“You process faster than I do. You talk faster than I do. And if you want to “win”—you’re on a roll. But if you want the best solution Deb, one we can both fully support, we need to slow this conversation down and really listen to one another.”
It was a moment. Do I want to win? Or do I want the best solution? My solution IS the best one, therefore, I win!
Good thing my husband, Ron, can’t hear my inside voice. But God can—and His Spirit promptly thunked me upside the head. Ouch!
Marital conflict is bound to happen in our home. We are two very different personalities, raised in opposite camps, and we’ve never been shy about expressing our opinions. We often experience intense moments of fellowship when all that stuff collides. But after 40 years, we’ve learned a thing or two. And God has led that parade of discovery.
And discovery can be an outcome of conflict – when it’s handled well. It can lead to “Wow, I didn’t know you felt that way.” Or, “Huh, I never looked at it like that before.” Genuine agreement (not weary capitulation) is possible, along with increased connection and intimacy.
After all, conflict is not the problem. It’s the way we deal with the problem that determines where it takes us.
When it’s handled poorly, without rules, tools, and scriptural foundations, damage will almost certainly be your final destination. You may win the argument at hand, but sacrifice the life of your marriage. Bit by ugly bit.
Marriage requires a merged existence, which requires carving out space (which already sounds like it could be a bit painful) if we are to enjoy the supernatural life of unity to which God calls us. It’s about yielding, giving way, opening up our hearts and minds to one another. It’s not easy which is why we often struggle.
But it is possible to channel those differences into the strength of your marriage. Two heads, two hearts, one mission: to honor God and one another in your union. Marriage is, after all, a mirror of Christ and the church. When our marriages reflect the love and sacrifice that is only possible through our relationship with Him—the world notices. Our life together as husband and wife can draw people to the Savior.
And don’t misunderstand; we haven’t arrived at a perfect record. We sometimes slip back into bad behavior. But there are two principles or truths to which we submit. The first is: If you have to fight, fight fair. And the second is even more essential: be clear about who the enemy is—and isn’t.
So if you’re sick and tired of the futility of fighting the same battles the same way, leaving you exhausted and broken, we encourage you to put on the gloves and take on the real enemy – and it’s not your spouse. It’s time to commit to healthy conflict and discover tools to fight together in a way that is aligned with scripture, honoring our union and our God. It is possible to develop a relationship of genuine understanding and intimacy, but it can occur only when Christ is our banner and love is our battle plan.
All’s fair in love and war may sound like a good idea when you need permission to go all in and let the feathers fly. But ask yourself: Can I really afford that trip? Leaving behind kindness, love, and the instruction to live like Jesus?
So if winning is your goal, be prepared to experience brief euphoria, followed by loss of connection with the one you pledged to be one with. Never forget: if there’s a winner, there’s a loser. Do you want to be married to a loser? I didn’t think so.
Looking for help on dealing with conflict in your relationship? Our new book (c0-authored by my husband Ron) releases today, June 21. You can find it online at Christian Books and Amazon. Leave a comment here today for a chance at a free copy of this book!