Marriage,  Uncategorized

We Kissed Fighting Goodbye

We kissed fighting goodbye.

Living near the Oregon Coast, sooner or later you’re going to see it – two seagulls fighting over a dead fish.

It’s a lot of squawking, biting, flapping, snapping, and tugging. But as soon as you get near, they take wing and float peacefully on the breeze as if nothing happened. If you hadn’t seen it, you’d never guess that two seconds earlier they were trying to peck out each other’s eyes.

It’s a scene too common in Christian marriage.

It reminds me of the old couple my friend and I rented a flat from while in college. She dazzled everyone with her singing voice and extensive women’s ministry, and he wowed us all with his accomplishments. What a marriage! Founders of a prominent conservative Christian institution, they were the picture of the godly, Christian couple . . . at least until the guests left. From that point on, night after night, it was all daggers, claws, and fangs.

Some couples deserve an Academy Award for the quality of their public performance, but God is not impressed with our ability to fool people. Who we are when no one is looking is who we really are. And in the end, we are only fooling ourselves because God is always looking . . . and listening.

Is love spoken in your home, behind closed doors? Or are you more like those seagulls, fighting over something that has begun to stink, turning to smiles only when the doorbell rings?

Are dead fish really worth fighting over? Marriage can be filled with an undercurrent of continual tension and conflict over many unimportant things –  or it can be completely absent of this life-draining sin. Yes, sin – that’s what a spirit and practice of strife really is.

Arguing isn’t something that happens to us. It’s what we choose to do.

I never have the right to blame Lisa for my sinful attitude and ungodly response to her, regardless of what she has done. I’m a Christ follower. I am called to walk as Jesus walked.

Sometimes we act as if modeling Christ is about wearing a cross with stylish clothes. Jesus knew what godliness would really take: crucifixion. That’s why He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” Luke 9:23.

Jesus died for and paid the penalty of our sins (God’s wrath) once and for all, but our unregenerate flesh needs to be crucified, daily, as Jesus put it Paul described it like this, “I discipline my body (fleshly impulses to sin) and make it my slave.” 1 Cor 9:27.

Arguing in marriage happens because two people (yes, two . . . it’s not just your spouse) will not take up their cross daily, as Jesus required of His followers.

If you truly desire to honor your Lord in this matter of arguing – if you truly desire to change the way you communicate – if you truly want to stop arguing with your spouse, it’s not really all that complicated: Don’t argue.  Ask God to deal with you in this area – to replace your flesh with the response of His Spirit. When your spouse says something and you feel that growing urge to answer sharply with a biting or sarcastic reply, remember, God has given you His Spirit and the power to respond in grace. It’s your choice.

Only you can “take up your cross” and hang your argumentative flesh there, every day.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” What’s preferable – arguing for your “rights”, for your opinion, for your perspective – for your “dead fish” – or choosing peace and asking God to reveal His Truth to you both?

Do you desire to receive the blessing of God in your marriage? Don’t argue. Be a peacemaker.

The practice of sin takes away the sense of the sin, and that is why we get comfortable with destructive behavior in our marriage. Don’t get comfortable with it. Don’t allow the sinful spirit of strife to be the acceptable norm – for your part of the marriage, at least. After all, it’s the only part you can control, so take up your cross every day. It’s where your flesh belongs.

~ Matthew


*Check out Matthew and Lisa’s new ebooks 100 Ways To Love Your Wife and 100 Ways to Love Your Husband


  • Catherine

    This is an awesome read, i especially like the part ‘ I never have the right to blame Lisa for my sinful attitude and ungodly response to her, regardless of what she has done. I’m a Christ follower. I am called to walk as Jesus walked ‘
    It just reminds me, that indeed i do not have that right

  • Nancy

    I pray daily for God to put a guard over my tongue. It is so hard sometimes!! Thanks for a beautiful reminder.

  • Lori Alexander

    My very best friend for 38 years has never once argued with her husband. When he speaks, she looks directly into his eyes and listens. He adores her and they have so much fun together. She never demands her way and honors and respects him. She is such an amazing example to me!

  • Rhonda

    Man did I need that today. But I am just not sure how much longer I can fight this battle. Have fought it way to long. I am tired. I have fought so long that I just really don’t see anything worth fighting for anymore.

    • Matthew Jacobson

      Some have a more challenging pilgrimage than others. God has promised to be there, with you, in the midst of your deepest valley. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So, He is there with you, right now. Ask Him to fight for you. You don’t have to fight. “Come unto to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That’s God’s offer to you.

      And, what a great word of encouragement from your sister, Emily Ireland. I hope you can receive the grace of God contained in her message.

  • Justin Joseph

    This speaks volumes to me, especially after a very silly argument my wife and I got into this past Friday. It also carried over a bit into Saturday. I do struggle to want to defend myself, or protect what I think are my rights. I need to do a much better job of acting upon the grace that is so freely available to me in this area.

    • Matthew Jacobson

      Well, Justin, I think every husband can identify with you . . . about yielding to the temptation to have a “silly argument” You definitely don’t have a corner on that market! Praise God His mercies are new every morning and He gives grace for every day. God’s blessings on your journey.

  • Emily Ireland

    Don’t stop Rhonda. It IS hard. Very very hard. Especially when we try, only to be confronted with relentless arguments anyway from our spouses. But God didn’t promise us smooth sailing, or trails for only a short bit, he said we would have tribulations. But you can do it, well you can’t, but He can. Through His stregth. He’s doing something, you may not see or feel it, but He’s a good God, who loves you more in a moment than anyone could in a lifetime. Do what you do for Him for His glory, not yours or your spouse. It changes your perspective, which is often what we need. God bless you. Praying for you. 🙂

  • Elissa P

    Thank you Mr. Matthew for this soul searching post. I don’t know if we as women understanding how powerful our voices are in our homes and how it builds up or tears down the very foundation of the home.
    The Bible makes it clear that “a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh [him] ashamed is as rottenness in his bones “Proverbs 12:4. That is powerful. God knows that men need love, understanding and support and so He make us to do just that.

    Peace to one and all.

  • Kelly MacDougall

    Thanks, Matthew, for a refreshing read pertinent to both husbands and wives. How easily we get entangled in sin, feeling justified in arguing… The enemy loves to attack our marriages, but with Christ we CAN overcome these attacks.
    Emily Ireland: great encouragement for Rhonda, and for all of us!

    • Matthew Jacobson

      You’re welcome, Kelly. Yes, with Christ, we can . . . as we are told in Scripture: You (we) are more than overcomers! Romans 8:37 . . . which is talking about a slightly different issue than this article covers but, the principle is still the same . . . we have been given what we need to overcome sin. Thanks for sharing.

  • beke

    Thank you for this post. My husband and I have both made it a point to not argue. We both grew up in contentious homes. We knew we didn’t want that. I know that there are certainly moments we both feel the urge to “make our point”, often I ask myself is the point worth it. It rarely is.
    It is refreshing to see a post like this.
    Thank you for blessing us with God’s Word for our lives.

  • Anna Topal

    This can and should be applied to all the relationships in my life. Oh how desperately I need to be a peacemaker instead of a defender of my “right-ness”! This was a huge refresher. Thanks so much for reminding us of this core principle Matthew.

  • Susan

    This is such a great article that I really needed today! My hubby and I are both very obstinate in communication sometimes and it can be such a challenge. I echo so many of the other spouses that also replied and I pray for god to work in my marriage every day and to soften our hearts to eahother.

  • Keith P. Trautner

    Dear Matthew, i just wanted to say that my wife sent me this article and it was very convicting. Especially the part about getting comfortable with the destructive way we speak to each other. It seems like thats what has been happening alot in our marriage lately. I love my wife dearly. She is my precious gem. I always feel regret after i say unkind things to her. I hope God hears my pray for help in our marriage because some things i cant do with my own strength. Please pray for my wife, Becki and I. Good article. Very good.

  • Lacey

    I struggled with constant arguing with my husband about two years ago. It was always me starting them too. I finally allowed God to change me by immersing myself in His Word. All I can say now is, WOW! My marriage has totally transformed into a sweet and peaceful one. I realized I was looking to my husband for that unconditional love and comfort. It was unfair and a completely impossible burden for him to bare. I see now that I have to be satisfied with Jesus and the unconditional love that HE has for me. I now know that although sometimes I lose my “right” to be heard I never have to lose my right of sonship. 🙂