This post is adapted by Glen Solberg from a post by Ashley Wheelon. See link at bottom of this post. Conflict is normal in marriage. All you have to do is be married for 24 hours or less to understand the truth of that statement.
The problem with most couples in conflict is that we are trying to “win”. We want to get our point across. We want to make sure we are heard. We want to have the last word. We want to persuade our spouse that we are right and they are not.
However, the relational cost of this kind of conflict is high. One spouse wins and one loses. But it's really the marriage that loses. As the saying goes, we may have “won the battle, but we have lost the war.”
My wife and I had a recent conflict where my attitude was “I'm going to win”. Well, I did have the last word in the conversation, but there was an icy silence in our relationship afterward. I had to go to her and apologize later to thaw this icy silence. So much for “winning”!
I believe God, Who created and defined marriage, has given steps you and I can take in conflict that will help us “win”, while not gouging us with the high relational cost to our marriages. There are 5 simple yet challenging things we can do that can help develop a win-win for our marriage. Ashley Wheelon shares more on these below:
(1) Shut up. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6
The Bible says that the tongue is like a small spark that can set an entire forest ablaze. This small part of the body has the power to destroy relationships with the ones we love. When we’re angry, it’s better to be quiet rather than wound our spouse with our words.
(2) Listen. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
Instead of being quick to defend ourselves, James says we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Listening to your spouse lets them know you care more about what they have to say than you do about being right.
(3) Acknowledge what your spouse is experiencing. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:24b-26
As the body of Christ, we suffer together and we rejoice together as Paul shares in the verses above. This is even more true when the person suffering or rejoicing is your spouse. When you got married, you became one flesh. This means you share your spouse’s hurts and frustrations, even when you’re the one causing them.
(4) Stop attacking the person and attack the problem. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29, 32
It’s tempting to think of disagreements pitting you against your spouse in battle. But when you remember that you’re both fighting a common enemy, you realize you’re actually teammates. We are to be as quick to forgive our teammates as the Lord is to forgive us as Paul shared in verses above. Forgiving your spouse strengthens your marriage so you can fight better together.
(5) Don’t worry about resolving the disagreement. Instead, work to understand your spouse’s point of view. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:15-18
You may be right. You might actually be the winner of this fight. But what do you win? And how far will that get you in your marriage? You’ll still have disagreements in the future and if all you’re worried about is winning, you’ll lose your relationship along the way. What’s more important is that you understand your spouse and can better encourage him or her next time.
So there you have it. Five steps so that your marriage gets the win, which is a much better outcome in the long run than you getting the win.
Although these may seem counter-intuitive, if you are a Christ-follower, God has given you the ability to humble yourself and think of your spouse's needs before your own needs. Read Philippians 2:3-4 or James 4:6. God has given you the ability to work through conflict with your spouse as you humble yourself and allow God's grace to pour into the situation.
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE: The next time you are in conflict with your spouse, start by silently praying a simple prayer such as, “Lord, help me to humble myself now and truly seek to understand my spouse. I need Your help and grace, Lord. In Jesus' Name”. Then begin to humbly work through the steps above. I believe the Lord hears and will respond to your truly humble prayer and bring His supernatural grace into your conflict and marriage! And that supernatural grace is what we all need! LINK TO ORIGINAL POST BY ASHLEY WHEELON: https://newspring.cc/articles/5-ways-to-win-every-fight-with-your-spouse
Adapted by Glen Solberg, Marriage Revolution, 2018. All Rights Reserved. If you have questions or suggestions, you can connect with us via our Contact Us page.