A collection of principles I’ve learned recently. If interested in more great truth, check out the book Pursing Peace by Dr. Robert D. Jones.
There is a truth about conflict that often gets overlooked. Most married couples simply refuse to believe it. It is not the presence or absence of conflict that indicates a healthy marriage; it is how a couple responds to conflict that is the mark of a great marriage.
There is a variety of conflict resolution styles. In the home in which I grew up, if the neighbors could not hear you, then you weren’t really arguing! Some couples engage in Cold War-style standoffs or silent treatments. While it is important to understand your preferred conflict resolution style and that of your spouse, I won’t go into depth in this article. Though there are many styles there is only one kind of healthy conflict resolution.
Healthy conflict resolution happens when both the husband and the wife says and does (doesn’t say and doesn’t do) things that move the relationship toward resolution. Name-calling, losing your temper or bringing up past sins is an example of compounding the conflict, moving a couple away from resolution.
Psalm 37:1-11 is an excellent resource for ways to move a conflict toward resolution. Fret not, trust the Lord, be still and refrain from anger.
Whenever I was in high school I took a Driver’s Ed class that was require by our school. In that class, we learned the technical definition of a crash: two vehicles attempting to occupy the same space at the same time. Conflict in marriage is much the same way. It is not wrong to have wants, desires, opinions and ideas. But whenever those wants, desires, opinions and ideas clash with those of your spouse, you have a conflict. James 4 teaches there is a source of sinful behavior and it comes from the heart.
Evaluate your current wants, desires, opinions and ideas. As you do, ask yourself the following questions to determine the source and motivation:
- Does it consume my thoughts?
- Do I sin to get it?
- Do I sin when I don’t get it?
If we will set our heart’s desires on God first, then next on loving our spouse more than ourselves (by dying to self), we will have far fewer conflicts and clashes.
As mentioned, conflict is not a matter of if but when. If you have experienced conflict in your marriage follow this plan of action to pursue peace:
- Recognize the Unhealthy Desire – ask God to search your heart and find any unhealthy desires in your heart that have caused the conflict. When He reveals those to you, attempt to catch them before they rival Jesus as the desire of your heart
- Repent of the Unhealthy Desire – ask God, first to forgive you of your unhealthy desire. Again, our desires are not (necessarily) sinful. However, when they consume us and cause conflict in our marriage then we have sinned not only against our spouse but also our God.
- Refocus on God – the fuel for our unhealthy desires, and ultimately conflict in our marriage, is when we worship anything other than God. If we worship the created instead of the Creator we lose focus on what we were created for and lose the ability to selflessly love our spouse. God alone is worthy of our worship and praise.
- Replace Sin – God calls us to actively replace the sinful desire that caused the conflict. A healthy Christian spouse will uproot the sin of selfish desires and replant the truth of God’s grace, good works of love, and Spirit-generated fruit.
No couple is perfect. Every couple has conflict. May we be couples who pursue peace by resolving conflict in healthy ways.