all I do
- We are polar opposites on the things that really matter
- Giving Up
- Close off the other spouse – can ‘t hurt anymore if you don’t care
- Deciding it is better not to communicate because you want to keep from fighting
- He/she doesn’t listen anyway
- What I want – Me – Mine
- He/she doesn’t care about me
- I am tired of being stepped on
- I am the one always giving – doing – etc. and I’m tired of it
- Not fair:
- Everyone else has a vacation, lives in a house, drives a car etc.
- I make all the sacrifices
Mark 10:9 : “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Jesus’ Teaching about Divorce “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”…
So how do you fight fair in marriage? Set ground rules:
- Address the issue not the person – NO character assassination
- Keep your voice even – no yelling or screaming
- No character assassination
- No blaming – it is all your fault
- Address one topic at a time – don’t regress into the past
- Don’t argue in front of the children
- Don’t argue when there is not time to address the issue fully – when you or your spouse is walking out of the door for work/ meeting/ playtime w/ kids, etc.
- Ask to be sure you understand the cause of the disagreement
- Intense emotions – take a break until you can talk calmly
- No threatening divorce
- No violence – on either part
The ROOT of the issue
- Why are your arguing – what is the root cause
- Insecurities – hurt, neglected, feeling of rejection
- Health – mental illness
- Analyze yourself:
- Do you remain calm?
- Do you often blame your spouse?
- Do you lose your temper?
- Do you listen?
- What triggers do you use to get your spouse upset?
- DO you close yourself off?
- Do you need to apologize
- Do you tend to say hurtful things?
- Are you ill?
- Are you worried about being left?
- Do you always want to win?
- Do you communicate well? Too little?
- Do you have to have the last word?
- Analyze your spouse: You are not dwelling on what he/she does wrong – you are analyzing ways to defuse the argument or communicate more effectively – this exercise is not to work you up even more and get angrier…
- Why are they angry – not what you think – ask
- Is there a misunderstanding?
- Do you understand where your spouse is coming from – his/her past?
- Does your spouse always want to win?
- Does your spouse communicate well? Too little?
- Does your spouse close him/herself off?
Get back to the basics:
- Compromise is essential – sometimes there isn’t always one right
- Complement each other – say, I love you
- Learn to talk respectfully – Value the other person’s opinion
- It’s okay to agree to disagree – and be okay with it
- Take a time out – brief.
- Stick to the topic – this isn’t the time to bring everything else in
- State the issue honestly and as clearly as you can – if you are emotional, try to get a grip if possible
- Learn from mistakes – grow and change