Marriage 101: Resolving Conflict in a Biblical WayBiblical Living . Biblical Marriage . Family . Popular Posts
I decided to continue with my advice to my daughter’s on how to have a successful marriage. I mentioned in my last post how I really would have loved a few more wise people speaking into my early years of marriage. Jeremy and I have been married now for almost 27 years. In these later years of marriage, we have had the honored to counsel other couples in marriage. Today, I am going to share what we have learned that is contrary to what we were told in our pre-marriage counseling. Today, we are going to discuss conflict resolution.
When Jeremy and I were engaged the pastor who did our pre-marriage counsel told us, like so many other pastors, that we should not go to bed angry at each other. The verse he used to emphasis this teaching was Ephesians 4:26.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”
There is a similar verse in Psalms 4:4
“Be angry, yet do not sin; on your bed, search your heart and be still.”
The pastor told us this verse meant we should never go to bed upset with the other, and no matter what we should resolve any conflict before we go to sleep. About ten years ago, I realized that though this pastor meant well, this verse did not actually say what he told us. In fact, there are a lot more verses that teach that we should have self control, and be calm when dealing with a disagreement, then there are verses about resolving a conflict before going to bed. I was reading the book of Ephesians, and I got to this verse, and realized it had nothing to do with marriage, and it also said nothing about resolving a conflict before going to bed at night. In fact, what it says is, I need to get my emotions and attitude in check before I go to bed at night.
Anger is a feeling. My spouse does not have control of my feelings, only I do. So, regardless, of whether my husband and I were seeing eye to eye, I could choose to have self control, and calm myself and go to sleep. In the early years of my marriage, I would often be so angry about something, and I would want my husband to discuss it all night with me, and he would sometimes fall asleep. I would lay awake and just fume that he feel asleep. I would get so exhausted that I would cry myself to sleep, and then the next day I would be more exhausted, more irrational, and more angry. You see how that works. I never resolved anything. My husband never really understood what I was trying to say to him, and the cycle just continued.
All because I thought Ephesians 4:4 said, I was suppose to resolve all conflicts before the sun goes down. But, the verse isn’t even about marriage. It also isn’t about resolving conflict. The verse is about getting your emotions under control.
If you want to communicate well with your spouse, or anyone else, you need to control your temper. If you want your spouse to listen to you, respect you, hear you, and respond to you in love, then you need to be slow to anger, eager to listen, and quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with people using this verse to encourage couples to quickly resolve conflict. In fact, I would say, conflicts should be resolved as soon as possible. But, before we try and solve a problem, we must put on the fruit of the spirit. In fact, let’s take a few more verses from the book of Ephesians and apply them to marriage conflict and resolution.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
We need to resolve conflict with humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, love, persevering the unity.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
We need to resolve conflict without unwholesome words, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, or malice.
We should resolve conflict with kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness.
In Ephesians 5:23-33, we actually have marriage instruction clearly given.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30because we are members of His body. 31FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
If we want to have a good solid marriage, we must submit our will to Yehovah, and trust Him. Wives, must submit to their husband, and husbands must love their wives.
These are just a few passages I pulled out of the book of Ephesians. I love the book of Ephesians, it can be applied to many aspects of our lives.
Over the years, I have had to learn and relearn that being angry is an emotion that I am responsible for. There is no sin in anger, but the way I deal with anger is a sin. Cain got so angry, it lead him into sin and murder of his own brother. If I am angry, it is not the time to try and resolve a conflict. I should put the anger aside, and then approach my husband with the conflict.
Here are a few more verses that make it clear that we should set aside our emotions and feelings before attempting conflict resolution.
1 Corinthians 13
There are many more verses, especially in the book of Proverbs, about dealing with ones anger before dealing with a conflict. If you struggle with anger and self control, I recommend copying the book of Proverbs. I actually have a book that helps with copying the book of Proverbs. You can buy it from my friend at her store, FoundationsPress.com.
I don’t know about all women, but for me, learning that I need to calm myself down, and go to sleep, before I discuss a serious issue with my husband, has made my life better, and my marriage stronger. I find that trying to talk to my husband when he is tired, and I am emotional never really brings about the lasting results I was hoping for. But, going to my husband and asking to speak to him when I am calm and have my thoughts in order, has strengthened our marriage, and helped us understand each other better. We can share our hopes, dreams, goals, failures, and fears with each other, and strengthen each other to mature in our relationship with God and others.
A few practical tips:
Before talking to your husband about something, pray about it.
Before talking to your husband about something, check your motives.
Before talking to your husband about something, plan ahead. If you want to have a serious discussion and no distractions, then make sure you set aside a time and place to do that.
Give your husband a heads up if you need to talk with him, don’t catch him off guard, it will most likely overwhelm him.
Don’t expect everything to be fixed in one conversation. Your husband might need to think about what you brought to him. Give him time to get back to you.
If your husband needs time, let him know your going to ask him for a response in a day or two, and then ask him.
No matter what, place your trust in Yehovah that He is in charge and cares for you.
Written by Katie
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