How to Fight Well With Your Spouse

by |


hat if I were to tell you that arguing with your spouse is a good thing? Would you think I was crazy? I’m sure a lot of you would say, “YES!”

Believe it or not, arguments, when handled well, can actually enrich relationships. Working through disagreements in a respectful way fights for your marriage rather than your own personal gain. Fighting with honor and respect builds trust.

Conflict in marriage is inevitable. We are different human beings with different thought processes and different communication styles. Let me say that again: Conflict is inevitable. Every marriage has conflict. Those couples that handle it well grow closer to each other. We have to acknowledge this and be proactive about dealing with it.

But what about calling everyone to live at peace?

The bible does call us to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18), but that doesn’t mean we shy away from conflict or anger. There were plenty of times in the bible when Jesus had a conflict with others and felt anger (like when He made a whip out of cords and drove the moneychangers out of the temple in). but Jesus always handled conflict with righteousness. True biblical peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of righteousness. To live at peace with our spouse means leaning into the conflict and uncomfortable conversations to come to a greater understanding of one another. Peace comes from fighting WELL with our spouses.

“True biblical peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of righteousness.”

Share Tweet

But how do we do that?

  1. Seek to listen and understand, rather than to speak and be heard
  2. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Put your need to prove yourself right aside and focus on your spouse’s thoughts and feelings. This can be difficult, but remember that you are both on the same side. Our need to be right should never trump seeking to understand our spouse.

  3. Be Respectful
  4. Be aware of your tone of voice and body language. We can so easily speak volumes of disrespect, without a word, through our tone and rolling of our eyes, cracking of our knuckles, clenching of our jaw, etc. Now, hear me, I am not great at this one and am a work in progress here.

    Keep your voice calm and watch your words. Raising your voice, saying hurtful things, or cursing in the midst of a fight will only bring more anger and tension. These things have a way of creating more distance and making a fight last longer. These add fuel to the fire. Rather than being able to focus on the main issue, our attention is brought to HOW the argument isn’t being handled well. So, not only do you have to deal with the actual issue, you’re going to have to deal with the pile of hurt added. By being respectful, it’s a lot easier to keep focused on the original issue and this helps us to resolve the conflict much more quickly without the distraction of added hurt.

  5. Don’t run away
  6. Even though a conversation might be uncomfortable, allow yourself to sit in that uncomfortable place. Choose to work through the conflict. Choose to voice your feelings and hear where your spouse is.

    Avoiding will solve nothing, and builds resentment. Resentment can destroy a marriage. Resist the urge to ignore the conflict, and by doing so, avoid building resentment.

  7. Admit where you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness
  8. This is probably THE MOST important step on this list. Constantly check in with yourself and admit where you’ve been wrong. Rather than just saying “I’m sorry”, ask for forgiveness as well. Asking for forgiveness acknowledges the hurt you caused your partner and provides deeper healing. “I’m sorry” is quick and flippant or meaningless, whereas “Will you forgive me?” takes away any semblance of pride and acknowledges understanding of the hurt caused. Asking for forgiveness says “I love you more than my pride”. It also has an incredible way of disarming anger.

    It’s important to note that when asked for forgiveness, the answer should be “yes” (Matthew 18:21-22). We need to get our hearts in the right place to forgive.

  9. Don’t assume you’re right
  10. Dress yourself with humility (1 Peter 5:5). You may not be right and you may have a misunderstanding of the situation. Be willing to see another perspective and shift your thought process.

  11. Shift your perspective
  12. Your spouse is NOT your enemy, they are your teammate. You should try to never fight against your spouse. Shift your perspective and choose to fight as a team against the problem. While you may not see eye to eye on something, you are still seeking to find a solution that you are both ok with. Resolving the problem should be your sole focus.

  13. Seek the context
  14. There have been quite a few times that Adam and I have gotten into a fight where we were taking out the stress from another situation on one another. This isn’t always the case–there are times when we have legitimate reasons for being frustrated with one another. However, if we are aware of our own stress and where our spouse may be stressed, we can more easily avoid conflict. Adam and I will sometimes say to each other “Hey, your reaction here didn’t seem to match the offense–is something else going on?” Now, we need to say this with gentleness, but it helps our spouse to check in with themselves to see if there is other stress or hurt contributing to their feelings.

  15. Focus on feelings
  16. Rather than blaming your spouse for a particular event, talk about your feelings surrounding the event. Try “I feel _______ when you ______” or “I feel _______ when _______ happened”. When we focus on our feelings, we share our hearts. Feelings are much easier to work with than blame.

  17. Validate emotions
  18. Validate your spouse’s emotions by letting them know that you understand what they are feeling. Most of the time, we all just want to feel truly understood. We want to feel like our spouse understands where we are hurting and is responding with gentleness and care.

  19. Stop and pray
  20. If you find that you are struggling to work through an argument, stop and pray that God would bring clarity to the situation. Pray that you would be able to communicate in a way that would honor one another. Pray that you would be able to truly understand where your spouse is coming from.

  21. Don’t give up
  22. If you feel unresolved about a conflict, keep working at it. If you give up or think that it isn’t worth it to continue, those unresolved feelings will come back, and they will come back stronger. Don’t allow unresolved conflict to become a wedge between you and your spouse. If you have worked on a conflict for a few days with no resolve, it might be time to see a counselor. We all get stuck sometimes, there is no shame in asking for help. Choosing to go see a counselor is simply choosing your spouse over pride.

    Agree that either one of you can set up an appointment with a counselor, for any reason, and the other one will show up every time.

Ultimately if you fight matters much less that how you fight.

Remember that this is a learning process. You won’t get it right all the time. Nobody does. Sometimes, we just mess it up. That’s okay. Have grace for your spouse and have grace for yourself. You’re committed to each other “til death do you part”, so there is plenty of time to learn and grow! As we handle disagreements with each other with love and respect, we create the deep levels of trust and security that are necessary for a strong marriage.

“As we handle disagreements with each other with love and respect, we create the deep levels of trust and security that are necessary for a strong marriage.”

Share Tweet

What other tips do you have for fighting well with your spouse? Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

Want to dig deeper?

Check out Radiant Marriage Academy, our free 16-lesson course!


(Fully free. No catch.)

adam & Jess

Hi, we’re Adam & Jess--we’re so glad you’re here!

Our marriage got off to a rocky start in 2014 and quickly escalated into a full-out crisis. God healed us, and now we're inviting you to walk with us as we all journey toward healthier marriages together!

7 Days to an Awesome Marriage

Check out our free eBook and connect with your spouse!

7 Days to a More Intimate Marriage

Follow Us

Treasuring the Tiny Moments

The goal for the day was simple...Get food for dinner and prepare a delicious meal for our friends who were coming over (while still social distancing). I had gone to the store and had everything that I needed...except for the fish. I was planning on making fish with...

Choosing Your Spouse Over Your Checklist

We published an image of a quote on our social media not too long ago, and it struck me in just how profound it is. The quote, by D.L. Moody, is this: “If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his...

How to Love Your Spouse Through Their Rough Day

There I was in my car in the garage processing through the events of my day. You know those days where everything just seems to go wrong? This was that day. From dropping a smoothie onto the floor in the morning to having a rough interaction with a friend to work...

7 Game-Changer Questions to Fight Disconnection in Your Marriage

Have you ever gotten to a place in your marriage where you felt completely disconnected from your spouse...and didn't have a clue how you got there? In these times, it can be so easy to ignore the problem and become apathetic. In the moment, ignoring things seems like...

10 At-Home Activities to Do as a Couple

Let’s be honest. The past few weeks have been a bit insane. Have you been going a bit stir crazy? Have you craved being with your friends or family? Do you miss hugs? Are you finding yourself losing track of days and time? Us too. In the midst of being under “shelter...

4 Ways to Take Charge of Anxiety

Army. Green. Couch. Can you picture it? Now hold onto that image and I’ll come back to it. If you have read my posts for any length of time, you know that I struggle with anxiety. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized how much I can fixate on things…...

Faith in the Midst of Uncertainty

I t was dinner time when we found out that Washington had issued a “shelter in place” mandate. While we live in Idaho, Adam works in Washington. And Washington was the first of the two to issue the mandate. Like many of you who have these state rules right now, we...

7 Ways to Grow Your Marriage During COVID

This last week has been insane. I feel like I woke up on Friday last week and the world had started to end. Grocery stores were being emptied, in-person church services had been canceled, schools were closed, and my graduate program was put on hold...and I couldn’t...

Abandoned, Alone, and Afraid

Abandoned, alone, and afraid. These three words have been the theme of my feelings over the last month or so. We're in this weird stage of life where so much about our current situation feels unsettled and nothing is secure. Our finances, not having a home base, our...

Building Momentum in Your Marriage

Having a great marriage isn’t based on one moment, one action, or one success, but rather a pattern of right actions (and corrected wrong actions) over time. This may seem obvious--doing the right thing is commonly best practice--but the effects are less obvious. It’s...

Want to build an awesome marriage?

Get started with Radiant Marriage Academy, a 16-lesson online course to help you build an awesome marriage.

The best part? Thanks to our patrons, it's completely FREE. No credit card. No upsell. No catch. Just great, free marriage tools to help you make your marriage awesome.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest