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Fight together for your marriage
2 of an interview with Deb and Ron DeArmond,
of Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and
marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for
resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you
work together to find peace?
In Don’t Go to Bed Angry(Abingdon
Press), Deb and Ron DeArmond give readers permission to fight. Fight it
out. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with
the conflict. Combining a healthy dose of personal experience with
relationship-affirming biblical wisdom, Deb and Ron demonstrate how
communication through conflict can lead to greater insight and understanding of
thoughts, feelings, and perspectives that can safeguard—and even strengthen—your
relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets, discussion
questions, callouts, and prayers make this a definitive go-to resource to help
you start fighting—together—for your marriage.
Q: The book says a conflict can be a positive
element in your marriage. Please tell us more about that.
understand when we say conflict can be positive, we are not saying that
fighting and quarreling without restraint or respect is what we had in mind.
But when we hear a couple say, “We never have conflict,” we are doubtful. It’s
hard to believe that two individuals always share identical opinions,
preferences or approaches. Just because it’s quiet in the house doesn’t mean
there’s peace or agreement. Sometimes the couple no longer has the interest or
energy to engage in the conversation. One may be the “more expressive” and the
other feels bullied. Sometimes one or both just resign themselves to “it’s just
not worth the effort,” so they choose silence and go along to get along. But avoidance
is not the path to peace.
doesn’t have to be ugly. It can bring issues to the table that, once resolved,
brings us closer together where agreement is genuine, not lip service. Ignoring
issues is easier — it’s not better. The Word says, “How can two walk together
unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Marriage without a path together is not
what God intended. But we see couples sharing the same home yet living separate
lives. There’s so much more available to those willing to fight — together — to
Q: You suggest that conflict leads to discovery or
to damage. How does it lead to discovery? How can it become damaging?
typically a result of one issue and two different perspectives. If we can each
set aside our own preference in the moment and seek to understand the other’s
thoughts, ideas and opinions, we can discover solutions that would not have
been possible on our own. Often we are not aware of the possibilities until we
listen to one another. Listening is not easy. Our favorite definition of
listening is “the willingness to be changed by what you hear.”
to do when you are so entrenched in your own opinion that you dismiss the
potential “best option” by closing your ears, your mind and your heart to your
spouse. Close your heart often enough and the relationship will suffer,
sometimes so sufficiently that the damage cannot be undone.
Q: Tell us a little bit about what the boundaries
of dealing with conflict appropriately might be or include?
safety for both parties physically, emotionally and mentally. We established
“rules” to ensure that discovery, not damage is our outcome.
of our rules include the allowance that either party can call a “time out” if
they feel too emotional to deal with it in the moment. The question then
becomes, “When can we come back to discuss it?” and a time is established.
example is that no one is allowed to get in the car and drive off! It’s not a
safe practice for us or anyone else on the road we may encounter.
anything physical is off the table. We suggest couples establish the rules
together, using the scriptures as their baseline, and we offer some suggestions
and guidelines for that process.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about how the book is
six categories or themes to explore: Burdens, Baggage, Bridges, Barriers,
Boundaries and Blessings. Each one reveals a facet of conflict that brings us
closer to solutions. Don’t Go to Bed
Angry is not a book of shoulds; it’s filled with practical ideas,
conversation starters, and opportunities for self-discovery in every chapter.
(Deb’s) 30-year career in helping adults develop the skills to communicate effectively
and resolve conflict is very present throughout the book. It’s not helpful to
know you should if you don’t know how. Ron’s experience in men’s ministry
for nearly as many years allows us to cover the range of opportunities couples
because we are not therapists, our real-life experiences in a successful
40-year, faith-filled marriage are our final credentials. Without the
scriptures as our textbook and God’s spirit to guide us, we’d have messed it up
Q: Baggage sounds like an interesting topic. How
does it relate to conflict?
Baggage is the
“stuff” we bring to the relationship. It’s a composite of our experiences at
home, school and work. Our family, friends and everyone who had any influence
in our life contributes to how we deal with conflict.
of our experience may be valuable; it provides insight on successful methods as
well as approaches to avoid. But often it may teach us that conflict must be
avoided at all costs. Sometimes our example is that “he who is loudest, wins.”
And we may misunderstand the signature scripture, “Don’t let the sun go down on
your wrath.” We examine that carefully in the book.
line: Baggage can weigh us down, dragging the energy and life out of our
marriage. Sometimes it’s better left by the side of the road. We help couples
learn to do that.