It’s too easy to fight against your spouse. God calls us to fight for them instead. Focus on the Family’s Dr. Greg Smalley says conflicts in his life and marriage intensify when he feels like a failure.

“That’s where Satan hooks me…when I feel like I’ve made a mistake, like I failed. And that’s been there for many years. I think I’m less sensitive to that now, and I handle that a little bit better. But I get still get hooked by that one in weird ways.”

What are some buttons or triggers men have?

Feeling disrespected

Feeling controlled

Feeling helpless or powerless

What are some buttons or triggers for women?

Feeling worthless

Feeling devalued

Feeling unimportant

Feeling rejected or abandoned

Greg shares that we can look into our past to see where these buttons originate. “They came from lies that have been written on our heart. For me, somewhere along the line, Satan just was able to write ‘You are a failure. You’ll never measure up.’”

As someone with a father who is well-known in Christian ministry, Greg admits this can happen when someone compares him to his father (Gary Smalley Sr.). This happens from time to time at Greg’s own ministry events.

“If someone will come up and say ‘Hey, you know, tell your dad hi. I love him; he’s done such great ministry!’ And there’s times I’m just standing there going, ‘I’m in ministry too…’ That’s my stuff; that is not about them. But Satan has used that kind of as this ‘You’ll never measure up; you’ll never be as good as he was’ [ploy]. Simple stuff like that has hooked me over the years and that plays out in my marriage.”

Greg suggests sitting down and doing some self-reflection on what triggers you to anger or fear. When armed with that information, we’re better equipped to handle disagreements with our spouse. He shares more in his book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage: How Healthy Conflict Can Take You to Deeper Levels of Intimacy.

Key Scriptures: Ephesians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 7:28; Matthew 19:6

Highlight : Identify your triggers

Fight for your marriage

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