Pastor Mark Driscoll of Trinity Church in Arizona has shared six tips on how to have a "godly" fight with your spouse in a blog post on marriage alongside his wife, Grace.
Driscoll and his wife, who have been married for 25 years, first say that the key to having "a good fight that ends in reconciliation rather than a bad fight that ends in bitterness" is to learn to fight as friends - not as enemies. The Driscolls then lay out six specific ways couples can do this.
First, you must decide if your spouse has committed a sin. If the answer is "yes", you have to prayerfully decide whether or not you are going to say something.
"We can become so frustrated with the sin of our spouses that we deal with the right issue in the wrong way or at the wrong time, which can only make matters worse," the couple advises.
Second, you must decide how want to deal with the conflict: "Knowing how you and your spouse respond to conflict will help you know how to lovingly engage each other when frustrated," they write.
Third, don't fight while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and fourth, ask God to be in the midst of your fight and ask for help attacking the problem - not the person.
Fifth, it's important not to use fighting with your spouse as your "release valve or lightning rod."
"A release valve is something that relieves pressure from the stresses of life," the couple explains. "A lightning rod is a person you choose to just listen to you, thereby grounding out the storm of fury in your life so that no one gets hurt...If life has you frustrated, you will be tempted to use a good fight with your spouse as your release valve or lightning rod. Do not do this. Find something else to do to relieve your stress productively, and a godly friend of the same gender to listen and ground out your storms, especially storms with your spouse."
Finally, the Driscolls say if it's impossible to come to an agreement, individuals must "ask whether or not the issue is really worth holding their ground on, or if in love with a clear conscience they can defer to their spouses."
"And, if they think the issue is important enough to retain their contrary position, they need to seek outside authority," they advise. "The couple needs to agree on a godly authority (for example, a pastor or biblical counselor) to whom they will each present their case, allowing that mediator to make a decision for them that they will then submit to."
Mark Driscoll is currently conducting a sermon series on "Real Marriage: 6 Keys to Unlocking All of Your Relationships, Including Your Marriage." In 2012, he and his wife published a book on marriage titled Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together.
In an earlier blog post, the Driscolls emphasized the importance of forgiveness in a marriage as a reflection of Christ's love for His people.
"When we sin against our spouses, we cause them to suffer. When we sin, we are supposed to apologize, ask forgiveness, and try to make things right," they wrote in the post.
"When we are sinned against, we need to forgive quickly. Jesus' words on this are haunting: 'Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.' We cannot simply ask God to forgive our sins; we must also extend that same forgiveness to others," they added.
Ultimately, forgiveness is a "gospel issue."
"No one has been more wounded, grieved, hurt, betrayed, and mistreated more than God. Furthermore, we each have contributed to the pain that God experiences, as all sin is ultimately against God. This means that God could be the most embittered person," the couple pointed out.
"Instead, He came as Jesus and took our place to suffer for our sins, pronouncing forgiveness from the cross."