Marriage Conflict – The Source
Marriage conflict is a normal part of married life. When two people come together in marriage, conflict is bound to happen. Each person has had different life experience, and undoubtedly, has different expectations of marriage and from his/her spouse. Therefore, each one is going to react differently to life’s challenges.
Marriage Conflict – The Response
Whenever two or more people come together, the chance of marriage conflict is bound to increase. Marital conflicts are not bad in themselves. It is our response to the conflicts that can be either helpful or harmful. Marital conflict can be the challenge to help us grow into more mature persons and a more mature relationship or it can destroy our marriages. Perhaps God is using the particular quirks of our spouse as sandpaper to polish the rough edges off our own characters.
You might be surprised to learn the Bible discusses this. In the book of James it says to be happy when the way is rough because then our patience has a chance to grow. When our patience grows, it shows that we are mature (James 1:1-4). It shows that love really dwells within us. The nature of true love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not touchy. It does not hold grudges and hardly even notices when others do it wrong (1 Corinthians 13).
We see what is really within us when our spouse “pushes our buttons.” Will we erupt in anger? Will we be rude? Will we demand he/she do it our way? Will we allow marital conflicts to rule our lives? Will we implement techniques to create better communication? Even though our spouse may be wrong in what he/she says or does, our response shows who we really are on the inside. We have a choice. We can react in a constructive way or we can react in a negative way, parading our anger, our sense of injustice, and our wounded pride.
Marriage Conflict – Examples
We don’t have to look far to see examples of marriage conflict. Conflict can range from a minor disagreement over what to have for dinner tonight to the extreme of abuse.
It’s often easy to get into a pity party and to feel wronged or self-righteous when a marital conflict occurs. There have been times in my own marriage where I truly felt that I had given all that I could give and that it was his turn to change. I found through counseling and prayer that my heart and my motives were often far from right or noble and that I was very wrong in my attitudes and reactions to my husband. I’ve learned that my husband has much to say and it is often very correct.
There is an example in the Bible of a woman who had every reason to be angry with her husband, to be rude, to berate him, but she did not. She chose to be a peacemaker instead. Her name was Abigail and her husband’s name was Nabal. The story is found in 1 Samuel 25. Nabal did a foolish thing. He insulted David’s men and railed at them when David was in need of help. David was very angry and intended to kill Nabal and all his men. Abigail, rather than being angry at her husband and berate him for his stupidity, for having put all of them in mortal danger, acted in a constructive way and saved their lives!
A modern example of an Abigail attitude is that of a young couple where the husband left the church they were raised in and were married in, to go into the occult. Even though it tore at the heart of the young wife she did not let it escalate into out of control marital conflicts. She was patient with him and kind. Rather than criticize, ridicule and nag him about his choice, which would surely have driven them apart, she chose to continue to respond to him in love. Because of her attitude toward him, in time he saw the wrongness of his choice and returned to the church.