Thoughts On Fighting With Your Spouse On Christmas Morning

There’s never really a good time to get in an argument with your wife. Or your husband. But Christmas morning is an especially poorly chosen moment.

But, of course, that’s when I decided to start one.

The pinnacle of the fight occurred when my wife (Jen) was describing why she was quiet and a little upset, saying that I’d been rude all morning (for the record, she was probably right). It was at that moment, while preparing to drive to my parents’ house, as she’s putting on her make-up and I’m putting on my clothes, that I chose the immature route: “Tell me, I want to know exactly, what precisely did I say that was so rude?” If you’re detecting some fire, sarcasm, and sass in that question, you’re correct.

As any married person knows, and just about anyone who has ever argued with a loved one before, my question wasn’t exactly a bucket of water on a fire…more like a cannister of black powder.

After we had both apologized for the way we had argued (me, in particular), I began thinking back on the fight. I came away with a couple of quick lessons for myself that may prove helpful to you, as well.

1. There always seems to be one moment in a fight with a loved one, when the argument is on a precipice. There’s a fork in the road that will determine where the fight goes from here. Either it will die down and peace will be had, or it’s going to be taken to a whole other level.

I can choose correctly, and faithfully, speaking kind and calm words. I can put away my pride, which just wants to win an argument. And my selfishness, which always wants to have my needs met and have things seen my way. And my arrogance, which always thinks that I’m right and she’s wrong. I could humbly realize that, though I’m probably not the only one in the wrong, I am certainly to blame at one level or another. My sin has undoubtedly contributed to this disagreement. I could graciously forgive my wife, in my heart, for whatever wrongs I think she has committed. I could choose to put her above myself, to be loving and gentle and kind when I don’t really want to be. I could remember Proverbs 15:1, which says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Or I could be a smart-aleck.

Why do we choose option B so often?

It’s hard to admit wrong-doing (the words of Chevy Chase come to mind, in Fletch Lives — “It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong….I am not a big man.”). It’s hard to choose to be gracious and kind and gentle with no guarantee that the other party will reciprocate. If I act rightly and humbly in “that moment” I’m giving up a large part of my opportunity to nit-pick and point out where my wife’s wrong. And that’s hard to do…because I want her to know where she was wrong. I’ll apologize for my part, “You’re right, I did X, Y, and Z…but you…”

Why does there always have to be a “but…?” Why do I often choose to throw black powder on the fire?

2. Why are we often the least attentive, the most harsh, and the least serving towards the people we love the most?

As teenagers and children, we often are terrible to our parents, the people that we love the most. And then we get married, and we all-too-regularly continue the cycle.

Who I really am, deep inside, isn’t who I am to strangers, or acquaintances, it’s who I am to the ones closest to me. My boss, my wife, my closest friends. Luke Miedema recently was describing the large number of students he’s seen over the years that are the most serving, humble, kind kids in Memphis, TN, or Jamaica, or at Granny’s House. But the same students don’t have a working relationship with their parents because of bitterness and disrespect. This is very similar to what Dave said in his sermon last week, the true person inside of me, the true measure of my heart, isn’t seen by who I am in public, it’s who I am in private.

These are some of the things on my mind for this year. I want to choose to be humble, kind, and gracious towards my wife, especially in those precipice moments. And I want to continue to cultivate a genuine heart and “work out my salvation” as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, through prayer and Scripture.

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