Marriage, Conflict, and God
If you are married and are experiencing conflict in your marriage, have you ever considered that God may have a purpose in it? While God may not have caused whatever differences or disagreements that have been dividing and hindering you and your spouse, there’s no question that He wants to use whatever differences and disagreements that have been dividing and hindering the two of you, and He wants to use them for a purpose. And if you are one who happens to believes that God’s purposes, even if you don’t fully understand how, always and ultimately, in some way and somehow lead to something good, then it only follows that He wants to bring about something good from whatever conflicts you and your spouse experience.
Marriage can be wrought with conflict, friction, and tension—so much conflict, friction, and tension greater than what a marriage can bear. That’s often why marriages fall apart and couples divorce. But does it always have to be that way? Do unbearable differences and disagreements that splinter husbands and wives have to end in death—the death of the marriage? Or is there, perhaps, another way of looking at and handling these splinters? As painful, as frustrating, and as stifling as marital discord can be, the road to resolve, healing, recovery, and peace may start with a change in perspective—changing how you see whatever disharmony your marriage may be experiencing. Maybe, just maybe, instead looking at conflict through your own lens—the lens you’ve become accustomed to, adopt a new lens—the lens that God uses, so that you begin to see conflict from His point of view. God wants to use it, and He wants to use it for a purpose—a good purpose. So, it only makes sense to, at least, try to see it the way He sees it so that you can see and hopefully receive the benefits of the purposes He wants to bring about.
Let’s look at two common disagreements that divide and hinder couples:
1—The good, ole, “What do you want to eat for dinner?” disagreement that, for many couples, routinely ends with no dinner at all because by the time they finish arguing about who decided last time and whose turn it is now to decide, neither one is no longer hungry. Now, that couple may see this as one more instance, added to many, where they just can’t agree on something as simple as what to eat for dinner. And in many respects, that may be true: they just can’t seem to agree, yet again, on something as simple as what to eat. But if it’s really that simple, why can’t they agree? Maybe the fact that they cannot agree on something so seemingly simple to the point where their disagreement escalates to where they’re not eating dinner at all and may even stop speaking to each other for a while is an indicator that something else that’s not so simple is really going on. Maybe what’s really going on has very little or nothing to do with what to eat but more to do with control and domination. In spite of the question, “What do you want to eat for dinner?” maybe the wife feels like she never gets to have what she really enjoys and that, somehow, they always end up eating what the husband wants.
2—The other ole, “Where are we going to spend the holidays?” While some couples establish patterns and traditions that both spouses are happy with, other couples end up in a feud year after year. One spouse (or possibly both) wants to spend every holiday with their side of the family and no holiday with the other’s side. Then, what ends up happening? You know what happens: they each go separately to their own side of the family; they both go together to one (or each) side of the family, but one spouse (or each) goes disgruntled; or neither spouse goes anywhere, and they stay home angry (not to mention, hungry) and not talking to each other. Again, this may have less to do with where to spend the holidays, but more to do with selfishness and self-centeredness. Maybe the husband feels like his wife is overly-attached to and only wants to spend time with her family and doesn’t value and leaves no room for his family at all.
So, what do these scenarios have to do with God and how He may be using them? What’s the new perspective that I’m encouraging you to adopt to see these scenarios from His point of view? Here’s what I’m asking you to do. When conflict occurs, as uncomfortable, as upset, and as angry as you may become, I want you to start paying close attention to what the conflict brings to the surface and exposes out in the open that may, otherwise, have not been revealed if the conflict never occurred. Not only am I asking you to pay attention to what the conflict exposes; I am asking you to pay close attention, specifically, to what the conflict brings to the surface and exposes to you about you! Never mind what the conflict may expose or reveal about your husband or your wife. Make yourself the center of your attention and focus on what God is trying to tell you about you—perhaps, that you’re overly-controlling and dominating like the husband in our “What to eat for dinner”; or maybe that you are selfish and self-centered like the wife on our “Where to spend the holidays.” Extreme control, dominance, selfishness, self-centeredness, and so many other issues that conflict brings to the surface tear marriages apart everyday, and too often, married couples never really get to the bottom of what the true, underlying issues really are. So, because God is always working to, ultimately, bring about good, it’s very likely, when your marital conflicts occur, that God is trying to help you save your marriage by bringing to the surface and showing you things about you—things you may not, otherwise, realize--that may be tearing your marriage apart. So, instead of seeing conflict for all the negative that it often brings about, I encourage and even challenge you to see conflict as something God uses to show you things, particularly things about you, that may be detrimental to your marriage (and to your relationships, in general) so that you can be aware of and work on whatever He shows you. As you enter the New Year, I encourage you and I even challenge you to take on a new perspective, a new lens, a new way of looking at conflict. I challenge you to start paying close attention to what God is showing you about you when conflict occurs and to start working on whatever He shows you because whatever it is, it might just save your marriage, and whenever a marriage can truly be saved, healed, and restored in peace, that’s a real good thing.
Like you, Katrina loves seeing people in healthy relationships (with themselves and others) that they genuinely enjoy and not just simply tolerate. This blog is dedicated to achieving that vision.
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