By Mark Verkler
Over the years I have learned some of the essential pieces of reconciling after a fight. The first thing I want to go through is how humility is going to lead the way for reconciliation. There’s a verse that I use in counseling often in Matthew 5. It says, agree with your adversary quickly, while you’re on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge, hand you over to the officer, and you’ll be thrown into prison.
A big part of reconciliation after a fight is for one or ideally both of you to own your part in the conflict. This brings humility and integrity into the equation. If it’s consistently the same person that’s always leading with humility, then there’s something missing and almost certainly something that needs to be addressed. Ideally, the person that ought to be leading is the one who was more wrong in the conflict, but if even one person will lead with humility, it can make all the difference.
Remember that the language of apology is key when we’re working through conflict in a marriage or relationship. The language of apology we learned years ago, is five R’s: regret, “I’m sorry”, responsibility, “I was wrong”, repentance, which is more like a plan of repentance, or restitution. If you run over your neighbor’s shrubs, don’t just say you’re sorry; you need to buy him some new shrubs. So sometimes restitution is a perfect apology. The fifth one is a request, “will you forgive me?” We need to learn that language of apology. What do you most appreciate for your spouse to say? How do you most appreciate them apologizing? Learn it and then teach that to your spouse also.
First agree with your adversary quickly. Whatever I can own that I was really wrong I must own, and then move into apology. One of the keys to reconciliation is that you retain your integrity, only own what you honestly can own. Sometimes one person is trying to get the other to own something that’s not really theirs. That’s where we have this attack of integrity, and if that integrity gets attacked too much, that’s where you need a counselor or a pastor or someone to help you with that.
We already talked about using the apology language that works best for your spouse as we explore that with each other. Some additional things to look into are that you might need to overcome any long term issues that either of you have individually with holding grudges, or forgiving. What was it like in your family of origin? What was your foundation with forgiveness or not forgiving or holding grudges or not? A key part of reconciliation is to get to that place of forgiving.
Give your spouse time to own their part. Don’t demand it immediately. I may have apologize to my wife and she may take some time, because she’s still hurting or grieving or upset or vice versa. So don’t push it. Don’t hurry it or demand it right now. “Well, I apologized. Why haven’t you apologized?” You have to give it some time. If they don’t apologize after a reasonable time, that’s when you bring it up. That’s when you talk about it. And to be honest, if your spouse consistently doesn’t own their part, you probably need some outside help to get that integrity back in the relationship.
This is an overview of the Getting through the process of reconciliation after a dispute or after a fight. Of course, our end goals is to get to forgiveness and blessing your spouse again.