Website owner:  James Miller

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On argument and strife in marriage

Some homes are filled with argument, strife, bickering, contention, accusation, recrimination, denunciation, yelling, screaming, chaos. The climate is just bad, ugly, nasty, poisonous. It is a hellish environment. People out of control. People living like animals. People who just don’t know how to live life. A child growing up in such an ugly environment might think that that is the way all marriages are, the way all homes are, that that is just life. He has been acclimated to that kind of living and that is all he knows. And then, when he marries, the climate of his home just happens to turn out to be the same as in the home he was raised in. A climate of strife and argument. The entire thing just repeated itself. And it keeps repeating, from one generation to the next. Argument, bickering and strife as a way of life is passed from father to son to grandson.

What underlies such ugly environments? Sin — selfishness, excessive pride, ego, impulsiveness, lack of control, sexual misconduct, jealousy, vindictiveness, self-will, obstinacy. All kinds of sins can play a part. Sin can play havoc in a home.

Now I want to observe that not all homes are this way. It is possible to have a home that is the exact opposite. It is possible to have a home that is essentially free of argument and strife; possible to have a very good, peaceful, healthy climate in a house. I can tell you that because I have been married to one woman for just under fifty years and our home has been a very peaceful and happy one, one essentially free of argument. A happy, healthy, peaceful home does not occur simply by accident or good luck, however. Not at all. It happens because of the personal management of the people living in the house i.e. the way the occupants of the house manage themselves. If peace in your home means a lot to you, if it is really important to you to have a healthy, happy home, there is much you can do to make that happen. But it won’t happen just naturally. You must make it happen. You need to give the matter some reflective thought and then manage yourself in such a way as to make it happen. Let me explain more by quoting some words of Jesus:

Matthew 5:38-47 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' {39} "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. {40} "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. {41} "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. {42} "Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

Christianity places a lot of emphasis on peacefulness, on avoidance of argument and strife; and on passive response to badness. If your spouse has a quick, volatile temper that erupts like a volcano, shooting fire ten miles high, and you keep your cool and respond kindly, there will be no argument. If your spouse is lazy and doesn’t carry her part of the load and you respond with no words but by simply carrying her part of the load as well as yours, there will be no argument. If she, for one reason or another doesn’t do a thing that ought to be done, and you quietly do it, there is no argument. If your spouse has faults and you simply have patience with them (resign yourself to putting up with them) there will be no argument. One of the most important things in life is a good, healthy relationship of respect and love between husband and wife. It is worth a great deal of self-sacrifice to attain that. And it can be lost very easily just by a few impulsive words or wrong actions. You have to watch your words. You have to watch your conduct. You have to control your temper. You have to act as Jesus taught us to act.

The most important thing to remember is this: Don’t criticize. Criticism never achieves anything. It just puts people on the defensive. It makes them angry. It causes argument.

Avoid confrontations. Avoid accusation. Avoid harsh words. Have regard for the other person’s ego and don’t fool with it.

Forget about trying to change your spouse. You are going to have to accept him as he is. He will never change. You can change yourself, but you can’t change your spouse. In my case, my wife and I are probably, in most ways, total opposites. We have a few very important things in common (my wife is a very decent and good person), but in many, many ways we are very different. Nonetheless our marriage is a happy one.

Ego and pride play a big part in causing arguments. Big egos get people in trouble. Big egos cause people to be very sensitive. They cause a great deal of foolishness. Humility leads to peace. Ego leads to conflict. Selfishness causes problems, arguments. To have a marriage that works, you must be determined to make it work. You must be willing to go not just half way, but much more than half way. You have to be a good person yourself, you have to live by the teachings of Jesus, you have to be the kind of person your spouse can respect and trust. You have to be humble, kind, considerate, self-denying, agreeable, willing to give more than you get. You must treat your spouse politely, fairly, well; discussing, conferring, cooperating. And don’t argue with them. Argument and strife will destroy a relationship.

Jan 2016

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