“Put the Paddle Down”

                Ping Pong is a very interesting and exciting game. To play this game you need a table, a net, lots of ping pong balls and paddles. The object of this game is simple: to win points by making your opponents miss the incoming ball, or for them to hit it out of bounds (beyond the table).

                As a sport or recreational activity, Ping Pong is great, but it is a very poor and detrimental tool for marriage conflict resolution.

                Many years ago, my wife and I played verbal “Ping Pong.” If she would criticize me for anything, I would pick up my “paddle” and return the criticism “ball” back to her. This was only the beginning of our Ping Pong arguing game. The criticisms and attacks would grow stronger and louder, followed by silence, resentment and isolation.

                It was not until we put our paddles down that effective and loving communication began to take place. It was a hard process, but it was worth all the effort, the tears and the pain because at the end we found out that we were now able to talk heart to heart.

                The first ever Ping Pong “players” were Adam and Eve. When they were confronted by God, they blamed each other and even blamed God (Genesis 3:11-13). Since that day, countless couples have played the blame (Ping Pong) game; a game in which there are no winners or champions, only losers.

                A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:1-2).

                Oh, how many divorces could be avoided if we would just learn to speak “softly” to each other! It is better to lose an argument, than to destroy the relationship. Marriages and all other relationships grow in a nurturing and loving environment.

                The reason why many marriages end up in divorce is because they have played a game with no referee. Marriage is not the union of two, but the union of three: Jesus, you and your spouse. If Jesus is the Mediator of your marriage, you can be sure of success. The closer that you and your spouse walk with Jesus, the closer you will be with one another.

                Please put the paddle down! Stop winning arguments and start winning at the game of real love and commitment. Pattern your marriage and all other relationships on the blueprint of 1 Corinthians 13. Speak the truth to each other, but do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).

                Paul admonished us to “…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 timothy 2:23). There is a blessing for those that abandon the paddle: “It is honorable for a man to stop striving…any fool can start a quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).

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