My husband and I don’t exactly “fight” in the normal sense. I think it’s because we’re both introspective types. In 5 years of marriage, we’ve never yelled at each other or whatever a fight consists of. We’re not above it, so it may happen, but it’s not our natural temperament, and I’m okay with that.
However, during these past 5 years there has been no shortage of conflict: hurt feelings, questionable comments, entitlement and passive-aggressiveness along the way… particularly on my end.
It’s hard. I don’t like it. But God has worked in my life as a result. Marriage has a way of dredging up the deep inner sins unlike anything else I’ve encountered. But once they’re exposed, and repented, the result is freedom.
Here are some things I believe God has shown me about conflict in marriage along the way. Most of these points have to do with ME and MY HEART. I’ve found that when I am responding to conflict in a manner that’s pleasing to God, other things have a way of working themselves out.
- Know personality types and love languages. Wow, was this eye opening for us. We did a personality profile through our church that is similar to the one described here. Knowing the strengths and pitfalls of each others’ temperaments gave us understanding, grace and patience for one another. The same goes for love languages. You can take an online test to discover yours here. Again, this built understanding between us. We appreciated acts of love differently and knew how to better express love to one another.
- Be self aware. Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you off emotionally? Hormonal? If so, it’s probably not a good time to engage in conflict. Let the issue rest until your needs are met and you’re prayed up and centered on Christ.
- Know the dance: Quick, Slow, Slow. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
- Related to that, step away from the situation and pray. Hold your tongue until you’ve brought your frustration and anger before God. Let Him speak to you and convict you. Some time in His presence may reveal a selfishness and sinfulness to the words in your heart. This is His grace. It allows you to alter your course of action before damaging the relationship. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:27.
- Be willing to humble yourself and not have it your way. There are times when everyone can’t be right and no one is budging. So, “wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.” If you do this, I believe God will reward you in ways we can’t see or understand today, but it will be way better than forcing your interests now. Phillipians 2:3-4, Matthew 5:9, Ephesians 5:22
- Be willing to feel as if you’ve sacrificed. Ultimately, emotions are tricky and things might not truly be as you perceive them. This is the case with me often, as I tend to be a bit dramatic. The goal is godliness and peace. Holiness, not happiness. It’s not me getting my way to which I feel entitled. It’s a higher calling.
- Forgive and let it go. Don’t bring up the past. Don’t keep a mental register of concessions you’ve made. Don’t over-dramatize yourself as the martyr (which is easy for me to do) and become self-righteous. Move forward in humility and love. Colossians 3:12-14
Post also linked up with Faith Filled Fridays at MissionalWomen.com.