Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
My goodness it’s been awhile. We had Easter and I didn’t post due to the Lord’s Resurrection day, that needed to be priority. Last week I couldn’t find my head for all the activities going on. I just started a new bible study at church, I’m very excited about it. But, I am back and excited to share something I realized since the last time I wrote to you.
Conflicts are good. What are you talking about Ashli? Yes, I said it. Conflicts are good. We need conflict in our marriage and relationship. Conflicts show us our differences. They help us release emotions we have bottled up inside. We get intimacy and we see the vulnerable side of our spouse. Conflicts reveal areas that need improvement. Without conflict, we would be living a lie. We would mask our true identity and withhold intimacy from our spouse. Without conflict, we aren’t being vulnerable or, allowing our spouse to break down barriers we’ve built up from our past. So, that is why I say conflict is good for our marriage.
You know what else is good about conflict? Conflict resolution. Ahhh yes, the greatest bright side is when we get to make up. Resolution brings peace, tenderness, understanding, forgiveness, and brings you two closer as one. Those qualities are the ideal end result. For me, the anger and fighting is worth the ideal end result. But we have to want the ideal end result. We have to seek it and need it, just as we need food. We have to desire it. The only way to grow is to have disagreements and then resolve them. Leaving them open is like leaving a wound open to bacteria. It’s like leaving it exposed to the world. Your wound is susceptible to any and all things that come it’s way. It can become infected. It can get worse and spread into a bigger problem. Or it can take a long time to heal because of not letting it properly settle and scab. Scabbing is a protective layer that covers a wound. It’s the body’s way of healing itself. Resolution is protection over your marriage from outside predators. It’s protection from infection. And it’s protection from problems spreading, and getting worse. Here are 3 ways to help reach conflict resolution in marriage.
1) Create a Safe Word– A safe word is used in arguments that are getting out of control. It’s used when arguments go beneath the belt and you need to stop immediately. Pete and I have a safe word. It’s bacon. Bacon is a silly word that we could laugh at, even in the middle of a heated battle. And if the safe word doesn’t help us laugh, it will distract enough to halt the argument and table the conflict. The safe word means everyone needs to stop right then and there. No more words. It’s meant to table the conflict for a later time, when the conversation can be discussed like the mature adults we want to be. Preferably, the delay should not be longer than one week. Going too long without discussing the conflict can lead to procrastination and therefore resolution won’t be reached. A cool down period is great. But try not to go longer than a week on an argument you’ve had with your spouse.
2) What Does God Say About the Matter?– Go to the bible. Go to a sermon. Get alone time with God and pray. Read and pray on the topic of the conflict. Give yourself time to truly digest what God has said to you on the conflict. Receive what He says and believe it. Don’t doubt what God says. If you have questions, seek a biblical friend or leader for deeper understanding. Again, try very hard to do this within a week of the argument.
3) Go Together in Prayer– Without discussing or rehashing the conflict, go into prayer together. Pray together about the specific matter. Be open, honest, deep, and intensional. Let your spouse hear your heart through your prayer to the Father. Pray in Jesus’ name. Do not throw daggers at your spouse during the prayer. The point is to resolve the matter, not to tell God how much your spouse is wrong. Tempting, I know. But you don’t need to tattle on your spouse. God knows who is wrong and who is right. God is right. He will reveal himself to both of you on the matter. He will correct you both. That is why step 2 above is important. Prayer together is vital in our marriages regardless of fighting or having peace. It is something we should do as often as possible. But it is especially important during conflict.
I pray for us all this week. Do not fear arguments or conflict. Make the 3 steps above a habit. Discuss them with your husband. Create the safe word. Seek God. Pray together. This is what sets us apart from the world. Marriage is work, but we knew that when we signed up. Never give up.