9 Ways to Fuel Disagreements Into a Feud — Part 1

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Husbands and wives will not always agree with each other. There will often be differences of opinion and even differing convictions on issues that matter to one or both. Two people can be at odds with each other about what church to attend, private school versus public school, whether to spend or save money, whose parents to spend Christmas morning with, how to discipline the children, how often to have sex, the extent to which they should talk about their feelings about the relationship, and the list goes on. Over time, two people can hurt, frustrate, confuse, and anger each other, to the point where the wife is feeling unloved and the husband disrespected, contradictory to what is commanded in Ephesians 5:33.

She feels that her differing opinion and convictions do not matter to him as much as his own ideas matter. Or, he feels that his differing outlook and beliefs have little importance to her compared to how she feels about her views.

When we begin to feel that our ideas do not matter and that we do not matter on the heels of another disagreement, we must guard against the nine ways to fuel this disagreement into a feud.

HOW TO FUEL DISAGREEMENTS INTO FEUDS

1. Build up angry feelings.

During this disagreement, convince yourself that your spouse is doing more than differing with you but that your spouse is calling into question your intelligence and right to have an opinion. Draw the conclusion that your spouse is choosing to be unloving or disrespectful. Let yourself feel unloved or disrespected. Let yourself get angry. Feed the reasons that you ought to be angry. Nurse the anger. Keep feeding it day after day. Build up those angry feelings. Let that anger fester, then explode in anger. This kind of anger fuels the disagreement into a feud between you. It also turns you into an unloving and disrespectful person.

Proverbs 30:33—". . . churning of anger produces strife."

2. Misinterpret the evidence.

For example, during the disagreement about where to go on Christmas morning, interpret your spouse as not liking your parents because they recommend going to their parents’ house on that morning. Then, interpret your husband as abusive because he shuts down on this conversation after five minutes and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore at this time in order to prevent this from escalating. Then, later on interpret your wife as sexless because that evening she declines being sexually intimate while complaining about not resolving the conflict about Christmas morning and understanding her feelings.

As a wife, misinterpret the facts about why your husband withdraws and disconnects during a conflict. Instead of interpreting him to be feeling disrespected and trying to do the honorable thing during conflict by de-escalating it, claim that he is behaving this way because he is the most unloving man on the planet.

As a husband, misinterpret the fact about why your wife complains and criticizes during conflict. Instead of interpreting her as feeling unloved and trying to do the loving thing during conflict by resolving and reconciling, claim that she is behaving this way because she is the most disrespectful woman on earth.

Twist the facts. Interpret your blue husband through your pink lens and interpret your pink wife through your blue lens. This is a surefire way to fuel the disagreement into a feud.

Proverbs 18:2—“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.”

3. Judge their motives.

Go beyond their behaviors that you deem hurtful and impugn their motive. Call into question the reason they do what they do. In fact, tell them you know exactly why they do what they do. As a wife, judge your husband as wanting to be an uncaring, unloving human being when he appears insensitive. Attack his heart instead of focusing on his conduct. As a husband, judge your wife as wanting to be a nagging, disrespectful person when she appears critical. Attack her heart rather than address her actions. As best you can, assassinate your spouse’s character and condemn their inner spirit. This pretty much guarantees throwing gas on the fire. A feud is surely to be fueled.

1 Corinthians 4:5—"Do not go on passing judgment . . . but wait until the Lord . . . will both bring to light the things hidden . . . and disclose the motives of men's hearts."

4. Assume (and assert) you're right.

Claim that your spouse started the Crazy Cycle by being unloving and disrespectful. They are the wronging party. The Crazy Cycle says that without love a wife reacts without respect and without respect a husband reacts without love. Instead of seeing that you started the Crazy Cycle, take up offense as a righteous person (the one who is right) and declare that your spouse is the unrighteous one (the one who is wrong). Claim that because you feel offended, this proves they are the offensive one and in the wrong. Maintain that you are justified for how you feel but they are not justified for how they feel. Asserting that you are right and they are wrong helps to fuel a disagreement into a feud.

Proverbs 28:25—"An arrogant man stirs up strife."

Has anything hit home with you yet? Are any of these first four ways a little too familiar and convicting to you? In part 2, we discuss five more ways that are sure to fuel a simple, everyday disagreement into an all-out feud between you and your spouse. But before going on, please honestly answer these few questions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How can being mindful of Ephesians 5:33 help keep a disagreement with your spouse from fueling into a feud?

  2. When in a disagreement with your spouse, do you ever find yourself building up angry feelings and coming to unjust conclusions? What helps lead you to this point?

  3. Why is it often so easy to misinterpret the evidence in a disagreement? Do you think you ever do so because you actually are intentionally looking to misinterpret and argue?

  4. Why do we so often feel that we can rightfully judge our spouses’ motives?

  5. Why is it easier to claim your spouse is the reason you got on the Crazy Cycle than to admit that you may have been the guilty party?

-Dr. E