what a good fight looks like

Posted: May 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

G and I recently disagreed about how we were going to do something at our house.  What that was isn’t the point of today’s discussion, so we’ll just leave it out of the equation, since it would be a distraction from the point (cuz in the end, don’t we all need to have opinions?!)  Suffice it to say:  he wanted it one way, and I disagreed, by a lot.

When I did premarital sessions with the couple for whose wedding I officiated last year, I told them something I believe with all my heart and try to practice with intention every day:  once you’re married, you’re not on your own side, and you’re not even on the side of the other person – you’re on the side of the marriage.  You are on a team together, in support of the marriage.  It’s a living, holy, mysterious thing – treat it as such.  Approach disagreement from the perspective of fighting first for the marriage, and if you’ll both do that, the rest will work out.

This approach has worked for me – for us – for the marriage – on a deep level, to the measure I’d call “wildly successful.”

I got to practice this principal HARD, this time around.

The thing was, I realized he’d been gently proposing what he wanted for the entire 3 years of our marriage, and I had taken it as a joke, and he hadn’t lost patience with me.  In 3 years.

The thing was, when I – finally! – realized he wasn’t joking, it was kind of a terrible moment.  It meant I had to stop and consider from his perspective.  It meant I couldn’t just keep deciding to have it my way.

The thing was, what he wanted, he wanted badly enough to press the point a bit.  Basically, I get whatever I want, whenever I want it, because giving me what I want is generally his heart’s desire.  This time, once I understood that there was something HE wanted – well, I’d be a jerk to not at least consider taking my turn at being the giver instead of the taker.

The thing was, I REALLY didn’t want it to go the way he wanted.  Not because he wanted it, but because it wasn’t my way.  I kind of detested it.

So it was time for me to make a decision.  Was I going to fight for “my rights” – a thing I damned well know it’s not my calling to do – or was I going to fight for the relationship?  Was I going to insist on seeing things my way, or was I going to push back at my selfish self and look, however reluctantly, through his eyes?

What would be nice in these cases is if the right thing were easy, or comfortable, or felt good.  None of this was the case.  I realized that if I held the line on having my way on this one, I’d be measuring him as somehow less important than me.  Nope.  So I resolved to go with what he wanted.

Emotions are stubborn little suckers.  Though I had worked it out through reason and made a decision, my emotions still had their little party.  I was angry.  Just.  So.  ANGRY.  I lost most of one night of sleep over it and part of another.  Resentment bubbled and broiled and made a terrible racket inside of me.  I warned G:  “My control issues have kicked in and are making noise.  I’m working out some hard emotions.  I know from experience they will shut up if I don’t respond to them.  I don’t know how long it will take for that to happen.  Hang in there, okay?”  And then I made the moment-by-moment choice to not be a jerk.  To feel angry and not act like and ass.  To hear the resentments having their party and not agree with them.

It was an ugly inside fight.  My resentments attempted to collect up several points of evidence to argue in my head that G just really didn’t care as much about me as he once did – that the honeymoon was finally over.  Oh bullshit, I told them…but I had to tell them over and over, all the while feeling like truer words were never spoken.  Sometimes in life you get to decide to believe truth instead of what feels true.  If you fight for it, a win comes – but generally it’s a bloody, messy, awful fight.  I fought.

That first hard night, after sitting up for a few hours in the dark trying to quiet the argument in my head, I put on my headphones and tuned into the Kansas City House of Prayer, letting the worship lull me away into rest.  The second hard night, I didn’t bother sitting up first – I just got the headphones at 6:20 as we headed to bed (extra early, since I was worn out from the battle of the night before), and chose:  I will worship, not meditate on “my side” of the discussion.  Sleep came.

The next day, the noise was quieter inside of me.  And then the morning after that, I woke up free.  Not angry, not resentful.  All the silly allegations about the decline of our relationship were dead and gone.  Back to peace.  G had been asking daily how he could help me fight through, and I had just asked him to keep being G.  I was glad to let him know:  the battle is over.  It is well.

The issue is resolved, and I’m actually glad to let this one go G’s way.  I’m not on my side.  I’m not on his side.  I’m on the side of the relationship, and it was worth fighting my own selfish self on behalf of that.

Just another thing I love about being 50, and about having walked through every single difficult thing and “growth exercise” God has chosen for me (or I have chosen for myself, by first choosing badly)…

I know what a good fight looks like.

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