In my series on healthy fight rules for couples (you can see all of them here), I have finally come to the last one for now. The last one is:
Couple’s Fight Rule #5: Never Play Out of Bounds
What I mean by this is that each couple is unique and each person in that couple is unique. There are some trigger words for your spouse that need to be off limits. There are certain mannerisms that are unusable. There are certain things you could do or say that should be out of bounds for you to use.
Have you ever said a certain word that hurt someone a lot more than expected? Have you ever done something to someone and you felt like they overreacted? It could be because there is a lot of history behind whatever you just did. You were actually dealing with more than you thought you were.
My marriage has a few quirky things that are out of bounds when we are disagreeing. For me, I cannot stand for someone to walk away from me when we are talking. Heated conversation or not, it is one of my pet peeves if I say something and someone doesn’t respond to me. I can’t stand for someone to walk away from a conversation. My personal belief is that anyone should be able to keep their cool long enough to have a sensible conversation. Since Amanda doesn’t want to play out of bounds on me, she realizes that bothers me, and she sticks with me through those conversations.
Amanda’s is a little different. She can’t stand for anyone to raise their voice when they are talking. Her family is full of soft-spoken people, mine is not. Her family members can speak softly to each other, my family was and is loud. If you can’t be heard, you just talk louder! Early on in our marriage, I realized that raising my voice (I’ve never yelled at her, but just getting more vocal or animated with my tone) really unnerved her. She didn’t think I was going to hit or anything, it just unsettled her. I thought that was ridiculous because I come from loud people. I thought it was completely understandable for me to get louder at times.
But I changed. Why? Because it was out of bounds for her. If it bothered my wife, I would adapt to meet her needs better. She did the same for me.
What are your communication rules that you need to play in bounds? Do you have those words or mannerisms that really get to you? Check with your spouse and see if anything you say or do triggers something in them. If you find something out, you need to do whatever it takes to change your words and your behavior.
Our world teaches to wait on other people to bend to our desires.
Marriage teaches us to bend to our spouse’s desires.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but rather by humilty of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not look out for your own personal desires, but for the desires of others.” -Phil. 2:3-4