The Bible says, “Agree with your adversary quickly”; how much more should this be true with your spouse? Learning how to take the low road of humility is an absolutely critical piece in learning how to stop the fight before it even begins. By swallowing your pride and agreeing with your spouse when you have a disagreement, you will save yourself a world of trouble… and save yourself countless unnecessary fights. Here are a few ways to ensure that you take the low road and reap the benefits of doing so:
1. Realize you have a tendency to be self-centered. Face it. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. If you are a human, this is true of you. Children are dead give aways of this universal quality. You don’t need to teach children to think it’s all about them; they are just born that way. Everything is about and revolves around him/her. We may think their vying for attention is cute when they are small, but no one thinks a self-centered adult is… much less a self-centered spouse. The faster you can come to grip with the fact that it is not always about you and that you are not always going to be the protagonist or the martyr, the easier it is to be humble.
2. Learn the three magic words of marriage. My best friend Dan, my younger brother Grant and I all lived together in college. The funny thing about Dan was that he was a third degree black belt in karate… and a pacifist. So Grant would, for sport, jump on top of him and start wailing on Dan. But Dan would never fight back. In fact, he would just go limp and play dead until Grant got bored and gave up because it is no fun to fight a dead man. Fighting becomes a moot point.
So here are the three magic words of marriage: “I am sorry.”
Just like fighting a dead man is pointless, when you take the road of humility with your spouse and say your sorry (even when in reality you may not have done anything wrong – more on this later), you completely take away any reason for your spouse to fight back or continue to fight. I remember multiple times when I was very hurt or upset about something and I brought it up to Tracy looking for vengeance or to simply stick it to her and instead of fighting back she simply said, “i am sorry babe. I did not mean to hurt you and I will try my best to do better next time.” (For more on how to do this well, check out Part 1 of the How to Fight Series: The Green Zone). It totally deflated my argument. I had nothing left to say. She diffused me on the spot by taking the low road of humility. And that was the end of that.
3. See beyond the sprint; learn how to run the marathon. Long term vision yields long terms results. This is very true in marriage. The question you need to ask yourself is “Would I rather be right or in relationship?” If you want to be right (and a prideful punk), then go ahead and win the argument to feel good about yourself. Nice job slick. But if you are more concerned about being in relationship, then take the low road, humble yourself, and apologize. Suck it up for the sake of the long haul.
The goal is not to be right; the goal is to love your spouse. The best way to love your spouse is to look at the relationship as a whole, not just moment by moment. When you take a bird’s eye view, you realize that if you can simply let your pride fall down for just a few minutes, you can make a small deposit in your marriage, mainly diffusing yet another fight and maintaining the peace in your home, that pays long term dividends.
Don’t let pride win and ruin another day in your marriage. Avoid the fight by taking the low road of humility.
Don’t miss How to Fight Part 3 for some final thoughts on this topic!