Do You Really Want To Stop Quarreling?


"It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel."Proverbs 20:3

Our home might be different from yours, but I often witness conversations similar to this:

"But you SAID I could have it!""No, I said you could TOUCH it, not HAVE it!" "But you SAID I could have it!" "No, I didn't!" "Yes, you did!" "Nuh uh"

Etcetera. Etcetera.

I'd like to roll my eyes and dismiss my children's tactics as immature or childish, yet I see similar approaches in "grown up" disagreements.  While adults switch  up the "nuh uh" and "No you didn't!" vocabulary more,  other markers still appear.

See if you recognize any of these.

Power play

One person has more than another and leverages their advantage to win concessions.

If there is something to be gained, then the stronger party wins the point. Even when this tactic plays out with goldfish crackers, it ain't pretty. One may win a prize, but it comes with a boatload of resentment.

Empty promises

When one person says they'll give you something that you were either going to get anyway, or that holds no real value, this is an empty promise. ("I'll give you my broccoli instead of the pink Starburst!")

Most people recognize when someone offers  them"sleeves off a vest."

Crossing fingers

Perhaps crossing your fingers to make all promises null and void only works on the playground, but the concept of ignoring the "spirit of the law" and only living by the letter of the law feels strangely similar.

Crossing your fingers is the most infuriating tactic of the bunch.  Even 8-year-old boys shouldn't be allowed to use these shenanigans! (Roddy White take note!)

Cancel a promise on a technicality

Like the example above, skipping out on a promise because of a foot-fault seems unreasonable and fodder for playground games. My kids love to back off a promise because of a slight deviation. They pull this trick so much, I always wonder why it surprises the person on the receiving end. Classic grade school behavior.

So why is this tactic (and all of the other approaches listed) popular between adults?

Most fights are caused because someone wants something and they aren't getting their way. Every other tension flows from this single fact.

If a solution is available, it's going to be because someone decides the fight isn't worth the effort; because they are willing to let someone else have their way.

I try and remember this whenever I get into a disagreement.  I  ask myself, do I want to win more than I want to stop quarreling?

My answer is sobering and not always what I'd like to admit, but it's a valuable question nonetheless.