Believe it or not, a certain amount of conflict is necessary to help couples weed out problems that can harm a marriage in the long run. Fighting Fairly, rather than being destructive, occasional anger can help the marriage improve over time.
One of the main differences between a good fight and a bad fight is whether it begins with a complaint, a criticism or contempt. The differences can be subtle. Complaints are specific and criticisms are global and include blame, and contempt adds insult to criticism. Understanding the differences can go a long way toward improving the quality of your arguments. Spouses are entitled to be unhappy, even annoyed, with each other. The key is to focus on the upsetting behavior, rather than launching into a general attack. It’s a sign of serious trouble when the opening to your discussion begins with criticism, contempt, or sarcasm. Not only will you not win the argument , you will end up unhappy, dissatisfied, and with a dose of negativity that can jeopardize your relationship.
Ask yourself what would Jesus do? Remind yourself that God commands us to love one another. If no love exists in us, God can love through us. If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, he will stir up the love of Christ within us (Gal.5:22, 23). What is needed is to start reorienting oneself (Rom.12:2). If our present lifestyle has failed, it is time to acknowledge that God has a better plan. Anyone can begin to redirect his or her life towards God’s love and God’s will.
There are three areas in which God’s will can be revealed: In his Word, the Holy Spirit leading, and peace within one’s circumstances. When all three of these areas are in agreement in a person’s life, it is a good sign of God’s leading and his will being done.
Our unbelief gives birth to disagreement and disobedience. But belief in God sows the seed of agreement, which results in obedience. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing….If you stay in me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted!” (John 15:5, 7).
In the context of marriage, if we do not feel loved, our differences are magnified. We come to view each other as a threat to our happiness. We fight for self-worth and significance, and marriage becomes a battlefield rather than a haven.
Because we give and receive love differently, keeping love alive in our marriages is hard work. If we do not understand how our spouse receives love, our marriage may dry up and we won’t understand why. We need to understand each other’s primary way of receiving love. Gary Chapman has written many books on this very subject. When do you feel most loved? Is your
love language: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service or Physical touch. When does your spouse feel most loved?
Many marriages end in divorce because of an unwillingness to be humble and serve the other in the midst of rejection. Christ said to his people, “ But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”. (Luke 6: 27, 28).
When we are in Christ we have the assurance that he will meet all our needs. (Phil. 4:19). Trying to resolve our marital conflicts without our essential needs being met in Christ will eventually prove counterproductive. We then turn to our spouses and expect them to meet needs in our lives that only Christ can meet.
The Bible interestingly couples teaching about anger and forgiveness together in Ephesians 4: 31, 32: “Get rid of all bitterness , rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. Angry people often find that forgiving those who caused pain in the past relieves much of the rage. Spouses of angry people discover that forgiveness works much better than defense mechanisms and self-protective behaviors. Those who learn to let the flaming arrows of rage fly by, or use the shield of faith for the ones that hit, become strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Eph. 6:10-20).
“A cord of three strands is not easily broken”. (Ecclesiastes 4: 12) God, you and your spouse make for a strong healthy marriage.