While it may seem like a silly question it is actually one of the most important to answer about yourself in the context of your marriage. Why? Because knowing your natural inclinations when it comes to conflict will help you determine steps you need to take in order to ensure you don’t emotionally throw in the towel every time you disagree with your spouse.
Fighters love conflict. They thrive in turmoil and pursue hostility. It’s not because they are evil, but it gives them an opportunity to accomplish something, solve a problem, or face a challenge and overcome.
Fighters see conflict as opportunity to grow. Insecurity is not an enemy to the fighter it is only an indicator that a conflict must be resolved in order for security to be established; it is seen as a challenge.
Runners hate conflict. They get as far away from it as possible. At the first sign of relational adversity they tend to run into their emotional cave and post a sign that reads, “Do Not Disturb.” Emotionally, they clock out.
Conflict causes anxiety for runners. And, it can make them feel unsafe. Insecurity is a runner’s archenemy, they hate it with a passion, and will do every thing in their power to never experience it.
Which are you? Which is your spouse?
Both are actually necessary in a healthy marriage. However, consistently choosing one tendency over the other can be extremely destructive.
There are times when you need to stick it out, hash through a major argument, and not allow yourself any sleep before you work through it. I know this can be extremely difficult at times. The temptation is for both of you to turn your backs to one another, feel sorry for yourselves, or whisper how appalled you are at your spouse’s horrible attitude. But, you have to refuse to fall into this rut.
Then, there are times when you both need to run into the secret place and give one another some space. Sometimes in the midst of a heavy conflict or discussion you need to give each other a negotiated time out, a certain amount of time you both agree on to step back and breathe so that you can come back into the conversation with a steady mind and heart. Even though you are both adults (hopefully), every now and then you both need an emotional, negotiated, time out.
Finally, there are certain times you need to be able to look at each other and say, “This is foolish. Why are we even arguing about this? We are both going to run from this.” Some things are really not worth fighting over.
Understanding what you and your spouse are, fighter or runner, will help you to give your marriage a fighting chance and not to emotionally throw in the towel during conflicts. It will help you recognize your tendencies, expose your fears, and work together to compliment one another.
You don’t need to be the same and you don’t need to be afraid of your next big argument. But, you do need to learn how to work through conflict in a way that builds your marriage and builds up one another.
Let’s Do This Together
In your marriage are you a fighter or runner? How has it negatively or positively impacted your marriage?