"I can’t believe you are being so ridiculous! I’m not being irrational at all! Ugh! I’m leaving! I just need some peace and quiet!"
I slammed the door, stormed out to my black V.W. Jetta, got in, and drove. Sure, it was two in the morning. Sure, I had no idea where I was going. But he was driving me crazy and I needed to leave. I couldn’t believe he was being so stubborn. I couldn’t believe we were in such a huge fight over a couch.
Being newly married and having no furniture to start out with, our couch had been given to us. It was a nice gesture from the givers, but the thing weighed about 5,000 lbs. It was hideous, it was heavy, and it was far from comfortable. We had recently received a check in the mail from a guest who wasn’t able to make the wedding and I wanted to buy a new couch. Justin wanted to save the money.
As I drove aimlessly around, getting angrier with each passing minute that he wasn’t calling me to make sure I was alright, I began to wonder how we got to this point.
We’d been married just four months earlier and had been fighting like cats and dogs for the past week. We argued about ridiculous things, like me getting upset about Justin tramping his dirty shoes all over our shoebox apartment, or Justin getting mad about the way I hung his shirt on a hanger. All these little arguments added up to this big blowout.
There was no doubt that both Justin and I were a bit stressed. We were both still in school full time, both working, and just learning to live together as husband and wife. While we didn’t have a lot of extra money after all our bills were paid, I thought that a nice, comfortable couch was worthwhile purchase.
I angrily drove to a 24-hour grocery store and walked through the aisles looking for something to jump out and say, "Buy me!" I ended up in the magazine section, and as I glanced over the gamut of magazines my eyes stopped on the headline: "How to get your man to agree with you."
It looked interesting. I plucked it off the rack, paid for my items, and left the store. Back in my car I flipped on the reading light and read the article. It ended with something like: "… if all else fails just fight until you get what you want. Anything worth having is worth fighting for."
Humph. This definitely didn’t help, but it did make me realize how incredibly ridiculous we both were being. We were fighting over a couch. I turned on the ignition, drove home, got into bed next to my sleeping husband, and slipped my hand into his.
The next morning we both were apologetic. Justin apologized for letting it escalate to the level it did. I told him I was sorry for being such a baby about the whole thing and that he was right. Even though I wanted to buy a couch, it would be wiser for us to save the money. Neither of us wanted to fight.
Through our couch war, I learned some valuable lessons about the importance of peace in marriage.
When it comes to my marriage, I used to be able to justify in my mind that I had the right to be angry. I used to attempt (and sometimes still do) to get Justin back by saying something that I knew would rub him the wrong way. I wanted to have the last word before I stomped out of the room and make him feel bad that he had wronged me. I would show him! But when I hold unto a grudge, which I have been known to do from time to time, I’m not looking for peace in the situation. Instead, I’m harboring resentment and anger toward the other person. This is sin.
Thankfully, God’s Word is such an amazing reminder of my sinful nature and my need for Him. In Leviticus 19:18, I’m told, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself," while Colossians 3:12-13 instructs:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
As I stormed out of our house the night of our couch fight, I was choosing to be angry, and instead of seeking peace for our marriage I was declaring war. A silly magazine article brought me back to reality, showing me that I wanted a couch more than I wanted peace with my husband.
But simply wanting peace isn’t enough. I also have to seek it out.
Seeking mutual harmony in marriage is work. I’ve learned this.
Justin and I are approaching our sixth wedding anniversary this July, and I have been known to get on Justin’s nerves from time to time. Oh alright, I nag. Yes, it’s true. I get all up in arms over stupid things—Do this! Don’t do that!—you know what I mean. I can be annoying. This, combined with the day-to-day pressures of life and the big decisions we’ve been faced with, has resulted in conflict; despite the time we spent in pre-marital counseling preparing for issues that were bound to come up as we became husband and wife.
An issue we faced early on—even before we had kids—was homeschooling. He just assumed we were going to homeschool our children, when I really hadn’t put that much thought into it. We got into a heated argument one night and in the end we agreed to put the decision on hold until we actually had kids. We now have two boys and soon our oldest will be ready for school. We have discussed the schooling issue again, and have decided to take it a year at a time to see what works best for our family.
Through our disagreement in areas such as homeschooling, we discovered that when an argument starts to get too escalated, we need to put it on hold. We take time to try to understand the other’s point-of-view, we pray and think about it, and then come back together and try to be more civil as we work the situation out. By no means does this always happen, but we try especially when it is a big issue such as our kids’ education.
It takes courage and practice to listen to each other, especially when our emotions are on fire. When I get going, I get on an insult roll and soon begin to make little sense, and sometimes I even forget what we were even fighting about. By then I have stomped off somewhere pouting and for the next few hours, or even on a few occasions days, we only speak to each other if it is absolutely necessary. I’m learning to step back and settle down, to really listen to what Justin is saying to me before I send back a fiery response. It’s hard work at times, but it’s much better than trying to live at war with one another.
I love 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, a passage of Scripture you’ve no doubt heard at a wedding. It was read at ours, and it is a beautiful one.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
What a wonderful reminder of how we should be love in our lives. When Paul wrote this letter to the Church of Corinth he wasn’t merely defining what love is but rather how we should be living! And when we live in this manner, we will naturally seek peace.
There have been times that Justin and I have been at odds about things more important than a new couch. In those moments, it’s so wonderful to have Christ and His word to help us both seek reconciliation and peace with one another as we trudge through this life together.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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