A friend of mine asked me recently, “How often do you and Star fight?” I responded, “Depends on what you call a fight!”
My friend was concerned that he and his wife were fighting too much. We never really determined if they were or weren’t. And honestly, I don’t think that was the best question to ask. I didn’t primarily need to tell my friend, and don’t need to tell you, how much fighting is too much or try and define what you should classify as a “real” fight.
What I do want to suggest is there WILL be fighting in your marriage. It’s unavoidable. 2 flawed people living together will produce conflict. I promise!
Given that, I do think we need to focus on what I think is a better question for my friend and your marriage, “How can I pursue healing in the fights we have in a way that Glorifies God?”
In my last post I talked about 3 lies we are tempted to believe about conflict and how believing those lies can lead to destructive patterns in your relationship. In the next 3 posts I want to discuss the 3 ways you can pursue healing through your conflict: Overlook, Log and Speck, and Speak the Truth in Love.
The first line of defense in choosing to heal in a conflict is to “Overlook”. Look at what Proverbs 19:11 says:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Overlooking is not…
- Easily offended
- Hiding your hurt or the offense
- Ignoring the hurt or offense
- A willful action or choice
- Making a decision to do something with the offense
- Choosing to forgive in response to how Christ has forgiven you (Col 3:13)
- Moving towards your spouse in active love in spite of the offense.
In choosing to overlook you are making a decision to actively love your spouse without letting the offense stand in the way. You could summarize overlooking as follows:
Overlook = Forgiveness + Active Love
Star and I put each other in positions to practice this principle daily (because we both need lots of overlooking)! Mostly, we overlook very minor offenses or unmet expectations around the house. We forgive, and instead of harboring bitterness, we move towards each other in active love.
For more serious offenses, or if you choose to overlook a minor offense and find yourself experiencing increased hurt, anger, or fear, it is probably a good indication you need to speak the truth in love to your spouse. But, before you do, is it possible you may have done something to influence your spouse’s behavior? We’ll discuss this more next time as we think through, “The Log and Speck Principle”.
Christ is our model for what it looks like to overlook and our only hope for being able to do it. Our offenses towards God would likely outnumber the sand on the seashore. And, God sees them all. Yet, “He does not deal with us according to our sins” (Psalm 103:10). If he did, we’d be in trouble. Instead, as the offended party he made a decision to forgive us through Christ’s death and resurrection and move towards us in active love by sending his Spirit to help us. That’s love! And, he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his love for us (Romans 8:38-39).
That’s what it looks like to overlook.
That’s what it looks like to love.
Discuss With Your Spouse
- Think back to your interactions with each other over the past week. What opportunities did you have to overlook an offense with your spouse?
- Did you overlook? Did you confront? Why or why not?
- Practically, what would it have looked like to overlook the offense and move towards your spouse in active love?
- Read Romans 5:8 together and thank God together for his love and forgiveness.