Star and I have been married for 18 years. The first 2 years of our marriage we fought. A lot! What’s worse is we didn’t know how to fight.
Star was a “Hurler”. She could talk circles around me in an argument (and still can to this day – but I’m getting better!). In our conflicts, my thoughts and emotions would be internally spinning out of control. So much so, that in an effort to keep the peace I would just agree with whatever she said and give her a hug.
I was a “Hider”. I really believed this method of resolving conflict was better. But it was just as bad as Star’s. In fact, my repeated tendency to flee and ignore the conflict between us significantly contributed to us getting separated and contemplating divorce just 2 short years into our marriage.
Although it wasn’t right for me to ignore the problems between us, it was understandable based on some lies I believed about conflict:
- Good marriages don’t fight – Although there is some truth to this statement, I thought more conflict automatically equaled a bad marriage, so I avoided it.
- Ignoring conflict is the “Christian” thing to do – “Turn the other cheek”, “Love covers over a multitude of sins”, etc…
- Conflict is unproductive– I didn’t believe any good could be accomplished through conflict.
Fortunately for you and me, we can look to God’s word to replace these lies with truth. Instead of “Hiding” or “Hurling” we can pursue “Healing” in the midst of our conflict. Notice how the following truths are in direct opposition to the lies above.
- Marriage will be a fight – Ok. A little exaggerated, I admit. But, look at what 1 Cor 7:28 says, “…Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles…” Think about it, when one flawed person is married to another flawed person, there are guaranteed problems ahead. Fights will happen. If they don’t, I question the level of intimacy in your marriage.
- Conflict is to be faced – Don’t hide. Don’t hurl. Heal! (Matthew 5:23-24 and Galatians 6:1) How do you pursue healing? For now, consider how practicing the following 3 options would have impacted a recent “fight” you had with your spouse. (I’ll discuss each of these in more detail in my next post).
- Log and speck principle (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Overlook a way your spouse has hurt you (Proverbs 19:11)
- Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 and 1 Corinthians 13).
- Conflict is an opportunity to Glorify God – This is where it gets exciting. In any conflict you ever have with your spouse there is a 100% chance there will be sin on both sides. So, with EVERY conflict in your marriage you will ALWAYS have an opportunity to confess (to God and your spouse) AND forgive. Would you agree that these 2 acts are glorifying to God? Yes! The goal of conflict isn’t to win or come out ahead with less sin to confess then your spouse. The goal of any conflict is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31, Col 3:17).
So, would you fight for your marriage by facing the conflict you’re in all for the glory of God?
I’m so thankful that Christ practiced this with us 2000 years ago in the midst of the greatest conflict – our rebellion against Him. He fought for us sacrificially. And, He faced and dealt with the conflict between us once and for all at the cross by forgiving our past, present, and future sins so that God would be glorified. And, keep in mind Christ did this as the offended party. Thank you Jesus!
Discuss with your spouse:
Do you have a tendency to Hide or Hurl?
What are some of your beliefs about conflict (positive and negative) and how have they affected the way you deal with conflict?
How does knowing that God (as the offended party) pursued you to the point of death in the midst of your conflict with him impact your willingness to do the same with your spouse?