Fighting & Marriage

conflict is inevitable but combat is optional

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” ~ Max Lucado

Fighting in marriage (or relationships) is a common topic of discussion and it can get a bit discouraging. It seems that everywhere I look there is some one talking about how horrible marriage is or how miserable their spouse makes them feel. I am thankful for the wonderful pockets of encouragement like the happy wives club and other great marriage sites but the fact that “fighting” is such a normal thing still bothers me.

Even on good, encouraging, christian sites I see questions about “what people fight about the most in marriage” and other similar thoughts. All this hype about fights has always made me assume that married people fight frequently, that it’s just a part of the territory.

As you may already know, Alex and I got married after only knowing each other for 35 days. Ours is definitely a unique situation and we had more than a few nay-sayers discouraging us both before and after we got married. At one point someone made a comment that we “wouldn’t really be married (or know what we were doing…can’t remember exact wording) until we’d had our first fight”. Apparently fighting is an essential part of marriage…or is it?

We’ve now been happily married for over 4 years. And I can’t say that we’ve ever had a “fight”. Sure, we disagree about things from time to time. We most certainly do not always see eye to eye and yes we’ve gotten upset and even angry at each other but fight… I can’t say that we’ve ever done that.

If you look up the word in the dictionary it’s all about violence and struggling or warring against one another, one definition specifies the use of weaponry or physical blows. Now, I doubt that most people mean physically hitting one another when they speak of “fighting with their spouse”, but violence can certainly occur in other methods that don’t have to do with physical harm. Hurling unseemly words at one another and so forth. I assume that the latter is more what people mean when they say “fight”. Perhaps, some are merely referring to simple disagreements that are prevalent in all relationships, but if that’s the case I think we should find a more appropriate word.

I went in to marriage expecting a lot of negative things that are not necessary and that haven’t happened. I assumed yelling and fighting was the norm so I was pleasantly shocked to find that we could happily function without it. We can disagree and talk things through instead of screaming at each other or resorting to hitting.

It was a foreign concept to me both because of my mom & step father’s relationship and because of all the off-hand comments that I’d heard about fighting in the marriage relationship.

Fighting doesn’t have to be the norm.

I’m not trying to say that my marriage is any better or worse than any one else’s. We have our issues and shortcomings, believe me! I just want to be a voice that says marriage does not = fighting and marriage is most definitely not miserable!

Sure, marriage is hard. Alex and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that doesn’t mean we hate each other or yell when we disagree. Fighting is not a right of passage to a “real” relationship

Marriage is not miserable, and it should never be violent.

Marriage is wonderfully hard and fantastically challenging. It’s beautiful. It’s a growing experience and it’s just plain amazing.

When you have disagreements how do you avoid fights in your marriage? I’m planning to put together a list of ways to avoid fights soon, and I just might feature one of your ideas!!!


Thanks for reading
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Young wife, mama, author, blogger, encourager, friend. Lover of hot weather, chocolate, watching my kids giggle and encouraging people.

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  1. Stopping by from Monday blogging link up from The life of faith blog!
    Following on bloglovin!

  2. Great advice! Found you at GraceLaced Mondays! Have a wonderful week :)

  3. We don’t fight either and we’re coming up on 4 years. We do disagree but like you, we don’t fight like most “normal” couples. When we disagree we talk it through. Sometimes we take time to calm down and think about the other person point of view. My husband and I both try to see/understand what the other person is saying/thinking/feeling.

    • Thanks for sharing Poekitten! I like that you said you both try to understand it from the other’s perspective! That can be really hard to do sometimes, but it really does help doesn’t it?

  4. I think the amount of fighting and conflict in a marriage greatly depends on the personality of the individuals and their backgrounds, personal boundaries, the amount of stress in the marriage, and SO MANY other factors. I don’t think that fighting is a “right of passage”, but when you take two sinful, imperfect people, conflict is inevitable (and not just in marriage, in any relationship).

    Russ and I fought a lot in the first five years of marriage, but we were also two completely different people with different communication styles, totally different upbringings, different standards, and were really by all definitions totally incompatible. And we were under an insane amount of stress.

    For us, I think fighting was necessary to work through the countless issue to bring us to a point where we were more compatible and could communicate better with each other. Counseling and therapy (both individual and marital) helped us SO MUCH and now we don’t fight nearly as much. And now that we have a child, we try to make sure that when we can tell things are escalating, we stop so we don’t fight around Ezra. It doesn’t always happen that way, but we try.

    • I agree that personality has a LOT to do with it! I’m not trying to say that conflict is unnecessary, we have certainly had our share of conflict in our marriage as well. I think it’s awesome that you guys were able to work through it all and learn to communicate better with one another. That’s definitely a learning curve in the first few years of marriage, most especially if you have opposite personalities.

      Thanks for sharing your point of view Aprille <3

  5. LOVE this topic, Paula – and thanks for the shout out! Okay, I’m going to totally go against the grain here. Keith and I have been married since 2003 (no Spring chickens here), we are incredibly strong-willed, do not sweep anything under the rug (we don’t even have a rug in our marriage!), and we talk about everything. And….we’ve never had a fight.

    I know this isn’t the norm because we’re taught that marriage is supposed to be hard. But I don’t but into that. I look at it like this quote: “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I think this is applicable to marriage. The difference between those who LOVE going to work every day and those who muddle through it is the same in marriage.

    I don’t want to write a dissertation here (LOL) so I’ll share with you three things we think have contributed to our ability to disagree peaceably (and with great resolution):

    1. We always presume innocence. This allows us to ease into a discussion rather than crashing into an argument. (the only time my hubby has ever written a post for HWC it was on this topic – it’s old and was transferred from the former site so forgive the appearance :):;

    2. We have no plan B (it distracts from plan A). A healthy, loving and lifelong marriage is our plan A so we’ve never looked at divorce as an option. When you know you’ll be together until the end, there is no rush to come to an immediate meeting of the minds (agreement) about an issue. You can take your time, hear each other’s opinions and consider them. When you know have forever, there is nothing so urgent that warrants an argument. You have time on your side. What causes most arguments is not the issue itself but a lack of patience to resolve it; a rush to judgment.

    3.. We never have weighty conversations before bed (8pm is usually out cut off) because we are tired and will likely be less patient and more emotionally charged.

    4. We express our feelings from a vulnerable state (this is the hardest thing to learn how to do). Responses like anger and jealousy are really only masking the more vulnerable feelings of hurt, disappointment, fear, etc. The more aggressive responses are never the original emotion. Learning to stay in the original emotion (this will likely feel unnatural at first because we’ve trained ourselves to jump ahead to anger and frustration) can be challenging but in the end it will allow your marriage to go from being “wonderfully hard” to just plain ole’ wonderful.

    Okay, I wrote a dissertation anyway. Sorry about that, Paula! You hit on a topic I’m so passionate about and for some reason my fingers just kept typing. XOXO

    • LOVE your dissertation Fawn ! :)

      I think number 2 was my favorite. I like to think about “having forever to work it out” as well. That always helps me keep my cool, and brush off the little things a bit more.:)

      number 4 is definitely a hard one! I’m still working hard on that one, but it really does help!!!

      love this Fawn!!! thanks for sharing your view!

  6. I think it has SO much to do with the two people who are in the relationship—how similar they are when it comes to dealing with conflict, what their parents modeled when they were young, etc. Ryan and I are so different that it has taken a lot of work to get where we are now. I would normally be totally okay with saying, “Yes, we fight!” But under your definition here, I’ll take that back. Haha. I will add, though, that when we want to argue (well, really it’s me, because I get more worked up than he does), we try to go to bed. It is usually because it at night, and I am not as reasonable at night. The world just seems more serious and our problems overblown. We go to sleep and talk about it the next day, when we’re both feeling better.

    • Sleeping always helps me too! :) I agree that there are a lot of factors in it, but healthy disagreements and fighting are definitely two different things. Thanks for sharing your perspective Erica.

  7. My husband and I definitely went through a stage in our relationship where we ‘fought’. Not fought as in physical violence by any means, but we just really didn’t get along. That was before we were married and I’ll just say it took some growing up on both sides to get past that stage. But now we don’t fight. We disagree from time to time or upset or let one another down from time to time, but we haven’t had a ‘fight’ in years.
    One of the key things that helps us is the old adage, ‘Never go to bed angry.’ Except in our case that adage does not hold true. For me especially sometimes I just need some space (whether I really want it or not), especially at night when I’m all worked up over something. My husband knows that now and will just walk away or leave me alone until the next day. By then I’ve had time to cool down and as they say everything looks brighter in the morning.

  8. Max is great! I do think it depends on the personalities in the relationship. Conflict is not a bad thing if it leads to resolution and more closeness. Violence is never the answer. Great topic. Following from Playdates.


  9. My biggest suggestion is look at the positive…when we got married I started seeing the negative in Caleb, but over the years I realized that I was looking at the wrong side of the coin…for instance, Caleb is extremely stubborn (or hard-headed)…when we were dating I saw this as perseverance and it was only after getting married that I looked at it as stubbornness. So now, when he is acting stubborn, I remind myself of all the good things he does that are directly related to stubbornness or perseverance, such as staying married to me, keeping his job even when he wants to quit, etc. It has made all the difference in our marriage!!

  10. I didn’t know that little tidbit about you and your hubby–35 days! Wow! It must have been a powerful God-love that brought you together. Good thoughts on marriage, Paula. We should never take these things for granted.

  11. I have been married for 25 years, and my husband and I still fight on occasion (NEVER physically, just heated discussions). I think a lot of it has to do with personality. Some people really hate conflict and are much less outspoken than others. He and I both tend to speak our minds and that can cause some heated discussions. But there is a bright side: it also means there are never secrets or hidden agendas, either. However, as we have gotten older, we fight less and less frequently. I think the key for us has been to be sure to stick to the biblical roles God shows us in His Word. Even if I don’t like it, I submit to my husband’s authority if we disagree. And sometimes he shows love by giving in to something I desire. It’s a give and take always. Thanks for the thought-provoking post :)

  12. Excellent article and very well said! Disagreements are bound to happen when two people try to merge their backgrounds and points of view into one life. But fighting is far different than that. Thank you for writing such a wise post!

  13. Fighting over money has to be the greatest factor that wedded partners fight about. Relationship is dependent on commitment and trust form both spouses.

  14. So funny you write this, I realize I’m a month and half late on this. But I’m doing a marriage series over on my blog and this topic was the first thing I chose to write about:

    I agree about the physical part, but I think if both people go into marriage as this is not a short term thing and we have to figure it out, and not the mentality “OH I can just get divorced” things might be a little better in America. Most people just don’t want to work at it, if it doesn’t come easy then let’s just move on. I say that Love is a choice, you need to wake up every morning and chose to love your spouse. Some days are more difficult then others, but always remember why you got married in the first place! Good post.

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