Gary Smalley,”We can use conflict to grow either closer together or further apart.”
Maybe your marriage is riddled with conflict today, or perhaps you never fight. Whatever your past or current experiences, how do you perceive conflict? Are these images positive or negative? Conflict has the potential for beauty, but at the same time, there is also a “beast” lurking in it if we mishandle our conflicts.
In an unhealthy sense, if we avoid conflict, pretend it doesn’t exist, gossip to others about it, get angry, or intimidate others into doing what we want, the greater the problem will become, and the greater the relational damage will be. Couples who do not work out their differences and manage their conflict issues are at risk for divorce.
The apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
Matthew 5:23–24 we are encouraged to deal with relationship problems so that our hearts will be right when we worship the Lord. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Spouses feel like they can’t talk about things in a healthy way. Safe boundaries need to be set for both to talk openly.
Matthew 19:8 A hard heart is the kiss of death to a marriage, and that is exactly what prolonged, unhealthy conflict creates: a hardened heart!
Avoiding each other often causes long-term resentment, which eventually destroys feelings of love in a marriage. The bottom line is that your marriage may not last if you do not work through issues.
Healthy conflict can facilitate deeper understanding, trust, connection and respect – true intimacy. Arguing can cause separation. When voicing an opinion to your spouse you should consider whether you are doing it for the right reason. Ask yourself before you speak am I being critical or sharing a concern. What is the tone behind my words, and are my facial expressions communicating criticism?
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