Let's begin this very clearly...
I hate conflict.
Part of me thinks this is something about me I was simply born with, while another part of me thinks the temperamental home I grew up in has a large hand in it. I vividly remembering cowering in a corner with my favorite stuffed animal and my Precious Moments Bible at a very early age anytime I sensed tension between my parents. To be honest, the fear that my future husband and I would become like my parents in those moments was one of the primary reasons I declared as a teenager I would never, ever, get married.
Somehow, by the grace of God, I didn't miss out on the gift of marriage despite my fear and stubborn heart. The conflict I feared however, still creeps in somedays. It doesn't matter how much you love your spouse or how committed to your union you are, bad days still come. Unfortunately I believe they always will until we're on the other side of this life and finally Home.
Because though we pray for our marriage & seek to follow hard after God at the end of the day we are still 2 sinners who commited forever to each other and continue to slip back into the old ways of life and fail each other. Hurtful words. Snappy tones. Blame Game.
So we face the fact-conflict is going to happen. But I do believe we have some choices in it. We can choose how we respond to it, how we act in the midst of it, and even which fights to fight and which ones to skip over. Here's a small list of some things I've learned so far...
1) Some conflict isn't avoidable, but some is. So avoid it.
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. -Proverbs 21:19
We didn't marry perfect spouses, which is good because our spouses didn't marry perfect spouses either. So stop expecting them to be something they simply aren't. I will never forget the time I learned this lesson the hard way. Mr is awfully forgetful at times and one day I had really gotten fed up with having to repeat myself so many times, and I snapped something fierce. It was silly and later on I apologized and it seemed no real damage was done. However the next day something much bigger than forgetting things came up and I brought that to his attention to on how he needed to change something. I will never forget how broken he looked when he humbly asked me...do you even love me for me or for who you are trying to make me into, because I can't do anything right. It left me dumbfounded and so hurt that day that I had made my husband feel that way for a second. I approached which battles to fight a lot differently that day.
2) Keep your marriage in the Word-TOGETHER.
"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them." -Matthew 18:19-20
Daily time with God is crucial for any believer. It's true for couples as well. If we want our marriages to be hidden in Christ we must go to Him together for that before we expect to receive that. Now let me say this gently, I'm thinking of some women who may be reading this who's husbands are not believers, or who are not interested in daily Bible study on their own let alone with you. My heart is so tender towards you. God has placed you in a unique position and your biggest weapon for victory will be prayer that God will open that door for your marriage and soften your husbands heart to that aspect of marriage. Sometimes you may feel like you aren't free to bring that subject up yet, but if you feel like easing into the topic maybe you could suggest a good couples devotional book that has good structure that wouldn't make your husband feel pressured to come up with some big "lesson" or "sermon". All I know is that this crucial part of marriage makes a huge difference in your marriage. How do I know? When Mr and I have been super busy and neglected that part of our relationship for a few days, the "little fires" start coming out in each of us. You know-less patience, grace, kindness towards each other, and more hateful words, tense moments, and annoying tendencies. Why does that happen? We've started trying to do marriage on our own again and in our own strength again, which never works.
3) Be on your guard.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8
Think about your home and belongings. When you leave your house, or even still at home, do you just leave the doors unlocked and wide open to see if anyone thinks you may not be home and come inside to take what they'd like? No. You protect what is valuable to you. The same is true for your marriage. Guard it and protect it with all you've got long before you see anything coming. This can include anything as big as sexual or emotional affairs, as well as simple things like conflict. I can always tell when the Mr. and I are about to get ourselves into a really bad "blow-up of a fight" when we've skipped Bible study frequently which has led to smaller issues arising and those smaller issues are becoming slightly bigger and more frequent-and worse...we haven't dealt with them. When "small" issues come up or a tone was used that was less than loving make it right immediately. Don't go on and think you'll make that better later. Satan will take an inch and make a mile out of it. Don't let him.
4) Even in conflict-remember who you are.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patinece. -Colossians 3:12
A bad argument, no matter who's fault does not put a "pause" button on who we are called to be in Christ. We are still His chosen people who are holy and dearly loved and who are still called to live, speak and act out of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can have conflict in Godly marriages without trashing our spouse. For instance, try your best to avoid words like "always" or "never". They're probably exaggerated anyways and they turn a single situation into the entire definition of your spouse. It's not fair. Fighting with unfair words also takes the attention off fixing the conflict and onto all the terrible things being said. The times Mr. and I have done this we have literally sometimes stopped hours into the argument and said in total exhaustion and frustration...I don't even know what we're fighting about anymore. This is such a scheme of Satan that is so easy to fall into. But you don't have to.
5) Set some ground rules.
Before it arises, talk about conflict to your spouse. How do you each want to handle it when it does come. For me, it bothers me and makes me very anxious when Mr. raises his voice in an argument. When I finally told him that, things clicked for him. He realized why I would quickly shut down in the middle of an argument. He apologized and committed to working on it. And you know what? He really doesn't raise his voice in conflict anymore. On the rare case he has he has stopped himself immediately and quickly said, I'm sorry I didn't mean to raise my voice. There are even moments now where I don't think he's raised his voice at all but he has stopped himself mid argument and said, I'm sorry if I got louder there. Making an agreement to stop and pray together during an argument is also a great idea. Whatever solutions you come up with, just make sure you talk about conflict before it even arises.
6) Feelings lie to us.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. -Jeremiah 17:9
The mushy gushy feelings for your spouse are not going to be there 24/7. They just aren't. And that's ok. I have found myself in many times asking God to restore the feelings of love and affection for my husband. Don't get me wrong, I have never stopped loving him. But I have stopped feeling love towards him. Don't be afraid of that or think you married the wrong person, that's another plan Sa
Linking up with: Kendra, & Nan, Darlene, Jacinda,
Kathy, Put a Bird on It