What I Learned from a Fight with My Husband

Toward the end of my month-long reorganizing, repairing, and purging that I was doing in my house in June, my husband and I had a fight. Mind you, it wasn’t related to the hard work that we were doing on the house.

Building Walls

But it was a doozy of a misunderstanding on both our parts. I won’t go into all the gory details, but suffice it to say, the intensity of it scared me.

After all, we are purporting to be marriage mentors here and elsewhere, so these kinds of meltdowns, in my opinion, should never happen! 😦

I mean, do marriage mentors and well-known authors/speakers on marriage topics like Les and Leslie Parrot, Bill and Pam Farrel, or Pete and Geri Scazzero actually ever have bad fights? 😉

Les and Leslie seem to have “love talk” down to a science. And Bill and Pam Farrel are busy enjoying “red-hot monogamy,” while Pete and Geri Scazzero are ever ready with the “Ladder of Integrity” to unravel any conflicts they might face.

Maybe you’re not familiar with these marriage giants, but I am! And I often feel unprepared, uneasy, and unworthy to lead out on the all-important topic of marriage. Now I’m not saying that in order to elicit sympathy, or worse, judgment but simply to let you see a peek inside my insecure heart and sometimes faltering marriage.

In the first post that I wrote in this series regarding how to develop a soft heart, I felt God wanted me to not just purge years of accumulated stuff from my house but also purge the pride lurking in my heart.

Well, this argument with my husband was a prime time for me to see just how prideful and, frankly, “unloving” I could be and was. I say “was” because I identified something I’d never truly owned until that conflict . . .

Whenever my husband and I would have an over-the-top argument, I made a habit of holding a bit of my heart in reserve. Sure, we would sort it out, apologize to one another, and vow to do better the next time. Which, by the way, we have been able to do, for the most part, thanks most of all to God! 🙂

But on certain occasions, I was not truly letting go. I was choosing to let these big fights become like another stone in a wall. Stones that have now accumulated into a barrier in my heart and against my husband.

[bctt tweet=”Because of that conflict, I realized that love keeps no record of wrongs. #conflict #forgive” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

[bctt tweet=”Love risks for the sake of the loved one and doesn’t withdraw out of self-protection. Take Love risks!” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

It was like my pride wanted to say, Gary needs to prove himself completely safe or worthy of my love in order for me to fully love him. And I am speaking from a personal responsibility perspective here, owning what is mine to own.

I’m also not advocating that emotional, physical or sexual abuse ever be tolerated when it is present.* Just to be clear about this argument in my marriage, my husband wasn’t being abusive. We both just lost our tempers and said things we now regret.

Ultimately, what I am trying to say is, love . . . “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” 1 Corinthians 13:7.

  • It doesn’t focus on self-protection. Instead, love seeks to protect my spouse’s heart—though ultimately God is the Protector of both our hearts. Yay, God!
  • Love doesn’t doubt or blame because, paradoxically, my husband will rise to the standard I set for him. If it is low and fraught with criticism, he will most likely try to fulfill the image that I project upon him. 
  • It doesn’t give up—thinking I deserve better! Instead, love realizes God’s best is hidden in the hardships of life and marriage. So I reach out to hold my Deliverer’s hand as I keep moving forward in faith, while I also reach out with my other hand to hold my husband’s.

Click the link if you’d like to read the previous posts in the Soft Heart in Marriage series. And come back next time for a fresh cup of Messy Marriage brew!


What have you learned from the problems or conflicts you’ve faced in your marriage?


What part of loving and forgiving your mate is the hardest for you?


I am traveling this Wednesday, so I may have more difficulty responding to comments or blog hopping. But will give it my best effort to visit those who comment here or linkup early. Thanks so much! And join me next week when I’ll be continuing the “Soft Heart” series with a post on the power of pulling away that includes a tool on reflection. I hope you’ll join me!

*I am in no way advocating for submission to emotional abuse in marriage. I’m talking about learning to accept the flaws and failures of a mate, as well as processing them with God, my mate and often with trusted confidantes. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek immediate confidential and experienced counsel on how you can safely deal with your abusive situation. 

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, NanahoodDanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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25 responses to “What I Learned from a Fight with My Husband”

  1. These words speak such truth to me… “Love risks for the sake of the loved one and doesn’t withdraw out of self-protection.” I can remember many times withdrawing and in fact it is most often my go to response. You are a wise marriage counselor and yes you can face difficulties in your marriage because you are human. Just think what you can share because of all of your experience. Thank you for this truth tonight.


    1. Thanks so much for your kind words to me, Mary. And yes, I am definitely human and falter! I do comfort myself with the fact that I need to understand what it feels like to falter, otherwise I’ll lose touch with the problems of those I want to minister to. I truly appreciate your encouragement, sweet friend!


  2. I withdraw a lot. I have found it is easier for me.


    1. Yes, I recall you saying things along that line in previous comments, Patrick. It often feels safer and easier as you’ve said, but I believe it’s only a short-lived solution. In time it has backfired on me in major ways. I end up having more trouble than I ever encounter when I deal with the problem soon after it occurs.


  3. Yes, Beth, I am SO a “withdrawer”… With God’s help, working on that slowly-but-surely. Thank you for sharing another valuable lesson-learned with us, friend. And thanks also for hosting 🙂 ❤


    1. Yes, it’s a slow process to be sure! I’ve been working on it most of my life. And before that, I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me and my relationships. It’s easy to feel like it is a safer way to manage life, but it really is an illusion of safety–much like walking on quicksand! Thanks for your kind words and support here, my friend!


  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    First, safe travels on Wednesday! I’ll wear my St. Christopher medal on your behalf.

    Second, great and honest post. A lot of wisdom that I thin came at a high price.

    I come to the issue a little differently these days, and see disagreements as more a matter of perspective/paradigm shift…and I am generally in the ‘wrong’.

    Not my fault to be ill, or to have followed the hard profession I did, but these imbue one with a certain way of looking at the world which makes the marriage partnership tough, to put it mildly. I am about as far from the ‘middle-American suburban male’ as you can get, and that’s the milieu in which my wife was raised, and which she loves.

    So, generally I will fade back a bit, and try to be a bit more plain-vanilla after the (fortunately rare) arguments, because the paradigm gap is one that I think cannot really be bridged. Someone just has to supply the understanding, and I think that’s got to be me.



    1. Thanks, Andrew! We did make it safe and I’m enjoying some time with my in-laws and friends that live near my in-laws as well. I should be back on Tuesday evening to resume my blogging and linkup next week–much better rested, I might add!

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, it did come at a very high price, but sometimes that’s the best kind of wisdom.

      I don’t know that you are truly always in the wrong, but that might feel like an easier way to deal with the conflict–being humble and admitting your part rather than waiting on your wife to admit her part in the conflict.

      I bet you are far from that middle-American suburban male that your wife may have hoped and expected you to be. You’re wartime experiences alone give you a very unique perspective and way of coping, I’m sure. I agree with the reality that “someone has to supply the understanding.” You are stepping up and being the bigger person in the conflicts you have with your wife. It is a hard or high price you pay but good honor you give her when you do that. Thanks for joining the conversation when I know how painful it is for you these days! Prayers are always lifted!


  5. Beth, I love your honesty and openness. Quite frankly, I can’t believe the best of people don’t struggle. Where would they come up with the strategies had they not. I am glad that you give us permission here to be honest and look at our heart openly and without shame. We can only heal and be better for that, especially when we are open and honest with God and let Him bring us to a new place. Prayers and blessings on you and your this week!


    1. I think you’re probably right that people like that sometimes struggle, Jaime. Life is hard and when you have as Jim Burns says, “sinnerlings” that marry, you have lots of opportunities for pain and conflict! And you’re right about the strategy part. I’ve come up with some of my best marriage tools because of the conflicts we’ve worked through. In fact, that’s what my post will be about next week–a tool that I developed because of this conflict. Thanks so much for your sweet words of encouragement, my friend! They mean a lot to me!


  6. Wow, especially convicted by your words from I Corinthians 13 — I’m not to be keeping score here in this life together. Always such a blessing to come back to foundational truth.


    1. Thanks for letting me know, Michele! That’s the best kind of comment I get in this space–one where my lessons help to inspire and guide others. Then I know it was well worth walking through a time of failure, because God used it for other’s good! Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!


  7. For those of us who aren’t used to ‘heated exchanges’ {i.e. for those of us who stuff our discontent and frustration inside}, any kind of intense or loud verbal sparring leaves its mark. As ever, I appreciate your honesty here, Beth, and I applaud you and Gary for being up front in your journey …


    1. So I take it that you and Tim have more of a quiet, simmering style of conflict. Is that correct, Linda? I would probably have remained in my quiet and withdrawn simmerings if Gary hadn’t have tried to pull me out (often “kicking and screaming”) toward open conversations. Well, arguments mostly in those early days, but we’ve learned to talk through things calmly most of the time since then. It’s just that we can also easily go back for a ride on the old “crazy cycle” when we’re not careful or keeping our eyes on God. Thank you for your kind encouragement, my friend. It means so very much to me!


      1. There seems little conflict in this season, Beth. Dare I say that after 40 years we truly get each other? There’s lots more grace flowing and fewer challenges that would kick up that unhealthy stuffing I perfected back in the day.

        Praise God …


  8. Beth I love 1 Corinthians 13. My husband reads it at every wedding he does. I love taking the verse and putting my name in it where it says love I say Debbie. Causes me to pause because I don’t do all that. Thanks for the link-up.


    1. That’s a great way to make any Scripture come alive and have more of a penetrating impact on our hard hearts, Deborah. What a great practice your husband has kept in place. Thanks for sharing that idea! I love it!


  9. Dear Beth

    It’s difficult reading you being so hard on yourself. Have mercy on yourself too.

    I don’t know X and the others, but if they are celebrity marriage gurus they will have a carefully maintained public image, and maybe even marketing staff to make sure only the right messages get out. There’s no need to compare your real life with their advertising.

    1 Corinthians 13 is an over-used bit of scripture and often sounds trite (e.g. Tony Blair reading it at Princess Diana’s memorial service). You show the life in it. Love is work, and to always protect, trust, hope, and persevere is hard effort.

    (Actually that is one of the nicest things about your Worthy readings. Your responses really make the texts contemporary and alive.)

    Me: These days I seem to be in a strange blissed out mood. Happier than I’ve ever been maybe. Anger and resentment at my wife does flare up, but when it does I see it as mine, not as a reaction to something my wife has done. That more or less dissipates the emotion, and it re-affirms my love for my wife.

    I can’t say this is something I’ve learnt from conflicts within marriage. I can’t really say where this mood has come from – other than being in this Christian space so much.



    1. Well, those are just the insecurities that plague me sometimes, David. God has a way of encouraging me as I am open and honest about my faulty thinking, so don’t worry about me, my friend!

      You’re probably right about the crafted images of marriage gurus. They certainly aren’t going to highlight their failures, though many of them are very authentic. I really think that sometimes I’m listening to the accusations of Satan. He would love nothing more than to defeat our efforts and discourage me from feeling able. But it’s not about “me” being able, but God being the power and strength in my weakness.

      I am encouraged that you felt like my interpretation of that very iconic passage in 1 Corinthians was helpful to you. I have used those verses in personalized prayers and that’s where it really started to come to life to me–convicting me strongly in my relationship with Gary and others.

      I’m so very happy to hear about how you are doing with your wife and attitude in general!! That just thrills me to no end, my friend! And yes, there’s something freeing about being humble enough to look at our own contribution, instead of staying locked in some victim-mentality that is enslaved to our spouse’s decision to do right. And when they don’t we feel depressed! There’s a saying here in the U.S. that I would say to that … “I ain’t got no time for that!”

      You keep on seeking God and the truth of His word, my friend! My study times and prayer times are my favorite times in my day, so I totally relate to your feelings. Thanks so much for joining the conversation and encouraging me more than you know!


  10. I hate to admit it, but after an argument, my husband seems to be able to move on like nothing happens, and it can irritate me. Yuck! At least I am learning to recognize the need for letting it go quicker now! 🙂


    1. Yes, that would be very hard to see and experience, Sarah. It sounds like he is the avoider or the one who withdraws in your relationship. But the more my hubby tried to push me to open up, the more it caused chaos in our relationship. I’d say be as “safe” for him to open up to as you can. And yes, that means swallowing your pride and being the “bigger person” most of the time. With God’s encouragement and strength, you’ll be able to persevere and one day you might just “inspire” him to change and come toward you rather than his usual withdrawal. Thanks so much for opening up and joining the conversation. It’s nice to meet you too! I hope you keep coming back around!


  11. Oh, Judith, I really appreciate your tender heart regarding this post. You’ve honored me with your words, my friend!


  12. Oh yes, Bethany! We are two peas in a pod on this issue. I’ve learned so much from God about how to love my hubby and more importantly how to love and trust God through my conflicts! He wants to fulfill the needs that I so desperately seek from my hubby–putting way too much weight on his weak human shoulders. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, my friend! It’s nice to meet you!


  13. bluecottonmemory Avatar

    I’m not a quick thinker. I have to sort through things, so when I get irritated, sometimes I need time to sort out my response. I wish I could be quicker about how I do that!


  14. Hi Beth,
    I identify with the questioning of “How can I be giving counsel on this or that when I’m struggling with it” line of thought. I think everyone who counsels, encourages, speaks, or writes must. We are all human, but we have this desire to have it all together. Honestly, though, who would we be if we didn’t have to experience the tough times right along with our community? Authentic experiences and the determination to keep applying truth is the testimony! Thank you so much for being so authentic! It always encourages me to be comfortable in my own weaknesses, knowing that God will use it for His good! And thanks so much for sharing hope with us at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,


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