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Spare Change - March 2023

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Fighting Fair: 5 Steps to Resolving Conflict with Your Spouse

Do you fight with your spouse? It might be a small skirmish or an all-out war but at one point or another you will have a dispute with your spouse. Since conflict is inevitable, we need to come to some kind of agreement on how we should address these quarrels. You might be saying, “Hold up, Pastor Bryan! Shouldn’t we be striving to avoid fighting?” Avoiding conflict is not a biblical idea and often leads to resentment over time. Look at what the scriptures says:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Conflict must be addressed if we are to follow scripture. However, most couples do not fight fair. Instead of having a Christlike mindset, we seek to hurt the other person. We seek to win and conquer our spouse until they relent and recognize that we were right all along. We fight from a place of intense emotion and sometimes manipulation. All of this is a sinful way to resolve conflict. We need to learn to fight fairly! Here are some steps to resolving conflict in a biblical way:

  1. Reconciliation is the goal: We must remember that reconciliation is the goal. We should always be seeking to restore the relationship with our spouse. Our model for dealing with conflict is how Jesus Christ has treated us. Instead of letting us stew in our sin and receive our just punishment, He came to seek reconciliation through the cross (Romans 5:10).
  2. Be quick to listen and slow to speak: Communication is assumed and you must learn to share your heart with your spouse. One key part of communication is listening. The Bible tells us in James 1:19 to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It has been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk. You must listen to your spouse and understand where they are coming from before any conflict can be resolved.
  3. Watch your words: When you do talk, be careful with how you talk to one another. Remember, once you say something, you cannot take it back. Even if you say sorry, the thing you said is out there. Do not resort to calling names, swearing, or using accusing language. It doesn’t help when you are attacking your spouse with words; you will most certainly regret it later on. According to Ephesians 4:29, we should not let any corrupt talk come from our mouths. Also, we see in James 3 an example of how powerful the tongue is in tearing down or building up.
  4. Deal in facts: When we fight emotions can rise quickly. We need to remember that emotions are important, but they can mislead us if we are not careful.  We must deal in the facts and not emotion. Try to talk through the facts of the situation when you fight. Take a break from talking if the emotions get too high. Also sitting down at the same table rather than standing toe to toe helps. According to Ephesians 4:26-27 we can be angry and not sin. The sin happens when our anger produces hatred in our hearts, which usually results in shouting, withdrawal, and resentment. 
  5. Run to forgiveness quickly: Forgiveness is the most important part of reconciliation. Once again, we look to Christ as our example. Colossians 3:13 says, “...if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” How can we not forgive our spouse when we have been forgiven so much by our Lord? If you refuse to forgive your spouse, you need to do a heart check. I understand that sins have varying consequences and work must be done to complete reconciliation.  I am not saying that forgiveness is easy or quick, however, we must be working toward forgiveness if we are to fully reconcile conflict with our spouse. We can bring glory to the Lord if we address our conflict in a biblical way!

For more on communication in marriage check out the Families for Life podcast Marriage series at oakhillbc.org/f4l

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with