If you're married, then you fight. You might call it arguing or disagreeing or conflict, but it's all the same. When our opinions bang up hard against our husband's ideas or we feel like his actions aren't adequately displaying Christ, fights happen.
As imperfect humans, there will always be places of tension in our relationships, especially in the depth of intimacy and close proximity of our marriages. Our sinful tendency is to fight with weapons of the world: scathing rebuttals, icy shutdowns, or cutting reminders of past inadequacies. This is ugly fighting. But God has enough grace to transform even fights with our spouses into something beautiful if we adorn ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit.
Understanding a Gentle and Quiet Spirit
There are a lot of misconceptions about having a gentle and quiet spirit. I get it, ladies—I don't consider myself either gentle or quiet by nature. I'm outspoken and the volume of my voice is generally loud or deafening. I’m not naturally the poster-child for biblical womanhood, but I've learned that by God's grace, I can be adorned with a gentle and quiet spirit in how I relate to my husband, even if it looks a little loud in my actions. Fellow loud and bold wives, our personalities need not be threatened by keeping our heart within gentle and quiet. In the same way, if you are a woman whose personality is outwardly gentle and quiet, your actions may not be consistent with the war going on inside of your own heart—especially during a fight with your husband.
A gentle and quiet heart is not something that comes naturally to any of us, but Peter admonishes wives in particular to adorn ourselves with it in 1 Peter 3:4: “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
The term adorn tells us that being gentle and quiet in marriage isn’t our natural tendency; it’s something that we must put on. Gentleness is a fruit of the spirit, which means that it doesn’t come from our own abilities but by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within our hearts.
Peter tells us that it makes our hearts beautiful and precious to God. This means that even fighting with our husbands (which in our natural ability will only be ugly) can be transformed into something beautiful and God-glorifying if we enter into conflict with our hearts filled with a spirit of gentleness and quietness.
There are three tendencies of our sinful hearts that make our fighting ugly, but three ways that a gentle and quiet spirit can transform fights into something beautiful.
A Prideful Heart Fights Ugly By:
- Talking over our husbands. This can be actually cutting off your husband’s words to insert your justification or argument, but more often it’s a mind problem. While he talks, we maintain a running commentary of our own opinions, comebacks, and justifications in our minds. We start mentally preparing our next arguments or remembering how many times he's failed in the past. We can’t possibly hear him talking because our own hearts are yelling within us. This mental flow is the opposite of quietness.
- Focusing on winning the argument. Whether the fight is a simple difference of opinion or a true sinful offense, we want to win the battle. Few things bring out our own self-righteousness quite like a fight. In regular life, it can be challenging to remember a correct understanding of our own imperfect humanity, but in a fight it feels nearly impossible. When our husbands dare to threaten our pride, our self-righteousness is quick to jump to justification instead of recognizing our tendency to fail and Jesus’ perfect justification of our sins.
- Trying to be the Holy Spirit. Convicting our husbands is not our job. We are not the Holy Spirit, and our quickness to turn the tables to the fault of our husbands is not the kind of tool God uses to create spiritual growth in our husbands.
A Gentle and Quiet Spirit Fights Beautifully By:
- Going to God first, and her husband second. It is good to pause a fight and ask for time to consider the problem with God. It's even better when you get upset with your husband to not begin a conflict until you have had time to process with God. Even if his actions or decisions were the original instigation of the argument, because of our human imperfections, we always play some role in the issue.
Meeting with God before you confront your husband gives God the opportunity to illuminate your own idols that you might put God back on the throne of your heart and come to your husband in right standing with God. Going to God first also opens the door for God to minister to you in your disappointment. It is good for our hearts to draw near to God and find Him sufficient to fulfill our every desire, even if our husbands are not willing to reconcile or apologize.
- Praying for wisdom. We do not always perceive the circumstances or difference of opinion correctly upon first consideration. God generously grants wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:5). Let go of your pride and open your heart to the wisdom of God applied to your unique confrontation. I've found that the wisdom God lends often leads to a humbling acceptance of my own issues and a gentle and merciful spirit toward the failings of my husband.
- Grieving your own sin and confessing first. If you adorn yourself with a gentle and quiet spirit you will not withhold your own confession, even if her husband's offense feels greater than yours. You will be so grieved by your sin that you will quickly repent and ask for forgiveness from both God and your husband. While the Holy Spirit rarely uses our desire to turn the tables to the fault of our husbands to create spiritual growth, I have often seen Him use my humble apology to spark contriteness and confession in my husband.
The Key to a Beautiful Fight
When we find ourselves fighting with our husbands, we must seek the power of the Holy Spirit. On our own, we can never adorn our spirits with gentleness and quietness—especially in a fight, the very place we need that kind of spirit the most. If we want to be the kind of women who go to God first, pray for wisdom in confrontation, grieve their own sin and confess first, we must be women who abide daily with our God. He is the only One who can change our fighting attitude from self-righteousness to servanthood.
Let us draw near to that powerful, heart-changing God. Invite Him into the dark, broken places of our spirit where we feel the need to fight for our justification and let His Spirit transform ours. Our personalities do not have to determine how we fight with our husbands. When we abide with Jesus, He takes off our tattered, sinful rags and clothes our spirits with His own righteousness. In those holy, blood-bought clothes, we can fight with our husbands in a way that displays the beauty of the gospel.