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Winning the Battle in Marriage but Losing the War

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There’s an old 80s song called Love is a Battlefield, and some days it feels like that’s true. Okay, I’m joking, but love, and marriage, can sometimes feel like a battlefield. In fact, having a strong marriage can require a lot of the strategic maneuvering required in conflict. Part of that strategy is knowing when winning a battle might cause you to lose the war. But you aren’t at war with your husband. You’re at war with the things that will break you apart. The goal is to have a strong marriage and to show your kids how to have a healthy marriage of their own one day.

With that in mind, if you’re constantly fighting these battles, you could lose the war.

You put your husband in his place.

Your husband has had a rough day. He’s exhausted. He snaps at you and says something hurtful. You can win this battle easily. All you have to do is come right back at him with words that are even more hurtful than his. Or, you can choose diplomacy and remember that you and your husband are allies in this war. You both want the same things—a peaceful home for your family. A safe place where you will be encouraged, not attacked, when you’re feeling down. So instead of zinging him with a taste of his own medicine, you can respond with something like, “I know you’ve had a hard day and I want to be there for you, but I feel hurt and defensive when you talk to me that way.”

You insist on your way, every time.

If you want to win at all costs, in every decision and every battle, no matter how big or small, you will more than likely lose the war of having a loving marriage. Marriage is about compromise, so is where the dishes go in the dishwasher really worth a battle? What about the route you take on your next road trip? Consider what you actually win by showing that your way is the best way.

You need to get the last word.

Walking away when you have just one more thing to say is tough. It feels so good to be the one who has the final say. But is it worth it? Sure, you might win that battle, but you’ve chipped away at the chance to win the war. Keeping your final salvo to yourself takes a lot of maturity and a lot of self-control. If you really think you have to make your point, put it into an email to your husband that you save and then reconsider later before sending. Or, if you think you absolutely must share your thoughts with your husband, wait a day so you can say them without anger.

[10 Things Husbands Want to Hear from Their Wives]

Sometimes, it can seem like you’re the one giving in and sacrificing yourself in battle after battle. If this is the case, seek counsel from a trusted friend on how to move forward in talking with your husband about the “battles won” imbalance. And, yes, choosing your battles wisely will bring some growing pains, but winning the war—having a loving marriage and a stable home for your children—is the ultimate victory.

What do you think of that strategy? What battles do you intentionally lose in your home?


What do you think it means to win the battle but lose the war?

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