Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Good Fights

     I read a column awhile ago about a marriage based on mutual respect and love, wonderful in every way, where the advice columnist's only advice was: “Once in awhile, have a really good fight so you don't get bored with each other.”
      I wondered about that. Is it really necessary for a happy couple to have occasional fights to keep things alive?
      Not that that ever applied to our marriage. Such peaceful nonaggressiveness between Deanne and me has never been enduring (perhaps occasional stretches of a couple months or so at most), so we have had fights aplenty. Most have been quite minor over day-to-day matters and preferences: helping out with the kids and chores, and scoldings/arguments over errors, misunderstandings, relationships with relatives, moodiness, attitudes, tones, and so forth. So there's little threat that we'll ever get bored of each other due to lack of fights.
      But I do see the benefit and necessity (at least for us) of fighting the good fight—the fight to improve things, not to tear down; the fight for what's good and right; the fight for hope and a future, not despair and surrender to the world's selfish, messed up ways; in short, the fight to preserve peace and wholesomeness in our lives and encourage growth in God as individuals, a couple, and a family. It's not automatic to do such things, as people have moods and frailties, so Godly success comes and goes. We must thus catch ourselves. Sometimes she or I needs to remind the other where we both belong and truly want to be. But pride or laziness or worldliness sometimes puts up a bad fight that makes the true good fight necessary, for if these things aren't worth fighting for, what are?
      Though I feel our marriage has been heavenly blessed, I also have had the dread feeling—too often to recall—of being on the edge, when things could have gone either way, depending. There's no blame involved, but we all have our limits and sometimes when it feels like she or I is at that limit and no motion for the better is forthcoming, that there's little option left. That's when I've prayed like crazy. And talked. And fought the good fight as necessary. (It has gone as often or more the other way, too, where Deanne was the one that led by example, mostly by submitting to Godly authority—mine—when she'd felt certain I'd been following God's lead.) Such times were soooo scary because I could foresee the bleak, dark future on the other side, a place I never wanted to go, especially since our marriage, when working well, is wonderful (I hope as much for Deanne as it is for me). And God has always come through, not once failing to provide for our needs in such dire circumstances. Praise God almighty for his faithfulness!
      As for fights with the kids, I don't tolerate it. If they wish to disagree with civility, I'm happy to listen, but no shouting back. Braden, now age fifteen, on occasion (usually before or after big trips away from home) sometimes loses control and challenges with angry cynical shouts. But it's not a true fight because by then he just defies to make a show of independence, which is unacceptable since it's at our expense, so as long as he keeps it up, he suffers consequences: chores, groundings, time-outs in the carport, and walks up and down the street. It's his choice: say “Yes, Dad (or Mom)” and go in peace, or shout back and get consequences leveled upon him for as long as he continues.
     When I was Braden's age, my mom tolerated my angry, vehement shouting at her and for awhile encouraged it by shouting back at me without leveling consequences. Partly as a result, I never learned to fully control my temper, which has hurt me numerous ways throughout my life. I don't want that to happen to Braden or any of our kids, so that's why I insist that they not vent their tempers on us, the authority figures. (By the way, my temper is mine to control and it's not my mom's fault that I still haven't mastered it, but it reminds me of a story I heard of Swede Bjorn Borg, the tennis great from the 1970s who was the picture of cool, calm composure for anyone of any sport or profession. As a youth, he once lost his temper during a tennis match. His dad took away his racket for awhile and Bjorn never lost his temper on court again. Fine dad. Fine results. Is it naive for me to hope for comparable?) 

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