Marriage Chronicles: Extinguishing Heated Fellowship
Heated fellowship. I wish I could say it's a term I coined but I'm so sad to inform you that I didn't. I first heard it from one of Prophetess Juanita Bynum's sermons (when she was married, now currently divorced). She was sharing a story of how she and her former husband would have frequent moments of "heated fellowship," or in other words, frequent arguments. I fell in love with this concept!
The term fellowship means companionship, friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests. Well, throw some fire in it and in my own definition it becomes heated companionship in a non friendly manner where these individuals become disinterested in one another's interests. In other words, you really can't stand one another in that moment!
Lets face it, marriage can be down right difficult. "Becoming one" is such a mystery wrapped in beauty and brokenness. Lord knows I love and am in love with my husband, Brian. I also know he feels the same for me, but we have been challenged to love one another despite our shortcomings.
Our disagreements have cranked up the heat in our fellowship on numerous occasions. This "heat" definitely changed the temperature and tone in our home. I have found these "heated battles" like our gas stove top in our lovely kitchen. Just like the stove you have the ability to adjust the heat when necessary. The low heat, though still hot, is used to simmer but if you want something to boil, its time to “turn up!”
What I have discovered in our many disagreements is we actually have the ability to influence each other’s temperature. We both know each other’s “hot buttons.” When we fail to "be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19) we know Jesus has left the building!
The polarity of “becoming one” is obviously dissension. When we don’t “walk in the spirit,” (Galatians 6:16) another spirit comes walking in! A “house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25).” Brian and I would be the first to admit, we are not a seasoned married couple, but we have learned quickly the feelings of love is not enough to hold a marriage together. Instead, it’s our commitment to God and one another. That’s the real supernatural glue.
Through our experience, I want to offer some ways we have found helpful to extinguish our heated fellowship and strengthen the glue that holds us together:
1. You are responsible for your own temperature gauge. Although we have the ability to influence one another’s temperature we are ultimately responsible for our actions. Brian is not responsible for my responses and vice versa. We can’t “make” each other do anything we don’t want to do, including responding immaturely or acting “out of our flesh.” Each individual must learn to control our actions. This starts with self-control and how we will choose to respond to the situation.
2. Stay focused on the real issue. It’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of what was done in the past. Remember love “doesn’t keep a record of wrong” (1 Corinthians 13:5). I am not saying you shouldn’t be aware of repetitive annoying patterns, but when you know your spouse has acknowledged their wrong and is desiring change, offer them grace and stay focused on the issue at hand.
3. Walk it off or talk it out? How heated is the fellowship? Sometimes it's perfectly wise to take a break and go cool off. If either party feels they are getting out of control emotionally, then go walk it off. Just make sure you both revisit later to talk it out and find a resolution.
4. Actively listen. Many of our disagreements develop because one party has failed to listen to the other. It’s because the focus is on getting a point across versus actually resolving the problem. Listen beyond what your spouse is trying to communicate. Many of Brian’s frustrations formulate when he feels he’s not being heard. I misinterpret and get an attitude. He interprets this as disrespectful. I become frustrated at times when I feel he’s not “hearing my feelings.” He wants me to spell it out to him, but many times I don’t even know how I”m feeling. I can be a big ole’ pile of an emotional mess in which I’m coming to him to help me sort it out. This skill will take some time, but as you get to know one another you will be able to decipher the real issue and emotion behind it all. This comes from actively listening to one another.
5. Pray in the heat of battle. Believe it or not there are breaks in moments of heated fellowship. There are moments when you’re trying to gather your thoughts. There have been plenty of times I’ve found myself praying quietly within while Brian is giving me his spill on the situation. This may sound unrealistic in the moment, especially when my previous point was about actively listening, but praying during heated fellowship has helped me/us tremendously! When I feel the heat turning up in my emotions, I’m praying, “Lord, please help me not to get out of control. Don’t let me be disrespectful. Lord, please don’t let me go off on this man!” (Lol) It sounds funny, but those have been real moments and praying has been a lifesaver in our past heated fellowships.
If you’re married, soon to be married, or desiring marriage in the future I hope you have found these ways helpful. Remember, heated fellowship is inevitable but lean on God through those moments. Don’t be afraid to seek additional resources such as marriage ministries, books, seminars, mentors, and counseling. These tools can help you understand how to navigate through tough times in your marriage.
Also, implement what works best for your marriage. What works for us may not work for your relationship. Find out what works best, agree to it, and put it to action!
Most of all FORGIVE. Marriage was designed and created by God bringing two imperfect willing parties (man and woman) to ultimately be an example of Christ’s unconditional love towards us. Although it is requires a lot work and energy, it is equally rewarding on so many levels!
When temperatures flare, extinguish it in God’s strength by implementing some practical ways to help your marriage grow stronger. You’ll be so glad you did!
Dr. Estrelita Bruce, Owner of A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly
Wedding Photos by: Tiffany Cintron
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