Part 1 of a 2-Part Resolving Marital Conflict SeriesNo matter how much you may want to ignore it, conflict is common to all marriages. Consider the fact that you start with two selfish people, from different backgrounds, personalities and perspectives. Add to this a few habits and quirks, and a multitude of expectations. Then turn up the heat with the grind and challenges of daily living. Guess what? You are going to disagree with your spouse about something. It’s unavoidable. Since every marriage faces conflict, it isn’t a matter of avoiding it, but knowing how to deal with the issues when they arise. Conflict in marriage can lead to growth or isolation. You and your partner must decide how you will respond when conflict arises.
Accepting and Accommodating Differences
Have you ever wondered why opposite people find themselves in the same home? Why are people drawn to someone whose traits are opposite of their own? A task-oriented person marries a socially-driven person. Someone punctual marries another who struggles to be on time. A good rule to remember is that the talker needs to do more listening and the listener needs to do more talking.
When you married, your spouse brought a variety, spice, a different focus to your life that wasn’t there before. In marriage, we put ourselves in a position to learn, grow, and appreciate a different way of responding. Refusing to change means that the differences that should create a more effective team end up becoming a wedge that pushes spouses apart. You may find that your backgrounds and personalities are so different that you wonder how and why God put you together in the first place. It is important to understand these differences, and then accept and accommodate or adjust to them. Adam accepted God’s gift of Eve, you are called to accept God’s gift to you. Is it possible that your spouse completes you in ways you haven’t understood or accepted yet?
Is it possible to say that all marital conflict begins with selfishness? When a couple starts dating, each person is generally wrapped up in how the relationship serves his or her own interests. “I like what you do for me.” “I like the way you make me feel.” “When I am with you I am happy.” “I feel validated by you.” Often marriage can become the ultimate in narcissistic expression. The reason you got married was because of what he/she did for you. But then you get these two people together and something has to give. Couples who are able to make the transition from me-centered thinking to where the husband and wife realize they can’t be so selfish are the marriages that make it. Unfortunately, the opposite also applies.
Marriage offers a tremendous opportunity to do something about our selfishness. My wife and I have seen the Bible’s plan work in our lives and in our daily interactions. We have not changed each other, but God has changed both of us. The answer for changing selfishness is found in Jesus and his teachings. He showed us that if we want to be first, we must be willing to be last. Instead of wanting to be served, we must be willing to serve. Instead of trying to save our lives we must lose them. We must love our neighbors (our spouses) as much as we love ourselves. In other words, if we want to eliminate selfishness we must give up your will to Christ and then find it possible to give up your will for your spouse.
Accepting Responsibility & Avoiding the Blame Game
When there is conflict between you and your spouse, first understand and determine your part in the conflict. Is it your attitude, defensiveness, tone of voice, actions, or your choice of words contributing to the conflict? Begin by sincerely confessing your contribution to the conflict before considering your mate’s faults. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the speck out of your brother’s eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 5:3,5). Honesty is the quickest way to resolve any conflict. When you humbly acknowledge your own faults, your spouse doesn’t have to convince you where you need to change. It is hypocritical to point your finger at your spouse when personal change will go a long way to resolving the conflict.
Christian Counseling for Marital Conflict
Conflict in marriage is common, but not everyone finds healthy resolutions to marital conflict. Christian counseling offers married couples a great venue for figuring out effective methods to resolve their conflicts. With the help of a Christian counselor, you and your spouse can learn not only how to solve a disagreement, but how to use your conflict to strengthen your love.
From Freedigitalphotos.net “Young Couple Cuddling” by imagerymajestic, “Couple Lying In Bed After Argument” by Ambro
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