I’ve learned that one of the most helpful concepts in successfully working through conflict in marriage is the Log and Speck Principle.
Conflict is inevitable in marriage. So we need to know what the Bible says about how to resolve it.
There are 3 common responses to conflict: Hiding, Hurling, and Healing.
The Bible calls us to pursue healing in our conflicts. One of the ways we can pursue healing in minor conflicts is to overlook an offense.
However, in more difficult, serious, or offensive situations, or if overlooking is resulting in increased hurt, anger, or fear inside of you, it may be necessary to share the offense, or hurt, with your spouse.
But before you speak the truth in love, you need to get the log out of your own eye.
Look at what Matthew 7:3-5 says:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or, how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
The essence of this verse is not, “just worry about yourself”, but rather, “look at yourself first, then you will be able to see clearly to address your spouse’s issue” .
I want to suggest that you will never successfully resolve any conflict unless you put this principle into practice.
So before you address your spouse’s sin, ask God and your spouse to help you discover what sin you need to confess in the conflict. It’s just a matter of whose sin you address first!
You might be asking, “What if this conflict is all or most my spouse’s fault?” I’ll address this in my next post.
So, first address the issue with God by spending some time praying Psalm 139:23-24 and listening for his answer:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there by any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
If God doesn’t reveal something, then ask your spouse directly. It could sound something like this:
“I know this conflict is dividing us. I’m not ok with that, and I want to do whatever I can to work through this with you. I know I haven’t been perfect, and I’m open to God using you to reveal my areas of sin that I can’t see. Would you be willing to help me see my part in this conflict clearly?
Most spouses will jump at this chance!
Confess to God and your Spouse
As God reveals areas of sin to you (through the Holy Spirit, or through your spouse) confess (admit) to Him as instructed in 1 John 1:9.
But, don’t stop there! There is an added dynamic to the healing process when you confess your sins to each other as explained in James 5:16.
Can I suggest some language to use as you confess to your spouse?
“God has helped me to see how wrong I was when I _______________________? Would you please forgive me?”
- There will be conflict in your marriage (1 Cor 7:28)
- Pursue healing in your conflict by addressing your sin in the conflict before your spouse’s (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Confess your sin to God (1 John 1:9) and your spouse (James 5:16)
Discuss with Spouse
- How can you and your spouse help each other remember and put into practice this Log and Speck principle?
- What situations or types of conflict would make practicing this principle difficult? Discuss what steps you can take in the moment to make it easier.
- Read Matthew 22:37-38 together. When you are tempted to focus on your spouse’s sin before your own, who are you making a decision to love the most? How so?