Fight the Good Fight

by Brenton Shephard on June 12, 2024

If you’ve been around Bay Life for a little while you may know me already, but for those of you who don’t, allow me to tell you a bit about myself. I’ve been married to my wife, Amanda, for almost twelve years and we have two beautiful children, Cohen (9) and Emma (6). I’ve been a pastor at Bay Life for almost thirteen years now, and have served as the Care and Counseling Pastor for the past eight-plus years. During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with couples in different stages of their marriages. One thing I have noticed in almost every situation is that it can become very easy for both people to become hyper-focused on problems or concerns they’re currently facing or have struggled with. This causes them to lose sight of the bigger picture in their marriage, from the journey they started, the commitments they made, and the love they have for one another.

Marriage Journey

Have you ever stopped to think about how you got to where you’re at right now in your marriage? Whether you’re recently married and feel like everything is going well, or find yourselves struggling through a challenging season, this is an important question to think about. It’s easy to go through life and forget about the journey that you’ve been on together as a couple up to this point. So if you can take a few moments, I want you to think about something with me. How many of you like a good story? Whether that story is being presented in the form of a movie, book, or TV show, there are three pieces that every good story has in common: a catchy introduction that brings our characters together, a climax or problem that needs to be solved, and a conclusion that brings resolution.

Our lives and marriages are like a story when we stop and think about them. If you’ve put your faith in Christ, we believe that God is the author of this story and not only did He bring it all together, but we see in Ephesians 5:21-33 that He’s designed it to work as well. As sinners, we aren’t perfect and make mistakes along the way. Sometimes, those mistakes create problems, and no matter the size, they can add up eventually causing friction in your marriage. However, if you stay centered on Christ, it’s easier to work together toward a resolution. 

In every great story, when the characters arrive at the climax, they’re left with two choices; retreat and surrender/give up, or regroup and strategize to take on the problem. I’m sure, some of you reading this blog are facing this same choice. While it’s important to understand that we have a greater decision to focus on when it comes to working together with our spouses, there are smaller moments along the way, that often lead to larger issues.


In many cases, these small moments of disagreement can lead to larger issues when not handled properly. Usually, when it comes to marriages, this is referred to as a “fight.” Personally, I don’t like using the term fight, because there is so much negative connotation to it. When I think about fighting, I think about a boxing match or MMA. In these combat sports, one of the two people is going to be declared the winner, but in many cases, both parties walk away extremely beat up and hurt. Our marriages should in no way look like a “fight” and if you read that passage in Ephesians that I shared earlier it starts with a very direct statement, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Everything in our marriage, including our disagreements should be viewed through the lens of our reverence to Christ. If it’s not, that’s the first issue we need to address.


Let’s start there. What does a reverence for Christ look like in your life? I’d challenge you to answer that question, but also make an evaluation. If you’re spending time more focused on yourself and the goals, accomplishments, and ideas that you have for your life, it’s probably not centered on Christ. When we’re connected to the right source, we bear the fruit, or evidence in our lives of what we’re connected to. Therefore, our connection to Christ through time in the Word and prayerful relationship would produce evidence spoken of in Scripture (Galatians 5:22-23). That in turn pours out in the way we treat our spouse, which is further discussed in Ephesians 5 when it talks about submission, sacrifice, love, and respect.

Disagreements, Not Fights

This better understanding of how our relationship with Christ dictates the way I treat my spouse directly ties to the way we work through disagreements. The fact is that two people, no matter how much they have in common or share ideals, are going to disagree, but there is no reason that our disagreements should lead us to a place where we are verbally assaulting, belittling, or berating our spouse because we don’t agree. It’s in these moments of disagreement that we prayerfully go before the Lord and ask Him for wisdom in navigating our conversations. If you’re frustrated, take a moment to catch your breath and cool down. When you mess up and say something you know you shouldn’t have, be quick to apologize. Not just saying “I’m sorry,” but telling your spouse why you’re sorry and how you know what you did or said hurt them. On the flip side, when our spouse does this, we need to also offer forgiveness. When we do these things more consistently, we begin to pull down our guards and realize we both want what’s best, we simply need to figure out how to get there together.

That leads us to the conversations that we have. When we don’t agree, it’s always good for each person to have the opportunity to say why they think or feel how they do. This doesn’t mean it’s time to blame, it means that it’s time to share how we think, what we’re worried about, or maybe, what we’re hoping for down the road. When one person does this, that is the time for the other person to listen. And I don’t mean listen with a pen and paper handy to write down all the things you want to rebuttal. To actually listen to your spouse and repeat back what you hear them saying. When that’s done, give the other person the opportunity to do the same. Once you’ve done that if you still are struggling to be on the same page, write out what you each feel are the pros and cons of each other's ideas. Again, this is not a time for personal attacks, it’s a time to voice concerns and open our minds to listen to their point of view as well. And while I can’t guarantee this will solve all your issues, I can promise it’ll be a great place to start. 

Sometimes we need to remember when it comes to our marriages that we are on the same team. We aren’t fighting against each other to get our way. We’re working together, making sacrifices, and all through the lens of reverence for Christ. He sacrificed everything for us. That is the perfect picture of love. The type of love displayed for all of us to see. The type of love that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 when he said, 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Lastly, if you’re struggling in this area and don’t feel like you can do it alone, reach out for help. Get connected with a counselor who can help you work through your disagreements and allow you to come back to the place where you saw yourselves when you started your relationship. We have an amazing team at the Bay Life Counseling Center that would love to help, don't hesitate to reach out to us at 813.319.0183. I hope that you’re making the choice, regardless of where your marriage is now, to regroup and strategize as you walk through your journey hand in hand.

Bonus Work

I mentioned before, that it’s easy to lose sight of where we’ve been up to this point as a couple. As you answer these questions, you are going to need to write the answers out on your own and then come together to share your answers. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions either. It’s not a time to judge, debate, or justify your responses. This is a time to share with each other, to listen, and to take to heart the bigger picture of your marriage.

  • When you first met your spouse, what made you want to know them more? Be honest.
  • What were some of the special things about them that made you stay around them?
  • What were some of the traits that made you fall in love? Bonus question: Do you remember the first time you told them you loved them? If you do, share that.
  • Over the time you’ve been married (dating doesn’t count), when was your relationship at its best?
  • When do you feel like your marriage started to get hard? This isn’t a time to point out flaws, it’s an opportunity to think through the situations in life that brought difficulties.
  • What, if anything, is currently pushing you apart or causing struggles?
  • What have you really tried to make your marriage better? Please note, this should be something you truly put the effort into, not that we saw a counselor or pastor once or twice, but the things you did to make sacrifices and show how you want things to be better.
  • What do you need to do now?

Tags: love, counseling, marriage, communication, disagreements

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