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Not long after we were wed, my wife, Sue, and I had a terrible fight. Providentially, what could have destroyed our marriage ended up strengthening it.

Sue and I were getting ready to attend a church party that we had been looking forward to for some time. I drew the water for my bath and then stepped into our bedroom to get some clean clothing. While I was gone, my pretty little wife decided she would play a joke on me. She slipped into the bathroom, locked the door, and took a bath in the water I had drawn.

When Sue had finished bathing, she went into the bedroom to dress, and I headed to the bathroom to take my bath. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Sue had not drained the water she had bathed in. I suggested to her that, since she had taken a bath in my water, she should drain it and draw me some fresh water. Sue was in a playful mood. She giggled and said, “Oh, I wasn’t very dirty. Just take a bath in my water.”

I saw no humor in her remark and responded in a gruff, demanding voice, “No way. Now get yourself in here and draw me some fresh bath water.”

Sue flashed her prettiest smile and teased me. “I really wasn’t very dirty. Go ahead and use my water.”

Without really meaning to threaten her, I said, “If you don’t get yourself in here and draw me some fresh bath water, I’ll throw you in the tub, clothes and all.”

Sue’s smile faded, and she said, “You wouldn’t dare do that to me . . . would you?”

Sensing that I was being challenged, I responded by restating what now really did become a threat, “If you don’t draw me some fresh bath water, I will. I’ll throw you in, clothes and all!”

Shocked, Sue said, her voice rising, “You wouldn’t dare do that!”

“I’m not kidding!” I shouted as I headed toward her, picked her up, and carried her into the bathroom.

As I held Sue over the tub, I thought to myself, “I love this dear lady, and I really don’t want to drop her in this water.” Looking for a way out without damaging my pride, once again I asked her if she would draw me some fresh bath water.

She looked me in the eye and said, in what seemed to me a defiant tone, “No way!”

So I did a very foolish thing. I dropped her, clothes and all, into the tub.

Sue came up wet and angry.

Then I said some things I shouldn’t have said, and Sue withdrew. She didn’t speak to me for four days. And she didn’t do any cooking or cleaning. My selfishness and bad temper almost cost me my marriage!

This incident happened more than 35 years ago. It was our last fight. We chose not to argue again.

Don’t misunderstand. Our opinions differ at times, but we don’t fight about them. We’ve learned a better way. We’ve learned to allow some give and take, to be considerate, patient, loving, kind, and gentle with each other. We’ve also learned to compromise. We love each other so much that we don’t want to hurt each other. So we discipline ourselves to do and say only those things that will build up the other’s self-esteem.

We have learned that spouses can avoid fights by

  • loving enough to sacrifice for each other.
  • learning to discuss differences calmly. (Don’t shout!)
  • learning to compromise.
  • learning to be unselfish. (You don’t always have to be right or to have your own way.)
  • asking God for His help. (We asked, and He helped.)

Thirty-five years without an argument or fight. It’s a great way to live!

Joe Seay writes from Greenbrier, Arkansas.

Our Last Argument

by Joe Seay
From the April 2006 Signs