Every marriage — whether it is challenging or not — is faced with the occasional conflict.
We are all made with our unique personalities that take unique approaches to resolution.
Marriage is a gift from God (Ephesians 5:31), and should be handled as the treasure it is; with care, love, and respect.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, we know the Bible to be the foundation for how we live our lives, and that includes how we approach marital conflict.
So, how do we use this knowledge to live at peace with our other half?
Marriage and family therapist, Teri Reisser, writing for Focus on the Family has seen her fair share of marital conflict, and notes some conflicts that she has seen married couples unable to resolve as such:
* He feels that their children should be home-schooled, but she embraces public education.
* She wants to spend every Thanksgiving with her extended family, but he finds their conversations loud and boring.
* If some unexpected money comes their way, he wants to spend it, while she wants to save it.
* She likes music in church played by a worship band, but he wants to sing from a hymnal, accompanied by a pipe organ.
While some of these may not be an area of trouble for you and your spouse, they are just as real to the conflicted couples as your current woes.
Truth is, there is an endless list of possible areas that you and your spouse just can’t agree on, but always one answer; to seek out the Father’s will for your lives as He has laid out in His Word.
Dr. John Gottman has researched the intricacies of marriage, and estimates that “nearly 70 percent of all marital conflicts are what he calls ‘perpetual’ and essentially unresolvable,” reports Focus on the Family.
Does this mean that most marriages are doomed to fail?
Most certainly not! It’s a common misconception that two people have to agree on everything, and that they need to think and act identical to be compatible. Gender, personality, and experience give us our individual tendencies and preferences. And that’s okay!
1 Peter 4:10-11 reads:
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
The difference between those that make the marriage work with disagreements, and those that let it tear them apart is respecting those differences. Build each other up, support each other’s endeavors, and know when you need to humble yourself and when to stand your ground.
If perpetual disagreements aren’t handled, they will surely be the demise of your marriage, or the happiness within it. But how do we do that when neither party seems to want to budge?
Compromise may seem out of the question with recurring disagreements, not wanting to give up something they feel defines them or their values. Pride can get into the way when both spouses feel their respect is on the line as well.
Dr. Reisser advises:
“Remember that the vast majority of marital disagreements involve differences of opinion rather than do-or-die moral issues. It is quite all right to agree to disagree on these.”
Don’t try convince your spouse to feel the same as you on an issue. We know from the Word that when we seek the Father and his righteousness, all things work out for the good (Romans 8:28).
Instead, listen to your spouse’s viewpoint without judgement, letting them know you have heard and understand their concerns. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:18 that “the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” When we take the time to hear out our spouse, and respond to the conflict with a soft word, the argument is bound to take a turn in the right direction.
Try to stop the conversation when disagreements arise and go to God in prayer about it. Be sincere in your time with the Father, praying that His will be done, not that your own personal agenda be met.
Lastly, find win-win solutions to the argument if you both can’t get past a conflict. For example, switch off every other weekend from going to the parent’s house for Sunday brunch to attending a baseball game as a family.
Or, allot a certain amount of money out of every paycheck for each spouse to spend on what they find fun or important, without judgement or criticism.
Whatever the disagreement is there is a creative compromise or change of heart that can come from adamant prayer and respect for each other’s differences.
It is revealed through the Scripture that we are to uplift our spouses, and hold them in high regard (Ephesians 5:22-33). We can honor the Father when we follow His instructions for our marriage, all while having a more happy union in the process.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have any creative ways that you resolve disagreements, or how you use Scripture to find peace in your marriage.