Every Healthy Couple Should Learn to Fight

by Focus on the Family Malaysia

The sexes are designed with highly specific–but quite different– psychological needs. Each is vulnerable to the other in unique ways.

When reduced to the basics, women need men to be romantic, caring, and loving. Men need women to be respectful, supportive, and loyal. These are not primarily cultural influences that are learned in childhood, as some would have us believe. They are forces deeply rooted in the human personality.

Unfortunately, millions of marriages are in trouble today because of an inability of the sexes to get along. Perhaps the fundamental problem is one of selfishness. We are so intent on satisfying our own desires that we fail to recognise the longings of our spouse. The institution of marriage works best when we think less about ourselves and more about the ones we love. Again, the basic needs of each gender are straightforward. Women need to be loved, all year round, and men need to be respected, especially when the going gets tough.

That understanding is hardly new. In fact, it is ancient. Love and respect. It’s an unbeatable combination.

Question: What do you mean by “every healthy couple should learn to fight?”

Answer: People need to learn how to fight fair, because there is a big difference between healthy and unhealthy combat in marriage.

In an unstable marriage, hostility is aimed at the spouse’s soft underbelly with comments like “You never do anything right!” and “Why did I marry you in the first place?” and “You’re getting more like your mother every day!” These offensive remarks strike at the very heart of your spouse’s self-worth.

Healthy conflict, by contrast, is focused on the issues that cause disagreement. For example: “It upsets me when you don’t tell me you’re going to be late for dinner.” Or “I was embarrassed when you made me look foolish at the party last night.”

Can you hear the difference in these two approaches? The first assaults the dignity of the spouse while the second is addressed to the source of conflict. When couples learn this important distinction, they can work through their disagreements without wounding and insulting each other.

In case you missed it, check out our global online event, The Perfect 10 Marriage! Watch Dr Greg and Erin Smalley and 5 other couples from around the world as they share 5 important areas in marriage.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.


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