My work as a licensed Christian counselor allows me to incorporate two aspects of my education into my work. On one hand, I can utilize my theological training when my clients are looking for a faith-based perspective. On the other hand, I am also equipped to utilize the most effective empirically-supported clinical tools that exist to assist you with conflict resolution in your marriage. Some clients prefer that I use one or the other, and some prefer that I use both.
Conflict in Your Marriage
In my work with premarital and married couples, we often focus on the fundamentals of conflict resolution in marriage as one of the primary ways to improve the relationship. There are a number of beneficial techniques and ideas that couples can adopt in order to engage in marital conflicts more effectively. For Christian couples, it is also a good idea to have some “go-to” verses that you can stand on as you seek to honor your spouse through your marital combat (i.e. conflict resolution).
Scripture is full of passages that relate to interpersonal intensity. In this article, I offer five helpful verses that can help you and your spouse to put the Word of God to work in your relationship and in your marital conflict resolution.
Your Temper and Your Marriage
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
Have you ever lost your temper? Quite apart from the scientific explanation of what is happening in your brain at that moment, the Word of God also has some wisdom to offer. When we flip our lid in marital conflict, we can end up saying and doing things that we would never do if we were thinking clearly (or, more specifically, using our prefrontal cortex). When we give ourselves over to fully venting our anger, we expose ourselves to thinking, speaking, and acting in quite a foolish manner. Instead, take a timeout. Breathe. As soon as you become aware of your anger, take some intentional steps to slow down and stay engaged with your spouse in a way that promotes the successful resolution of your conflict.
Leave Revenge to God
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
The urge to get payback for wrongs committed against us can feel quite natural. It is difficult to drop the charges and allow the perpetrator to go free. When it comes to marriage however, God’s people are encouraged to let go of the impulse for revenge and to turn the conflict over to God. Allow God to work on your spouse’s heart and allow Him to fight on your behalf. Often it is our woundedness that is driving our conflict with each other. God works at the level of the heart and only He can bring about the healing that many of us (and our spouses) really need.
Focus on the Positive
So encourage each other and build each other up just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Accentuate the positive and alleviate the negative. It may sound clichéd, but even the authors of the ancient scriptures knew that focusing on the positive makes a big difference in our relationships. Ephesians 4:29 talks about curbing negative language and speaking only what is useful for building each other up. We need to focus on the positive aspects of our marriage and the positive traits in our spouse, and to communicate those to each other in an encouraging way. When we do so, we make positive deposits in our relational bank account. This pays dividends when we begin to battle.
You are Responsible for Your Own Behavior
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Romans 12:17
The reality is that our behavior is not dependent on the behavior of someone else. When things get tense between you and your spouse, you have the freedom to choose your own response. You can choose to repay meanness with kindness and rudeness with gentleness. And the word of God tells us that it is more honorable to do so.
Accept Each Other’s Faults
When we are in conflict with our spouse, it is helpful to remember to be patient with each other. The relationship is made up of two imperfect people. Your spouse is flawed and (brace yourself) so you are you. Making allowance for human imperfections is the foundation for the intimacy your relationship needs in order to thrive. When someone knows about our flaws and warts, then they really know us, and they can really love us. Sharing and accepting our faults is the foundation of love.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13
Christian Counseling for a Healthy Marriage
Are you concerned about resolving conflict in your own relationship? Have you been wrestling with tension over harmful, frustrating, or even toxic patterns of conflict with your partner? If you (or your partner) are experiencing some frustration or confusion over this issue, Christian counseling is a great place to begin to sort that out. I would welcome the opportunity to help you find some answers as you seek to learn more about conflict resolution in marriage.
As a Christian counselor, I am convinced that change is definitely possible. You may not be in a place where that feels possible right now, and that’s OK. But with the help of a good Christian counselor, you (and your spouse) can begin to find the solutions you are seeking.
“A Hasty Temper Exalts Folly,” Created by the author, Justin Monuteaux; “Fight,” courtesy of Martin Knize, unsplash.com