Three Ways Couples Deal with ConflictMay 14, 2020
Ephesians 5:33 – “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “If one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
This verse in Ephesians is often taken to the extreme (not always in the best way...) to explain the relationship between a husband and wife. I am always amazed by how sensitive the Word of God is when pointing out the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. In this passage, Paul takes the time to explain and underline the importance of the husband loving his wife and the wife submitting (under the direction of) her husband, as if to emphasize the need for both the husband and the wife to repeatedly be reminded, again and again, that their marriage must be based on LOVE and RESPECT.
The husband-wife relationship is indeed complex, and we need all the help and advice that the Word of God can give us. Unfortunately, we sometimes enter into marriage with preconceived ideas which alter our chances to succeed at this beautiful adventure of marriage, serving God together.
Here is one of these preconceived ideas that has infiltrated christian homes: “A happy couple is a couple that never fights!” FALSE! A couple that lasts is a couple that knows how to resolve conflict with the goal of reaching a “win-win” solution.
When we look at how different couples manage conflict, we can identify three stereotypes:
· The couple that validates each other
· The couple that explodes
· The couple that avoids confrontation
The couple that validates each other:“Hmm…yes, I understand.”
The husband and wife often repeat the other’s words, always trying to understand their spouse, and, after arguing, find a compromise. This is their go to pattern for conflict resolution. Very often, the two spouses have different spheres of influence though they demonstrate unity and harmony in their goals and the way to attain them.
They don’t need a huge amount of independent space between them.
The risk associated with this type of marriage relationship is that they could become simple roommates and lose the passion they had when they first got married because their romantic love has become merely warm feelings of affection and friendship.
If you recognize yourselves in this type of relationship, you can happily bless the Lord for your solid marriage. Put extra effort into making and keeping your relationship “spicy,” bring a little craziness into your love making so that it stays vibrant and alive until the end.
The couple that explodes: “…Yes, you did!” “No, I didn’t!”
The husband and wife confront each other in a verbally “explosive,” way. The two spouses are equally engaged in the argument. We could call them the “volcanic couple.” They both interrupt each other, asking questions. They know that they have to give each other personal space and maintain a common goal in order to resolve their conflicts.
The risk associated with this type of marriage relationship is that it could become self-destruct if the husband and wife forget the dangers of these explosions… hurting their spouse in an irremediable way.
If you recognize yourselves in this type of relationship, always keep the safety and wellbeing of your spouse as your focal point so that you can enjoy many more emotionally rich and joyful years together. Watch out for the storms that could sink your boat.
The couple that avoids confrontation: “Agree to disagree…”
This is the husband and wife that avoid conflict at all cost because they prefer to avoid their differences rather than face the pain of sorting them out. For this couple, resolving a conflict automatically means that one of the two will have to simply accept and go along with the other’s opinion. The bond that unites them tends to be stronger than the disagreements that could separate them. They live comfortably together, though each in a slightly different sphere.
The risk associated with this type of marriage relationship is that the husband and wife won't know how to function when faced with a disagreement that requires significant emotional investment to find a solution, letting fear and negativity overwhelm them to the point of avoiding the problem completely.
If you recognize yourselves in this type of relationship, learn to listen to each other’s arguments without fear. Also, take the time to do some introspection to better understand your own positions.
No matter your couple "type" your chances of success are only as good as the extent to which you keep God in the middle of your “cord of three strands” and to which your spouse’s happiness stays your primary objective…
Serving God is challenging enough without adding marriage difficulties. Ban all negative and hurtful criticism, defensive positions, and the tendency to build walls between you.
Learn to manage your conflicts so that you can both be winners!
Eric & Rachel DUFOUR
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