Every married couple faces times of disagreement, which sometimes turns into an argument. In our HomeBuilders class, we like to call these “intense fellowships.” You can’t avoid it. It happens. Sometimes, it can even be productive.
Unfortunately, a lot of couples get stuck asking the wrong question when they find themselves at odds with each other. And when the wrong question is asked, you find yourself on this cyclical mess with no solution in sight.
Then bitterness sets in. Our actions begin to reflect our unforgiving hearts and our marriages suffer because of it. By the way, if you have children, they know when things are not right between mom and dad. Mark it down, you just hurt them, too!
We’ve all heard it before, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Well, when it comes to conflict resolution in marriage, I must say that there is one very dumb question. This question is often the first thing that comes to our minds and we begin to zero in on it with laser accuracy.
You may be asking, “What’s the dumb question?”
Well, here it is.
Are you ready?
You may have asked it before and if so, knock it off!
The question that seems productive when resolving conflicts is…
Who’s fault is it?
Have you ever asked that question before in the middle of an argument? I know, Mr. Husband, you’re just trying to collect the facts. I know Mrs. Wife, you’re just trying to “talk it out.” But you know the general reaction we all have to that question.
We get defensive. We get sensitive. Our egos are hurt (yes, ladies, you have egos, too, the Bible calls it “pride”).
What do you mean, “Who’s fault is it? Well, it your fault, of course!” There’s no communication and no resolution. Offenses remain unconfessed, apologies are unsaid, and joy is sucked out of the home!
May I suggest a more productive question? The fact is this: it is someone’s fault, otherwise you wouldn’t be arguing. But the answer to that question is not as helpful as the answer to this more productive question:
What can I do to help or fix it?
Unless you’re keeping score in your marriage (which is a very bad idea), it really doesn’t matter to you who’s fault it is. What matters is that your spouse feels and knows you want to make things better. Asking this more productive question places you on that path.
One of my mentors used to say it this way, “Always take the position of a humble servant.” And you know what, he’s right!
A servant doesn’t ask, “Who’s fault is this?” A servant isn’t looking to assign blame. All he cares about is how to make things better by being a help.
My marriage and yours can be strengthened by having a servant’s heart. It definitely helps when it comes to conflict resolution because a servant isn’t concerned about who messed up and who didn’t; their heart is always to help.
So, are you in the middle of one of those “intense fellowships” with your spouse? Don’t stay there! Stop asking the wrong question, “who’s fault is it?” Rather ask a more productive question, “what can I do to help or fix it?”
The sooner you ask, the quicker you’ll get to that peaceful, lovely, and joyful marriage you had before the argument. And if you have kids, they’ll appreciate that!