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 We just finished up the 2022 version of Valentine’s Day. Some people are thrilled at their celebration, how the day went and what they received as a gift or gifts. Some people did not even acknowledge it with their spouses either by choice or accident!! Some missed the occasion for a variety of reasons.

Whether you celebrated Valentine’s Day or not, as we zero in on marriages today, and our relationship with our spouse, I thought I would share from God’s Word some tips to deal with conflict in a loving way in your marriage. These principles can apply as well for any relationship outside of marriage such as siblings, friends, people you are close to in church, the workplace, etc.

According to a recent article (June 29th, 2021) in Psychology Today, couples argue most about five things 1. Communication 2. Time together 3. Money 4. Children 5. Who will do what chores.

If these or other issues are allowed to fester and not be dealt with in a biblical way it will lead people to strained relationships even to the point for some; divorce. The Bible gives clear teaching on how to deal and resolve conflict as applied to the marriage relationship or to any other kind of human relationship.

One of the keys is that two people have to be willing to reconcile no matter what and stay faithful to the marriage commitment or the relationship that is in conflict. Otherwise, reconciliation will be strained and it will be an ongoing issue in the marriage that will keep the relationship on edge depending on the extent of the conflict.  

I want to be clear here as we talk about these things that if you are in any kind of relationship and especially a marital relationship, you are going to have conflicts. Conflicts are inevitable because even in marriage between a husband and a wife who are Christ followers, there is still two sinful natures involved while the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts.

One of the keys that is critical is to determine what you do with the conflict. Conflicts can be used of God to bring two people closer together and bring greater understanding of each other’s personality, needs and wants.    

Galatians 5:13 – 16 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

James 4:2 – 3 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

1.    Make sure you identify what the root of the conflict is all about.

·         Try to listen to what the other person is saying in the midst of the disagreement and not become defensive and react in an angry way.

·         When the conflict calms down, ask qualifying questions to best understand both sides of the conflict. ·         Many times, what people are arguing over is not the real issue, but merely a symptom and not really the stated comments in the conflict at all.

·         If you only deal with the symptom of the problem, you most likely will not completely resolve the issue and it will come up again in the future.

·         Remember the goal is to approach the aftermath of the conflict with love and humility.

2.    Ask the person you are in conflict with why they feel the way they do

·         What caused them to get angry or begin the conflict with you?

·         Was it something you did or said?

·         Did something happen before the conflict that sparked it now?

·         This is showing an attitude of love and care toward the person rather than reacting in a defensive and angry way. You are seeking to understand the problem and to reconcile

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger

·         There is such a thing as righteous anger, righteous indignation, being mad about the things God is mad about. There are times we need to be angry about sin and bad behavior by someone. But we still consider the worth of the person treating them with dignity and respect.

·         Most of the time however, to be honest, in our relationships, we get upset about things that have to do with our pride our selfishness or wanting control. We can get defensive very quickly when confronted by someone who is angry with us.

3.    Ask what you can do to resolve the conflict in a fair way. Take the initiative.

·         Sometimes, we have to be the person who will take the first steps to reconciliation.

·         This requires being a good listener. This may require an allotment of time for both parties to calm down and be able to talk without all of the emotions.

·         Talk together about what the other person wants done in order to reconcile and move forward

·         One has to be discerning about what is being asked of you to reconcile. This is where the art of compromise, the give and take in the relationship comes in to come up with a fair and equitable understanding and agreement to resolve the problem so that it may not come up again in the future.The goal in all of the conflicts we face whether it is our spouse, whether it is our co-worker, or whoever is reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:18 – 19 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation

This passage teaches us that we must do all we can in the power of Christ’s love to reconcile with those who have problems and issues with us. This can be difficult because there are some people out there that do not want to reconcile. They are walking with a bitter spirit in their hearts and they carry the burden of it around with them day after day. You have heard the saying” Hurt people hurt people” Determine a plan or how to act when and if this issue were to come up once again.

4.    Be willing to ask for forgiveness for the part of the problem you contributed to that helped initiate the conflict. Be willing to grant forgiveness if the other person is genuine in asking for forgiveness

Remember, identify and own the part of the problem that you are responsible for and be clear what you are asking or granting forgiveness for. Be willing to not bring this up again even if your feelings say, I don’t feel like forgiving that person. We are commanded to grant forgiveness to those who ask it of us in a loving and caring way even if we don’t feel like it. The feelings will follow your obedience over time.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

I Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) it keeps no record of wrongs.

What do you do if someone isn’t willing to own their part of the conflict and will not forgive you, the other person in the conflict?

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all 

  • You confess and take responsibility for the part of the conflict you brought to the argument
  • You seek forgiveness for your part of the conflict and grant forgiveness to the other person even if they do not ask for it
  • You then pray for that person, that God would work on their heart to be willing to reconcile and accept your ask for forgiveness.
  • Be at peace that you have a clear conscience before God because you did what you could to resolve the conflict and bring reconciliation to the conflict.

I Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Let’s pray for the marriages in our church and community. Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that Christ will be at the center of our marriages. Fill us with your love so that we can relate well to each other as husband and wife. When there is a disagreement or conflict, may we respond as Christ would have us respond and not let our anger fester. Help us to be committed to the ministry of reconciliation as Christ gave His all to reconcile us. As we build our marriages to honor the Lord, may it cause people to be curious about the depth of love that we have for one another and ask about our commitment to the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.