Verbal Knife Fights

Knife Fight

This week I find myself mulling over the factors that influence men’s and women’s decisions to argue. And not just argue, but tear each other apart. It’s all around me. It’s an epidemic.

We end up feeling sliced, diced, and boiled like rice. It’s an event that can leave strong people in shock, shaking, wondering what just happened.

It’s disrespectful, it’s ugly, and it’s abusive. Yet it’s so easy to get sucked into. I’m bothered as to why even those of us who hate it are tempted to engage. It’s almost like our human nature salivates for it.

We become fanged, defensive creatures driven by an ugly primal instinct. We are like angry five year-olds with machetes. We indulge our temptations and release all of our caged anger onto someone who may not even be the cause of it.

Dark clouds roll in. An energy we don’t even understand courses through us. We have been challenged. We part-flesh, part-spirit amphibians transform into slithering dragons with steel scales cascading down our beings.

We breathe fire. We give ourselves over to the very fury that our Creator warns us to stay away from. We have become desensitized to the fear that seeps into every pore, every neuron. We feel the burn, but rage on, afraid of being found fallible.

We are addicted to the rush. Slaves to the rhythm of the drama. Scorpions with stinging words that tear each other down instead of building each other up. We rip ourselves apart in the process. Our hearts become colorless concrete wrapped with razor wire.

Sometimes the answers to ending a conflict are so simple, but each person wants to be right. Each person wants to be in control. We cast aside the art of compromise and focus solely on ourselves.

Life’s too short for this. We only get one lifetime in which to marry, to love, to share our whole self with someone. What a privilege, and yet emotions can flare up and burn time we can never get back.

The past week I’ve been on a Peter Gabriel kick. And it occurred to me that some of those simple answers I’m looking for are right there in the songs I’ve been listening to.

Normally I don’t tell people to go looking for answers in pop culture. I won’t tell anyone to go find the solution to the mystery of life in a Spice Girls song (we already know it’s the number 42 or Cheetos—right?).

I’m not endorsing this artist’s lifestyle or views or anything contrary to Christian values. I just think a lot of his music’s deep, and there can be comfort in that.


“That Voice Again”:

The lyrics address how we want closeness but we’re afraid of what’s going to happen if we go for it:

I want you close I want you near
I can’t help but listen
But I don’t want to hear
Hear that voice again


“Come Talk To Me”:

This song is key. Sometimes we just need to talk. Not yell, not fight. Talk. Like adults. And it can be hard to start talking. There can be a lingering coldness that makes it difficult. These are the parts of the lyrics that I’m finding relevant right now:

Whatever fear invents,
I swear it make no sense
I reach out through the border fence
Come down, come talk to me

In the swirling curling storm of desire
Unuttered words hold fast
With reptile tongue the lightning lashes
Towers built to last
Darkness creeps in like a thief
And offers no relief
Why are you shaking like a leaf?
Come on, come talk to me

Ah please talk to me
Won’t you please talk to me
We can unlock this misery
Come on, come talk to me

I did not come to steal
This all is so unreal
Can’t you show me how you feel
Come on, come talk to me

Come talk to me, come talk to me

You lie there with your eyes half closed,
Like there’s no one there at all
There’s a tension pulling on your face
Come on, come talk to me

Won’t you please talk to me
If you’d just talk to me
Unblock this misery
If you’d only talk to me
Don’t you ever change your mind
Now your future’s so defined
And you act so deaf so blind
Come on, come talk to me
Come talk to me, come talk to me

I can imagine the moment
Breaking out through the silence
All the things that we both might say
And the heart it will not be denied
‘Til we’re both on the same damn side
All the barriers blown away


“Book of Love”:

To me, the meaning of this song is that there’s an idea of love, but love should be personalized, meaningful, adapted to a couple’s particular situation. Selfless. Giving.

But I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings


“Don’t Give Up”:

Whatever the songwriter’s intent– reportedly it was written about unemployment– this song reminds me that couples should never give up. Pride, malice, stubbornness, and all that garbage—why do we hang onto it instead of holding our partner close? Don’t give up. And—editor’s note—God can help get you through anything.

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Don’t give up
‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good


“In Your Eyes”:

Any kid who grew up in the ’80s knows this song. And they’ll know what I mean when I say I still want to be the girl whose guy shows up outside her window with a boom box hoisted over his head that’s playing this.

Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes


So, you may not want to hear that voice again. The voice that tears you down, stabs you over and over, and makes you feel like you’d be better off alone. But—talk. Don’t yell, don’t fight—talk. It can be the beginning of wonderful things if you just take that step.

Love each other in ways that are meaningful to each person. Simply being with that person may mean more to them than any material gift you could possibly give them. Maybe they need to hear your admiration, your encouragement.

And don’t give up. If God brought you together, then don’t let anyone or anything rip you apart. God has spent a lifetime thus far preparing a partner for us, and yet we may reject them. Don’t throw away that gift. Don’t let dumb people and the dark side interfere. You’re stronger than that.

Remember who you are—or were, if things have gone that far south—in your partner’s eyes. Certainly there was something wondrous and magnificent about them that had you begging for more. Despite the one or two nagging issues that threaten to destroy your relationship, make a list, if you have to, to remember all of their good attributes.

Remind yourself why you fell head over heels for them in the first place, and the amazement and confusion you felt when you realized someone gawked over you as an unmatchable soul mate. You didn’t feel you deserved them, but love isn’t about what we deserve. It’s a gift.

Thanks for joining me where I’m at today.

Go Peter.


A soul mate is someone who has the ability to bring out the best in us. Soul mates are not perfect, but perfect for us. –John Gray

©2010 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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