Do you ever have a follow up conversation with your spouse after a disagreement or fight? A conversation about how things went? What you could have done differently and what went well? Earlier in the year we talked about how to Fight Right and when to have follow up conversations with your kids. But today we are going to talk about the importance of following up after a disagreement with your spouse.
Why do you do it?
The purpose of following up after a fight is not to redo the fight but to reestablish connection. Even if you “fight right” there may be some lingering feelings or questions. It is important to talk through those and make sure you have fully reconnected.
Another reason is to bring closure to the situation. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t have closure Satan has a heyday with my thoughts. He may go with the “what if” game, the “blame” game or the “shame” game. Whichever one wins, I relive the argument and ponder my different moves instead of forgiving and forgetting.
The last reason is to restate your covenant. When you got married you committed to stay together for better or for worse. Since we are all human, “for worse” is a real part of your marriage. Hopefully a small part. It is important that you circle back around and verbalize your commitment to each other no matter what you fight about or disagree on.
How do you do it?
Soon after an argument it is important that you verbalize that you want to follow up and make sure the other person is doing okay. Then work together to set a time that is good for both of you and allows you to talk through the situation. Think about the length of time that might be needed to check in. Sometimes a quick 10 minute conversation is all you need. Other times it might be necessary to wait until the kids are in bed so that you can have each other’s undivided attention.
Tip: If it is hard for you to find time because your kids stay up later than you, plan a lunch date out of the house.
No one wants to follow up a conversation with someone who is still mad or pointing fingers. If your goal is not to reconnect, you may need to wait a little bit before starting the follow up conversation. Spend some time with the Lord working through your thoughts and emotions before you talk it through with your spouse.
Invite God into the conversation. Ask Him to give you eyes to see the other person’s perspective and ears to hear their thoughts and feelings. Ask God to lead the conversation and for both of you to walk in God’s wisdom, empathy, grace and mercy.
Go into the conversation with the approach of learning more about your spouse. Try to find out why they reacted the way that they did. Figure out what they meant by the words that they said. Did you interpret their words correctly? If not, why? A posture of curiosity works so much better than a spirit of accusation.
Benefits of Follow-up
Both of you grow when you take the time to follow up. You both learn how to listen and empathize with the other person. You learn better ways to communicate and accomplish things. You also get to practice giving and receiving forgiveness, something all of us could do a little more. And most importantly, you grow towards each other instead of drifting apart. The more united you are as a couple, the more God can use you to advance His kingdom.
Seal the deal
In a contract you follow a verbal agreement with a handshake and signing the dotted line. In a covenant agreement you can take things a step farther. God created unity in marriage that is found in no other relationship. God intended a married couple to “seal the deal” with sex. Hugs and kisses are important and needed in a relationship but nothing can unite two people together like sex can. Don’t rob yourself of this uniting moment.
Arguments and disagreements are a normal part of life, and it is healthy to circle back after an argument to resolve questions and clarify understanding. However, it is not healthy to continue to dig up this argument again and again. Now that you have worked through these steps, it is time for a fresh start for both of you. Move forward, following God as our example: “He has removed our sins as far from us, as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) And “…I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Hebrews 8:12)
We hope this is a helpful reminder that arguments are normal, and follow up is often needed. It is reassuring for us to know that even if we fight, we are ok. We don’t have to be worried about our marriage. Instead, we can commit together that even our disagreements will end up making us stronger!
Have you had a fight recently? I know we have. Make it a point to follow up this week. Make sure you make it all the way through the steps 🙂