Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Battles Within

Welcome to all of you who stop by after reading today's P31 devotion on fighting. If you don't ever fight with your spouse, you can stop reading. But if you have had an argument or two with your significant other, read on. You're not alone.

The other day my friend Ariel and I were discussing birth order and which combinations make for the best marriages. She said that she and her husband were the combination that's supposed to work the best: a firstborn married to a baby of the family. Knowing the answer already, I asked her what the worst combination is. She answered, "Two firstborns."

Yep. That would be me and Curt. Two very strong personalities battling it out, willing to go to the mat over just about everything. Now we don't fight all the time, and we don't fight nearly as much as we did at first. But we can still get into a fight-- usually out of nowhere and usually over nothing. When we got in a fight a few weeks ago, my oldest asked me what we were fighting about. I told him the honest truth, "Something stupid that neither of us will remember later."

"Why do you do that?" he asked.

I told him, "That's marriage honey. Two people trying to live together all the time are bound to disagree. And sometimes they fight. Plain and simple."

But maybe it's just us. I know some couples don't fight. They are blessed. We are... not in that category.

So let's just say I've had to learn a thing or two about fighting-- how to respond, when to respond, and if I should respond. I don't respond perfectly all the time. Not even half the time. But every so often I do respond correctly, where once I had no idea how to get it right. Every year I get a little better at dealing with the desires that battle within me. Instead of acting selfishly I am learning to pray, to walk in truth, to take each thought captive and to be silent. None of it is easy, but it does work when I remember to do it. God wants to teach us through our struggles and He can use our marriages as training ground to make us more like Him. The trick is, we have to let Him.

And not fight Him on it. :)
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Jodie said...

It is so awesome to me how perfect God's timing is. I feel this devotion was aimed at me-it was exactly what I needed at this time in my life. Thank you for following the Lord's direction & writing this. It was awesome.
May God bless you always.

Love in Christ,

Chere said...

I agree with Jodie. Only God knew that I needed this today. I felt as though this was written just for me. Spoke directly to my heart and I will keep this devotional to remind me everyday what it is I need to do. Thank you for listening to the Lord's direction.
God Bless you.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful post and devotion! Thank you, Mary Beth. You go where many fear to tread and it is such a blessing to those of us struggling with the same battles. I'm the baby of the family married to a first born, and I must say it's not easy for us either. We are both VERY opinionated. Both of us struggle with holding our tongues. There are times when the anger rages inside and I feel as if there's no keeping it in. Any advice you have (along with praying) would be greatly appreciated.

Marybeth said...

Advice? Ah, advice on fighting is not something I feel qualified to give because we seem to take one step up and two steps back in that category.

But I will say that keeping silent is a big one. Jesus kept silent before his accusers and He was perfectly right to speak up. This is something I try to keep in mind when I want to say something and feel I am right or I "deserve" to say my peace. If Jesus, who was perfect, can keep silent then I certainly need to learn to do the same. Instead I pray that God would be my defender and that He would bring the truth to light if I truly believe I have a point. Sometimes He shows me I was wrong. (Yeah, those times are no fun.)

There's also the question I have written about before that I ask myself: "Which is more important? Being right or being in relationship?"

Also, the walking in truth is big. Satan is good at telling me that Curt doesn't really love me or that Curt is trying to deceive me or any number of other hot-button issues that he knows so well and knows right where to go. So I have had to learn to operate in truth. And the truth is, my husband is not my enemy. The truth is, I have an enemy and I need to remember who that is and stop casting my husband in that role. I need to believe the best about him and go to God with my worries, my fears and my insecurities.

None of this is easy. In the heat of the moment, it's so easy for all of this to fly out the window. When that happens, I figure out what I did wrong, I humble myself and apologize. Again, not easy. I am a prideful, prideful person. I hate saying I was wrong. But I take it back to that relationship that's so important.

Ok, that's the best I have to offer! Anyone else??

Anonymous said...

Hi Marybeth,
This is my first comment on your blog, but I have LOVED reading your devotionals and blog for quite some time. Today's was very timely for me! My husband and I had a big, stupid fight this weekend, but later we calmly talked about what the REAL issues were behind the stupid fight. That was useful. I wish I could have talked calmly to him in the first place, but it was only as I mulled over the fight that I realized what the REAL issue was. (MY demon inside -- the feeling of being neglected while work and chores and taking care of his elderly mother takes up all his time!!) Sometimes things just have to be flushed out. Too much silence could also build resentment to a dangerous level. Again, I do regret the yelling, but I am glad we eventually got the issues aired, and we both agreed to try to be more careful about what we say to each other.
Peace to you, Marybeth. You are a blessing to so many!

Anonymous said...

Love your devotion today, needed it last weekend ..rough weekend with hubby I didn't repond well at all, actually the worst I have ever done in my life...and pray it will be the last..
Birth order we are the worst, I'm an only child and he is last born - not a good combo either and yes we always find something stupid to fight over.

I've been reading out of the book from the movie fireproof and trying to respond differently - great book to remind us daily "The Love Dare" Great book.

Thanks again for sharing...nice to know that you aren't the only one out there going through junk :-)

Bonita said...

I simply cannot relate to people who don't fight. I'm happy for them, but totally don't relate. I'm a firstborn and John's a fifth born, but we still fight, though less than we used to and in a much more civil manner. I'm not sure how two human beings could share such a close relationship day after day and not have a tiff now and then. It used to make me feel guilty. Now it just makes me feel human.

Colleen said...


Thank you for you honesty and the timeliness of your devotional and posting, though it's true that the battle between flesh and Spirit wages daily (at least in me!)

Last night my husband was hours late and never called. I had an idea where he was, but he's done this before and I told my son I refused to worry about him. When he finally got home, before I opened my mouth, I prayed. I prayed! I remembered to ask God to help me know what to say, and to help me stay under control. God helped me, and I am thankful! Though things still did not go well, after reading your devotional today, I thought, hey! I did something right!

Thanks for the encouragement!

Dana and Daisy said...

we're both stubborn hard headed people. We fight.

We both joked last night about something we both agreed on (a gift for his mom) and I said, if we BOTH agree, then we KNOW we're right!

then I said, "the rest of the time, I'm right." ha!

Debra said...

Thanks Marybeth. I especially focused on the part of being right or being in relationship..Good words.
BTW-Love the cover of your book the mailbox..Hope things went well at the house over the weekend with the your kids.
Continued Prayers.

Chrissy said...

My husband and I are both firstborns, so I know what you're saying about the fights. When you're used to be the oldest, the leader, it's hard to relinquish that power.

I don't believe there are couples who don't fight. Maybe they don't have the knock-down-drag-outs that we have, but they do get angry and frustrated with one another. It's impossible not to when you're in a marriage or a serious relationship. I almost believe it's better to openly battle it out than to keep things locked up.

And like you, I think I get better over the years, but I'm still a long way from being what God wants me to be - in my marriage AND in life.

Anonymous said...

Please be reminded that while disagreements happen in every relationship; abuse does not!
Not just verbal or physical; that's obvious. Manipulation can be quite subtle, and is most self seeking indeed!
If the disagreement cannot be conducted in a respectful manner, with the goal being parter/family oriented, do not be silent, please seek outside help.

Thanks for an excellent devotion Marybeth!

Trench Mommy said...

Excellent post, Marybeth! Loved it! I'm a firstborn married to a middle child.

Anonymous said...

I was pondering all the insignificant battles I have had in my life. People are often asked, “If they had their life to do over again, would they change any of it?” Most people respond with no because they feel as though the challenges have made them stronger or helped to shape them into the person they are. I would only say yes to the quarrel/battles/fights I have encountered with some people due to my mind and heart overtaking my spiritual response to the situation. Some of the things I did encounter and overcame have shaped me to be a strong, spiritual woman/mother/wife/friend. Our minds and hearts can deceive us and lead us down the wrong path if we don’t take the time to sit quietly and pray on the situation/problem. I know I can’t dwell on the past, but I can change the way I handle things in the present and future. Don’t react too quickly. Never hold grudges and let go of any pain or hurt because it’s not for us to handle; we must place it in God’s hands.

Per your devotional:
Winning the Battle = Prayer, Truth, Taking thoughts captive, Silence

Latoya Simpson

navywife said...

Todays message made me literally go, oh boy...last night i fought with my husband. i feel so justifyied in my wars, its my whole cause and effect theory...he did something wrong, i am now anxious and angry so deal with it! But the reality is, I am making a choice to hold on to my anger, I am making a choice to justify my actions because of his mistakes (i can't even begin to woner if I was held accountable for my mistakes what it would be like!!), and ultimately i am making a choice to create a wedge between my husband and i. If God could love us and wipe us clean of all our grime, wouldn't it be true that there would be a partner here on earth for us in which, with God's help, we practice this same thing?
Thank you for this most needed reminder, to keep my self in check, to listen to His word and not my heart.
Michelle from Long Island NY

Anonymous said...

Hello Mary Beth, I forwarded your devotional to 10 ladies in my Bible study small group and in a short time I got 3 "Just what I needed to hear!" messages back! God used your words mightily........

And this also applies to those of us who are unmarried! I'm a widow and my loneliness often brings about a pity party and unreasonable expectations of my adult children. So, thanks for a beautiful reminder of how God can easily take on all my troubles!

Anonymous said...

I'm also a firstborn married to a firstborn. Sparks fly! But God is teaching us after 8 years of marriage. A great Bible study we just finished at church is called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. It really teaches us that marriage isn't about our happiness, but about our holiness. I'd recommend it to anyone!

Mags said...

After a weekend of ugly seeds making their way into my mind, yesterday was the fruit of those nasty things. I was so down on myself for letting my tongue get so loose. I realized I had not guarded my heart well. I felt your devotion was personally from God reminding me of His truths and of His unconditional love. To pick myself up, dust myself off and carry forward. Thank you for letting Him flow through you to touch the lives of others.

Victoria said...

Praise God His Word does not return void! Looks like He used you to bless some relationships today. I actually had one of those moments when I didn't say what I wanted to say--when I was in an awful mood, and the next day I was so glad! It would have been nit-picking and making something out of nothing. Now, if I could just have more of those moments! I pray the Holy Spirit will remind me about Jesus being silent. Thanks again and God bless!

amber waves of grain said...

I laughed when I read, "Knowing the answer already, I asked her what the worst combination is." I already knew, also! We're two firstborns, both stubborn, both wanting to lead. We're only 4 months into marriage, but have seen already how our personalities can clash at times. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Just what I needed to hear today. :)