Rules for Fair Fighting: Rule #5

Rev. Deb Koster

August 30, 2018

FAIR FIGHTING RULE #5: Keep It Private 

Our spouse is our priority and center of gravity—we seek to show a united front to the world. We should never quarrel or reveal private matters in public or with children.  

Many couples get into trouble when a spouse chooses to complain to or confide in someone outside of the marriage relationship. Too often people draw family or friends into their drama instead of speaking directly with their spouse about areas of tension.  

MATT 18:15 — If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  

When we triangulate a third party into our relationship, we undermine the trust within the relationship. We should never complain or share personal information about our spouse or our conflict with coworkers or friends.

 Belittling your spouse to someone else damages your marriage. Confiding in someone outside the marriage is not only unfair to your spouse, over time it can open doors of intimacy to those outside of marriage and lead to an affair.
So what do you do when your spouse isn’t receptive to your concerns?

Matthew 18 advises that if we can’t get someone to listen then we should bring in a third party. But that third party should not be her mother or his best friend. If a couple needs third party intervention, it should be with a counselor or pastor who is trained to mediate. We muddy the waters of relationships when we draw other family and friends into our marriages and make them take our side.

Kids especially should never be the third party in our marital challenges. We should always keep our children out of our conflicts. It’s one thing to model healthy conflict for kids, but quite another to ask them to take sides or “see what your spouse it really like.” It is quite damaging for them to be pulled into adults’ issues or forced to side between parents--it’s a major sign of dangerous dysfunction and that it’s time for professional help. If your kids are already taking sides, take pains to remove them from the conflict. Kids need their home to be their safe haven, and they will suffer wounds if their home becomes a battleground. As much as possible, present a unified parenting front to kids.  

Take your anger and disappointment with your spouse to your spouse, and honor them in front of everyone else. Don’t be afraid to get help, but let it be a pastor or counselor who will keep confidences and wishes the best for you both!

About the author — Rev. Deb Koster

Deb Koster is a producer, writer, and speaker for Family Fire. She is also an Innkeeper at The Parsonage Inn in Grand Rapids, MI where she leads marriage retreat on weekends. After over 20 years as a Registered Nurse, she completed a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Deb and her husband Steven enjoy doing ministry together and they are the parents of three awesome young adults.

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