It was a hot summer day in KY, the temperature was close to 100 degrees. I was in the last days of grad school and had a 20-page paper to write. I drove into the city and found a Starbucks. I then spent five hours on the paper. I walk out of Starbucks with no stress, feeling really accomplished and ready to enjoy the rest of the day. As I walked across the sweltering parking lot, I looked at my car and I noticed my window had been shattered. I approached my car and opened the door to discover something much different.
I had left a red-colored pop (that is what we call it up north…sorry to you all, who call it soda or coke) in the cup holder of my car. The entire top of the pop can was hanging off the side of the can. I looked up to notice there were red dots all over the light gray ceiling of my car and a film of pop all over my windshield. The temperature in my car was so hot that it caused the can to explode. And friends…that’s why we call it POP! The same thing happens in our marriage if we are not careful. Just like with each degree and heat ray that slowly caused the pop to explode, the little things in our lives take our “emotional temperature” to dangerous levels. If we do not address it in healthy ways, we end up exploding on our spouse or family, causing a huge, sticky mess that is overwhelming to clean up.
Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. —1 Corinthians 1:10
Avoid an Argument in Your Marriage with These 5 Steps
Here are some tips to avoid “popping.”
Step 1: Practice self-care.
Take time for yourself, even if it’s only 10 to 15 min. Do something each day that you enjoy or something that makes you feel accomplished, rested, happy, healthy…whatever you need. (Luke 9:28)
Step 2: Have a list of coping skills you can use when you feel stressed.
This is something you can do to help calm yourself, while you personally process how you feel (and how you want to react). Examples could be, but are not limited to: exercise, talking to a friend, napping, having a snack, going for a walk, journaling, listening to music, praying or reading the Bible. It’s important to note that coping skills are tools to help you come back to deal with the situation that was causing you stress. (James 3:16-18)
Step 3: Avoid attempting to have deep conversations when emotions are high.
Take time to calm down before talking. Give each other space. When we are angry, upset, or experiencing heightened emotions, we are not getting enough oxygen to the brain, our blood pressure is elevated, our heart is beating fast…our body is in a panic mode. We cannot think or communicate clearly or effectively in this state. (John 14:27)
Step 4: Listen to your spouse in order to understand and not retaliate.
Ask questions to help clarify how they feel and what they think. Asking good questions can avoid an argument in your marriage before it starts. Be open to owning your own behaviors or contributions to the conflict, that’s not a weakness…that’s a powerful tool for growth. (James 1:19-20)
Step 5: You’re on the same team.
Remember you are on the same team working toward the same goal, a godly healthy marriage. (1 Cor. 1:10)
So today, when you reach for that can of pop, take a moment to examine yourself, pray, and ask God if there is anything you are suppressing that you need to confront, to make your marriage stronger.
CHEERS!!!. (Keep working hard, your marriage matters so much to God and His Kingdom…as I tip my Coke Zero to you)
Grace Marriage Mission
Pick one of the five steps in which you’re weakest. Now, share that step with your spouse. Pray and decide to work on each other’s weaknesses together.
Chandra Heath holds a master’s of counseling degree and is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since 2002, Chandra has been working professionally with children, youth, and families. Chandra has been married since 2004, and she and her husband have two children. She and her husband are very passionate about helping marriages be God honoring, healthy, and safe.