Day 22 — Five Tips for Arguing Well
31-Day Marriage Devotion
“What causes quarrels and what causes 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 the curse of Adam. 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 allowed when you are suspicious of yourself. 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 a 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 charge into conflict making statements. Ask questions. Be suspicious of your assumptions by realizing you’re working with insufficient data. More times than not it will 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 in warranted you to sin against God and your spouse? I remember as a kid 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 with a ruler and did not divide the five parts equally. An argument ensued. Sadly, many of my arguments have not evolved much beyond the trivialities of sharing a candy bar.
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:
- Expectations: Why are you surprised that your spouse does wrong?
- Suspicious: Are you more suspicious of yourself than your spouse?
- Remember: Who is the foremost sinner in your marriage, from your perspective?
- Questions: Do you typically believe you have all the facts when you’re in conflict with your spouse?
- Trivialities — Is it more important for you to be right or be redemptive, if “right” and “redemptive” are at odds with each other?
James said you sinfully argue because there are warring desires inside of you. As you reflect on the tips and questions, how do you need to change so you can be a more effective redemptive communicator?
Originally published at Rick Thomas.