Sometimes a husband thinks that he needs to blow off some steam and let his wife know that she is wrong about some matter.
Likewise, a wife might feel that she has to set the record straight by straightening out her husband. According to the Bible, blowing off steam is a bad idea, and the Bible uses a different metaphor to illustrate why it’s a bad idea.
The book of Proverbs says, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14). According to this piece of biblical wisdom, an argument is like urinating. Once you start, you can’t easily stop. So don’t start arguing. The book of Proverbs contains numerous admonitions along similar lines. The fool must speak his mind. His argument comes bursting out of him. He cannot contain his words. Like a man who desperately has to urinate, he can’t hold it in, and once he starts quarreling, he can’t stop.
The new book from First Fruits of Zion, Adam Loves Eve, explains that a husband should avoid an argument with his spouse, even if it means letting a wrong idea go unchallenged. The Proverbs say that a wise man remains silent. He lets a matter drop. He overlooks an insult and ignores a slight. He does not attempt to correct someone who will not accept correction. He avoids strife. His lips create the fruit of peace and righteousness.
Arguments usually start over small things that, in the larger scheme of things, are inconsequential. Once the argument starts, the human ego inflates the significance of the point of disagreement. Suddenly it’s all-important. Emotional reactions cloud all sense of perspective. All at once nothing could be more important to a husband or a wife than proving that his or her spouse is wrong about this issue over which they are disagreeing—suddenly it’s the most important thing.
In reality, once an argument starts, neither you nor your spouse are arguing about the actual point of disagreement. Instead, you have engaged in a war of egos. In such a war, there are no winners, only losers. The holy apostle and brother of our Master says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1). In an argument, the point of disagreement becomes only an excuse to vent the warring passions within you.
An argument between a husband and wife entails more than a simple disagreement between two dispassionate, rational parties. The domestic argument inevitably ignites anger in both husband and wife, and anger is a real problem. Anger short-circuits logic in the brain. Blood pressure rises, thoughts become clouded, and cutting words fly like arrows.
James, the brother of the Master, warns us, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). A man thinks he can use his anger as a tool to accomplish some higher objective, but James says that anger can never “produce the righteousness of God.” That means that whatever outcome a man does achieve through his anger, it falls short of righteousness. For this reason alone we should be eager to root all anger out of our lives, especially out of our marriages. Nothing good results from anger.
The rabbis compare anger to idolatry because an angry man denies God’s providence. He becomes angry when his will and desire are challenged, thereby denying God’s will and God’s desire. Paul lists “fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions” as the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-20), and he warns us that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). In another passage Paul warns that anger gives “opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). A little further on he states that “wrath and anger and clamor” all “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30-31).
How much is that argument worth to you? Does winning the argument and convincing your spouse justify denying God’s providence, engaging in the works of the flesh, giving opportunity to the devil, grieving the Holy Spirit, and forfeiting the kingdom of heaven? Before you start the argument, remember, just like urinating, once the quarrel starts, it’s hard to stop.
For more biblical insights into shalom bayit (peace in the home), check out the new book from First Fruits of Zion, Adam Loves Eve at adamloveseve.org.