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The One Phrase that Stops (almost) Every Fight in Our Marriage

Marriage is hard. It is so wonderful, but it is also challenging. Partly because you are as open and vulnerable with your spouse as you have ever been or ever will be, and that leaves you open to getting hurt. Here is one phrase that stops just about every fight that starts in our marriage.

Our marriage is pretty normal.

Let me preface this marriage advice with this tidbit: We are relatively normal. We have piles of laundry where there shouldn’t be, dishes pile up more often than I would like to admit. We have three kids in elementary school and one married son.

We both work from home, which is sometimes great and sometimes not. Our house needs repairs, and we have medical bills we’re working on paying. All that to say, we’re not armchair quarterbacks. Life is crazy and messy and wonderful and hard.

Lack of love is not the problem.

I love my husband; I love him more than I have ever loved another human being, but sometimes he drives me crazy, and he might not ever say it, but I know I can drive him crazy too.

Sometimes what causes strife between us can start so simple.

Me: Hey, can you help with the dishes?

Him: Sure.

Me: Why did you say “Sure” like that.

Him: Why did you ask me that way, like I don’t help enough?

The marriage crazy train

Then off we go. I feel overworked and unappreciated, he is feeling the same, and we finally get the kids down, and instead of using the precious time to fill each other back up, we are frustrated and still picking at each other. Sometimes this goes on for a while before one or the other of us (usually my husband) says the phrase that causes us both to reconsider the point of the fight.

The thing is at the core; we love each other. We don’t want to fight. We want to make each other’s lives better, not more difficult. But the reality is we both are human and have a tendency to be selfish and put our own needs above each others. The thing that brings us back from the brink is this phrase.

“We are on the same team.”

Yep. It’s that simple. “We are on the same team.” We want to work towards growth and health for our marriage and family. We want to honor the Lord and each other in both word and deed.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14.”

One of my favorite scriptures right now is this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14.”

Speech is powerful. Often, one of us must say “we are on the same team” out loud to get us off the crazy train. However, another crucial piece to the puzzle is our thoughts.

Our internal thoughts affect our marriage.

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Have you been letting negative thoughts about your spouse creep in unchecked? These things grow and often bubble up for me in snarky comments or loud sighs.

The best way to prevent fights before they even begin is to watch your thoughts. As the mind thinks, so the heart feels, and on and on it goes until our mouth is uttering things we wish we hadn’t. We end up hurting the one we most want to protect.

You can best protect and love your spouse by keeping your thoughts. When an argument erupts, “we are on the same team” reminds both of us that we are in it together and there is no more extraordinary gift on this earth than to have a partner to walk through life.

Is this marriage magic?

Now let me be clear. These words aren’t magic. They only work if both parties are ready to take a moment to do the arduous work of thinking the best, not the worst, of the other. They only work of both parties are ready to look inward and take responsibility, instead of outward to cast blame.

We have a saying in our house. It takes two to fight. Even if you didn’t start the fight, you still have part of the responsibility for your adverse reactions that caused the conflict to escalate. In other words, no one is innocent. Even if you are only responsible for 1% of the fight, you have an opportunity to own your 1%, and this is your best bet to invite your spouse to do the same.

You may do your part. It may not be reciprocated. But still — do your part.

Practice makes progress.

So, go practice thinking excellent thoughts about your spouse, and keep this phrase at the ready to bring out in case of emergency, “We are on the same team.”

And don’t just say it — remember that it’s true. Remember the bride or groom of your youth. The one you married, the one you chose above all others.

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