Every married couple fights.  Even if you don’t want to give your disagreements such an extreme designation, the reality is this – conflict will come between each other.  So, how do you survive such times?

If you are going to fight, you better fight fair.

Here are 5 fight rules for married couples:

#1 – Never Go to Bed Angry

First, never go to bed angry.  Scripture teaches that it is acceptable to be angry, but we are not allowed to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26).  Since God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23), we shouldn’t ruin tomorrow’s potential with today’s problems.  Deal with today’s problems today.  There will be plenty to concern yourself with tomorrow (Matt. 6:34).

#2 – Don’t Use a “Sorry, But”

Second, don’t use a “sorry, but.”  This tactic is subtle but evasive.  “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but…”  These apologies intend to appease your spouse while simultaneously blaming him or her for your actions.  When I try to justify my actions, I invalidate my apology.  It is more important to be reconciled than it is to be right.  Do your part to live at peace (Rom. 12:18) and to pursue it (Heb. 12:14).       

#3 – Don’t Retract Your Forgiveness

Third, don’t retract your forgiveness.  Since we have been forgiven of so much, we should be eager to forgive (Col. 3:13).  In that forgiveness, we should forgive like Jesus does (Matt. 6:15-16) which includes removing the sin completely (Ps. 103:12) and administering the type of love that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5).  Once you forgive your spouse for something, that should be the last time you ever bring it up.

#4 – No Double-Teaming

Fourth, no double-teaming.  Double-teaming in marriage is when one spouse goes to others for help with marriage issues but never goes to the spouse to work it out.  If you have a problem with your spouse, the first person who should know about it should be your spouse.  Never involve insignificant others in your relationship with your significant other.  Humbly reveal your spouse’s faults in private (Matt. 18:15).

#5 – Never Play Out of Bounds

Fifth, never play out of bounds.  We each have quirks.  We each have triggers.  We each have areas which we think are out of bounds regarding conflicts.  For you, it might be out of bounds for your spouse to walk away during a conflict or raise a voice when angered.  Some of your words and tactics in communication may not be sinful in of themselves, but due to how your spouse is wired, they must be off-limits.  If your spouse indicates that a word, phrase, expression, action, or mannerism bothers him or her, then take it out of the playbook.  Discard it and never use it again.  Marriage should teach you to bend to your spouse’s desires instead of focusing on your own (Phil. 2:3-4), so find out what hurts your spouse and stop doing it.    

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.