Solomon, a wise man, penned these words.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1 NASB
I wish I had a screen that dropped in front of me at the start of any discussion or disagreement to remind me. Maybe the screen could flash if the energy in my voice exceeds a safe threshold.
Given his history of collecting women (700 wives and 300 concubines according to I Kings 11:3), I am certain Solomon knew whereof he wrote. Solomon was a man, and I’ll wager at least one of his ladies was upset with him at any given moment. Possibly more than one.
Men, no matter how diplomatic or congenial we may be, there will be those times in the relationship where it seems World War III has begun. We can join the fight, perhaps win a battle, but still lose the war. We need to develop a strategy to deescalate conflict.
Like Solomon, Grandpa Miller was a wise man who taught me the value of a pouting house. His was the shed where he carved hickory handles for his tools, and that space was his haven when Grandma was mad at him. The last memory I have of his sanctuary, Grandpa had lawn chairs, a wood stove, and a coffee pot in there. He was prepared to weather the storm in comfort. He knew that space is often the best solution.
In the heat of conflict, take a moment to breathe and relax. Consider your response before you launch it. Ben Franklin urged us to measure twice and saw once, smart advice in carpentry and skirmishes with the one we love.
Count your blessings
Yes, I know you are seething with anger and women are impossible to live with, but do you love her? What kind of day would tomorrow be if you woke up without her? Is there a special sweetness she brings to your life, ingredients you would sorely miss?
Forget the present strife for a moment. Make a list of the things you love about her, the ways she makes you smile, and the memories you wouldn’t trade for anything. She’s a keeper, right?
Feel the anger dropping away?
I’ve enjoyed Shawn’s company for 33+ years. That’s 12,045 days. Or 289,080 hours. Or even 17,344,800 minutes. Two people, bumping elbows in close quarters over that elapsed time, are bound to produce some friction. Added up, those heated moments are such small parts of the total they hardly seem significant. A fight today, even a red-faced screaming match, does not negate all that investment we’ve made.
Filter out the rough places, men. Look forward. Take a stance that your relationship is for the long haul, and act accordingly.
Consider the root cause
Usually the cause of our blow-ups is not something one of us did to the other. External influences creep in and disturb the wedded bliss. Shawn says something innocuous, and I hear a different message with an imagined sinister inflection. Perhaps I’m hungry, stressed, or need a nap. The ensuing argument has nothing to do with her.
What are you really upset about? Was your boss a jerk? Did the guy in the gold-plated SUV cut you off? As you continue the analysis, ask “What kind of day did my wife have?”
Who wants to fight? Not me. I need a hug…and a donut.
Attend the peace negotiations with the proper posture
- Be gentle.
- Invite her (politely) to sit beside you.
- If she’s cooled enough, put your arm around her.
- Tell her you love her, and mean it.
- Ask her what’s on her heart, and listen.
- Apologize even if the cause is 1% yours and 99% hers.
- Express to her how rotten life would be without her, and tell her you hate to fight.
Kiss and make up
Pity the man needing advice here. Ain’t love grand?
One parting thought, men.
The difference between marital and martial is where we put the “I”.