Is it really possible to go an entire deployment without ever having a disagreement? And still have a healthy relationship that isn’t filled with unresolved issues? My experience is that it isn’t quite possible. My experience is also that any squabble, no matter how small, can be 10 times more difficult in the midst of stress and distance.
However, there are some tried and true steps that can help all of us resolve disagreements in our marriages, no matter how far or how long we are apart from our husbands.
1) Take time to figure out the real heart of the issue.
Sometimes, especially when you have to wait days or even weeks to communicate about an issue, it can become extremely muddled in your heart. Spend intentional time asking yourself what you are really upset about in every situation. Are you really angry that your husband missed the chance to talk for reasons beyond his control? Or are you actually just struggling with stress and emotions that you hoped to relieve with a phone call from him? Under extreme stress, it’s easy for frustrations in one area of life to aggravate and spill into other areas. At other times, your surface level irritation about a small issue may reflect a deeper issue that you need to acknowledge. Until you get to the heart of the matter the same fight might pop up over and over again or just never get resolved.
2) Try to communicate calmly.
The time you get to spend talking is ever so precious during a deployment. Don’t spend it yelling, being sarcastic, or making passive aggressive remarks, even if that’s what you feel like doing. Sometimes, yelling in frustration almost feels good, but if that’s all you feel you can do, let your spouse know you need to skip a phone call and wait for a time when you can be calm. When you do get to talk, speak in terms of yourself, since your side of the story is the only one you know for sure. Saying, “I feel” or “I understood” will keep your words from feeling like an attack. Always be sure to ask your husband questions about his words, actions, and decisions before you jump to conclusions about his motives!
3) Pray for the ability to forgive.
Sometimes it’s hard to forgive your spouse, even when you know you should. In any part of life, forgiveness isn’t ours to withhold, since we have been forgiven so completely without deserving it in Christ. But God doesn’t expect us to be superhumans who can forgive as well as He does, so pray for His help. Ask Him to help you release your anger and move beyond any wrongs. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are condoning your husband’s actions — God doesn’t condone ours — instead, it’s a choice to move forward in love and hope.Apologies are way more effective when you say what you are apologizing for and take responsibilityClick To Tweet
4) Be honest with yourself about what you could do better and apologize.
It’s extremely rare that anyone makes it through an entire fight without making a mistake. We are all just humans! But for a fight to be fully resolved, everyone needs to apologize for their mistakes, even if their mistakes didn’t start the fight. Even if you misstepped because you were fighting or because of something your spouse said or did, you had a choice in how you responded, and it’s important to own that responsibility. (P.S. Apologies are way more effective when you say what you are apologizing for and take responsibility — that means no “I’m sorry you felt that way” Your apology should be for your actions, “I’m sorry I did x to make you feel y.”)
5) Commit to being honest if things are not resolved.
Within personal relationships, it seems that our culture increasingly avoids confrontation and conflict. However, unaddressed wounds or frustrations can quickly breed contempt, which can then damage love. When we do face conflict, it can be tempting to just give up at a certain point and go through the motions to end a fight, even if we aren’t okay. Make a commitment to your spouse to let him know if you haven’t fully addressed everything and to return to the issue when you are able to. Don’t leave things unresolved forever. You’ll both be able to release the tension of a fight more easily if you both know there aren’t any hidden traps waiting on the other side.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV).