ARGUMENTS IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGES, AND HOMES
In our homes, marriages, and during the times of courtship or in our general relationships with people, men and women give a thousand excuses for being grumpy and discontented, and thereby develop arguments from complaints and criticisms, and try to explain away why they say what they say, why they are who they are, and reasons why they do what they do.
For example, why they:
1) Are short-tempered.
2) Mess up the finances.
3) Carry foul body odours around.
4) Have unkempt hair; or have dirty fingernails, kitchen, and bathroom.
5) Sleep in filthy or disorganized bedrooms that look like war zones.
6) Become addicted to all kinds of drugs and drinks.
7) Cannot forgive offences,
8) Never tell the truth.
9) Constantly have condoms and other sex accoutrements in their pockets or bags.
10) Are unloving and unromantic.
11) Indulge in fornication and adultery.
12) Habitually enjoy pornography and other sex perversions.
13) Always come home late.
14) Are never punctual to attendances and appointments.
15) Engage in lousy or shady ministries, slack in church attendance, or become poor members of churches.
16) Cannot support God’s work with their money.
17) Cannot read their Bibles and pray daily.
18) Come to work late or perform poorly on the job.
19) Lack simple courtesy and basic hygiene.
20) Do not get simple grammar right in any sentence.
21) Never reply to letters or emails and messages.
22) Never return phone calls.
23) Are disorganized, and never finish any job or project they start.
24) Are habitually slow and lazy, or very impulsive.
25) Never complete their homework or assignments.
26) Get poor exam grades, or never able to graduate.
27) Become more “married” to their work and ministry than to their spouses.
28) Do not discipline and train their children.
29) Spend all their time and energy outside the home and neglect their homes and families.
30) Are still not committed Christians, or have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. ETC.
Question: When in history, do these excuses and the ensuing accusations, characteristic arguments, and self-defence, solved our problems and provided us with any development or lasting solutions to problems? The answer is: Never! But we keep wallowing in these till we depart out of this world with Grade D (or at best a C) for our lives when we were destined for A+.
The truth is that God knows the hearts of all of us, and knows our beginning from our end. He wants to deal with us in the same way he dealt with Adam, Moses, Abraham, Gideon, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Mary (mother of Jesus), Peter, and everyone He has had an encounter with. And the Lord is ever ready to help us out of our excuses and weaknesses.
We should simply allow him to speak to us and have willing hearts to obey what He says in order to overcome our weaknesses and live victorious lives.
Negative, Heated Arguments
When words flow irresponsibly, tempers go high, blood pressure shoots up, body language and hand gestures connote pride and downgrading of the other person, eye contact is avoided entirely or made with menacing looks, then we know that this is typical, heated, negative argument. And it can be so bad; very bad indeed to the point of violence and permanent, irreparable damage to minds, bodies, emotions, dreams, and successful relationships plus future success for all parties involved.
Any form of argument that is fraught with contention, insults, threats, abusive language, derogatory remarks, sarcasm, and mockery is a negative one, and will ultimately create fragmentation of any good relationship if not nipped in the bud immediately.
If there are unbridled, miscalculated, and uncontrolled remarks that have competitive, superiority complex, inferiority complex, jealous, or envious undertones, and are veered in the direction of wanting to gain control over the other person, then a negative argument is sowing its destructive seeds for a future harvest of selfishness, disunity, separation, bitterness, mistrust, discouragement, and dissension --- and even marital separation and ultimate divorce. Most negative arguments are characterized by loud noise and raising of voices as a result of anger, pride, self-conceit, domination, frustration, vengeance, and the effort to make yourself be heard or your point accepted.
When arguments become heated under normal circumstances, we find that in most cases the loud person involved in a negative argument tries to silence the less noisy one. If the one succeeds in doing most of the talking, he or she declares himself or herself as the winner. The person who feels victorious after a negative argument goes away with a false sense of satisfaction, while the other party feels defeated, deflated, betrayed, ashamed, abused, and bruised.
Positive, Heated Arguments
I do admit that some positive arguments can sometimes have some loudness and varying degrees of aggressiveness. However, in such instances, when the people involved are mature, sensible, loving, considerate, and sensitive enough to know their boundaries of healthy, decent, and edifying expression, then there will be patience, laughter, jokes, offering of apology, patting of the back, handshakes, and other affirmations that will punctuate the argument and create a very healthy exercise at the end.
An account is given of the argument between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark in the book of acts in the Bible. “Now the contention (between Paul and Barnabas) became so sharp that they parted from one another” (Acts 15: 39). When they parted, each of them still went ahead to continue serving the Lord as best as they knew how.
It teaches us that intense arguments can occur even among the most spiritual and mature, with the Spirit of God still operating, but must be handled in a way that will enable us to still move on to do what we have to do to glorify God. Know that God does not take away your human nature at any time, no matter how spiritual or gifted you are. You must consciously learn to control yourself, and practice till self-control becomes a nature in you. Then people will enjoy relating to you.
It is always said that it is not what happens that really matters, but how you handle what happens is what matters in life.
Winning An Argument And Enjoying Healthy Jokes
Declaring victory at the end of an argument does not necessarily make you the winner, especially if seeds of discord are sown, and disunity results. Why should you win an argument and lose a friend? Some people do not even care to win an argument and lose a nice friend, client, husband, wife, child, parent, in-law, or some other family member.
One major characteristic that distinguishes a positive, healthy argument is the allowance of one party to let the other person also speak while he or she carefully listen to love and respect. It takes two or more humble, good listeners to argue positively and deepen their relationship after the argument. Even if the other person is wrong, you can listen, analyse the fallacy in his or her thinking, and strategize how to relate to the one in order to help the person, and be of maximum benefit to each other.
Sometimes people can even joke with what they say thinking and believing that their relationship with you would not cause you to take them too seriously and be offended. We know that sometimes people can lie about that, and begin to say “I am just joking a when I said that”, only when they begin to realize that their words have started some kind of trouble.
Sometimes too people intentionally make certain statements to see “how you will react” in order to prepare the way to “tell you other things they wish to tell you”, or go further and “do something they have planned to do but are not sure how you would take or interpret it”.
Of course, there can be expensive jokes that all of us need to be careful about. We can discern matters properly and give the best response only when we carefully listen to someone and conclude that it is a serious matter, little matter, useless point, sarcastic comment, and malicious utterance, comment revealing evil intent, simple joke, silly joke, or expensive joke that the one is trying to communicate to us.
Avoiding Unnecessary Arguments By Being A Good Listener
Good listening is very valuable for effective communication. It is one of the major keys to avoid unnecessary argument. Every human being loves the company of a good listener. The love grows when the person pays attention, establishes eye contact, and gives you your desired response. You feel accepted and loved by the person, and enjoy talking more to the one, and going a step further to reveal the deep contents of your heart to his or her listening and loving ears.
Can you give me an example of any person who does not want people to listen to him or her as a source of the person’s enjoyment? None. The normal human tendency is to get personal attention by making yourself and your opinion is known all the time. We are prone to be so ready to talk during conversations and at meetings, such that we usually will not carefully listen to what the other person is saying. We, therefore, lose a lot of valuable words, wisdom, and ideas that God wishes to impart to us through people. It is good to speak to affirm or confirm important opinions you share with someone, as an appropriate and encouraging response. But many times we literally repeat in different words what the other person has already said, and can waste time that could be used to discuss other important matters because we would not listen and simply want to be heard.
In several of such instances, we end up even contradicting ourselves, become poor communicators or bad conversationalists, and cause the discussion to be divergent and diffuse instead focused and goal-oriented. The sad part is that usually, we may not even be aware of being destroyers of effective communication, because we only focus on what we want to say, and do not therefore even listen to what the other person just said, and we, therefore, launch into verbal avalanches that make us feel great in our ignorant and proud minds. This practice causes us to develop a habit of not investigating matters when we hear them before we give our personal opinions and responses. Our judgment then becomes habitually faulty and biased. Nobody would love our company that way, and we would have no friends. Even if we do make a few friends, they will be people who merely tolerate us, have the same non-listening character as we do, or are fake friends whose hearts are not really with us.
The advice of Paul the Apostle to young Timothy contains principles that would save us from strive and arguments:
“But AVOID foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate (breed) strive (quarrels). And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle (kind) to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition (correcting his opponents with gentleness), if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2: 23-26).
Through Paul, God offers kindness, teaching, patience, humility, gentleness, and correction as a package of antidote for those who quarrel and oppose you, particularly through their speech.
How many arguments have you won, but lost a friend or lost love, favour, and blessings in the process? Focus always on winning a friend, and not just winning an argument.
By Rev. Dr. Samuel Kisseadoo.
Professor of Biology. International Evangelist. Relationships, Marriage, and Family Counsellor. Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Incorporated (An Evangelistic and Teaching Christian Organization).
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