The GOOD Fight

The other night Timi and I had a good fight. I mean a really good one. The topic that got the whole thing going was one that has gotten us into trouble many times before. The emotions began to rise. The intensity of our communication rose.

Have you been there? The level of tension begins to rise in a conversation and you know that this is going no where good.

Many today have no frame of reference that would suggest conflict could lead to anything positive. If you grew up in a home where conflict was violent or dangerous, just hearing someone raise their voice can push buttons that make you feel afraid and unsafe. If you witnessed conflict being met with silence, distance, or the “cold shoulder”, than you might naturally expect conflict to be punished with relational distance or withdrawal. If differences in your home were regularly “swept under the rug”, than an escalating disagreement could leave you feeling despair because you are sure that it will not be resolved.

The apostle Paul injects a concept into this discussion that I find intriguing. In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  What did Paul just say that I find so striking? He put two words together that we don’t often associate with each other – “good” and “fight”. Now I’m pretty confident that Paul was not talking about a recent argument with his wife. He was looking back over his spiritual journey. And yet, he clearly believes that there is such a thing as a “good fight”.

Today, neuro-chemical brain research is showing that there is actually such a thing as positive stress. Some stress or conflict can actually release chemicals that enhance brain performance.

Since we are all marvelously unique individuals who have been touched by the Fall, conflict is inevitable. But the surprising truth is that it can be GOOD for your relationship – IF you do it well. So what would a good fight look like for you and your spouse? I got to thinking about what had made ours such a great fight  and I jotted a few notes in my journal. Here are the ingredients that made our fight such a GOOD one:

  • Choose to fight well. Set your mind to be vulnerable, express emotion, and DO NO HARM.
  • Speak candidly – listen compassionately (hear the fear behind the anger).
  • Engage prayerfully – during the conversation, send frequent prayers heavenward for compassion, insight, understanding, and wisdom.
  • Verbalize understanding – let them know that you really “get” what they are saying. Keep working at it until you succeed.
  • Articulate care – respond with words which show that you really care about what they are feeling. You may not agree, but because you care about them, you care about what they are feeling.
  • Forgive freely – when forgiveness is sought, give it without exacting a price… give it willingly. (We talk in depth about the balance between love and limits in our Marriage Conversion University module on Forgiveness)
  • Reconnect emotionally – take the TIME to talk, laugh, cry, or clarify until you both know in your hearts that you are on the same team. This is the oil that reduces relational friction.

Following these tips meant that we finished our fight feeling closely connected. We understood each other better and could rest in the assurance that we were looking out for each other. A GOOD fight draws us closer together.

So the next time you feel the tension rising in your relationship, consider these steps and have a GOOD FIGHT!

Join the conversation – post your comments or ideas for a good fight below.

– Richie


photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)


  1. Tonya
    9 years ago

    I love a good fight. However, they are few and far between. Most of our fights end in a tie. We both loose. I look forward to the next opportunity to try these new tools. Perhaps we will both win next fight.

    • Richie
      9 years ago

      Hi Tonya – too often everybody loses in conflict. With practice, I believe you two really can master this and make MOST of your fights good ones!

  2. Cynthia
    7 years ago

    This is good information. I think we are able to have ‘better’ fights as we age in our relationship together– we have been married for 45+ years– and if we are not in the midst of a whole pack of tertiary stresses that trigger many different emotions. It helps if one member of the couple is not a dyed-in-the-wool conflict avoider and can use the gift of confrontation in a loving way to clear a broody situation. I totally agree with your suggestion for prayerfulness throughout. Thanks for the post! (arrived here via @backtoenoch on Twitter)

    • Richie
      7 years ago

      Thanks Cynthia, We’re glad to have you join us here at Marriage Conversion. I’ll pass my thanks along to Dave for sending you our way.