Is conflict wreaking havoc in your marriage? Do you feel distant from your spouse and wonder if you’ll ever feel close again? Do you long for resolution to the points of contention in your marriage? True closeness and companionship can seem elusive, but let’s literally work through the word CONFLICT in hopes that by FAITH you can move towards your spouse rather than drifting away.
You may be wondering where to start. How about we start with confession?
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”James 5:16
Confession reveals our willingness to acknowledge our own sin and reminds us that we are to forgive others the way the Lord forgives us. You may have no part in the wrongdoing that is creating conflict in your marriage, but if you are harboring resentment you’ll never move in the direction of oneness. You have placed the roadblock of contempt (regarding someone as inferior) and you are the only one who can choose to remove it. We not only confess our shortcomings to the Lord, but in humility we are to approach one another and confess our sin.
Just imagine if you and your spouse could approach each other in this way. We are sure the barriers that impede any type of intimacy will begin to fall so you can work through conflict together.
O- Own your part
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”I John 1:8
Isn’t it interesting that it can be so difficult to see the ugliness of our own heart. Self-righteousness has overtaken the hearts of many individuals like untamed weeds in a garden. Our own rebellion and pride have blinded us in such a way that no matter what practical or biblical wisdom is shared, we won’t own our part.
What if you and your spouse after confession were willing to own any wrong action that you were guilty of? Grace abounds when we humble ourselves before the Lord and our spouse.
N- Name the problem
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”James 4:1
Let’s not tiptoe around the conflict or avoid the obvious. If there is an offense, name the problem. Once you name it don’t look for a way to deflect from what needs to be addressed. Our human nature is to either attack or avoid when we are confronted. Resist the temptation to find fault in your spouse or simply leave the conversation thinking that it will go away. Name the issue and work through it. Speak the truth in love to one another knowing that many times it’s our passions at war within us that create such blow ups in conflict.
We have no doubt that if you can name the problem, you are well on your way to living at peace with your spouse.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”Mark 11:25
Lord, have mercy on us when we simply can’t bring ourselves to forgive our spouse. Forgiveness stands at the door front of resolution. All too often we’d rather open the door to bitterness which only causes a devastating deterioration of our own heart. Approach the Lord humbly while releasing to Him those distasteful feelings of resentment. Ask the Lord to soften your heart that you might be willing to forgive. We mean really forgive so as the gospel of Mark states, “So that your Father in heaven may forgive you.”
It’s a powerful visual when we get to see a couple embrace physically in an act of offering and receiving forgiveness.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”I John 4:7-8
“I love you!” Few phrases can mean as much as that one. Remember when you and your spouse where dating? Most couples don’t exchange those words after the first date. In fact, we reserve that until we have cultivated depth of relationship. We use those words when we want to let someone know that they have high value and are deeply regarded. We probably remember the first time our spouse said, “I love you!” Those words expressed what is felt and what we are choosing. We celebrate that love on our wedding day. We exchange vows through our spoken words committing to a lifetime of love. Conflict can quickly spiral downward causing a couple to question that love and commitment. We’ll never truly love until we have experienced God’s love. God’s unconditional love in our life overflows in powerful ways, and the first recipient of that love should be our spouse.
Go ahead and text, call, or go to your spouse in person and tell them, “I love you! I’ve always loved you! My love for you with God’s help will never change. Knowing that, let’s work to bring resolution to our conflict.”
I- Invite your spouse’s thoughts and words
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”James 1:19
One-sided conflict never ends with resolution. It typically ends with two people walking away in frustration and the feeling of being shut down, misunderstood, and unappreciated. Approach conflict in your marriage prioritizing an invitation to speak. Take time to listen and invite your spouse to speak and express their thoughts and feelings. Hear each other out by being quick to listen to them and make sure you understand what is being said. Think prayerfully and slowly about your own words, and don’t let your anger overwhelm you.
Companionship involves two people who feel free to express themselves to one another and work through conflict together. Cultivating an openness to express each other’s feelings and thoughts even when opposing views are at play is what will draw you closer together as a couple.
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”Ephesians 5:29
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."Romans 12:10
There is great care taken in anything entrusted to us that has great value. Many factors influence the value we place on things. Factors like, who gave it to us, how much is it worth, how many of these exist, how long have we desired to have it, and the list goes on. We cherish those things that have great value to us, are irreplaceable, are what we’ve always wanted, and given to us by someone special. Let’s consider our spouse. They are much more valuable than any “thing”, and yet we often struggle to cherish them the way we should. We should see our spouse as a gift given to us directly from God.
Be intentional about identifying practical ways you can express to your spouse the ways you cherish them. Cherishing your spouse is a way to diffuse the blow up of conflict and work towards resolution.
“But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”Luke 8:46
Physical touch is a powerful thing! In marriage it is both sexual and non-sexual. While sexual touch is an exciting thing in marriage; we should make sure to express nonsexual touch toward one another. When unresolved conflict is present the last thing you want to do is touch. Touch is a way to come towards your spouse letting them know that even though there is a disagreement you are both committed to the healing process. A hug, holding hands, or a soft caress all communicate tenderness of heart and humility.
This isn’t the place to expand on this, but it is important to note that it is never acceptable for touch to be hurtful or abusive to the other person. It should never be forced or imposed on our spouse.
When we are willing to Confess, Own our part, Name the problem, Forgive, Love unconditionally, Invite the other to speak, and Cherish one another, it leads to a Touch of heaven as you embrace and let each other know there is nothing you can’t get through together. Work through CONFLICT as you navigate conflict in your marriage.