Thursday, March 14, 2024

Marriage 202: Conflict

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,

for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

A soft answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger

Proverbs 15:1

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32


As I type, we are on the road for a 30-day trip through the South to meet with supporters (a thank-you-tour-of sorts), speak at several incredible venues along the way, and spend a few days in South Carolina at the beach for a quiet vacation (hopefully not over-run by those on spring break). The original itinerary had us closer to 6-weeks out, but we recalculated and  shortened the length (grateful). Because we are driving long days and many hundreds of miles, we sort of sit in a petri dish for marital-conflict.

Not to worry, we’ve learned how to manage this well, over the years, so I am convinced we’ll have a great trip. 


Today, we are enjoying scenic New Mexico. 

I am stunned by the beauty of what increment weather, the baking of sun, and the length of days created for us to enjoy along the way.

If the rocks could speak, they’d no doubt attribute their uniqueness, and wrinkly layers, to the work of “conflict.” 


Just yesterday I chatted with a friend of mine who is in-training to be a Resident Assistant (AKA: House Mom) in a safe-house for rescued women from sex-trafficking. 

As part of her training, she joined in recently on a live and "hot" situation, in order to observe how other personnel in the facility handle these dear ones with care. 

These precious gals (the rescued) need help learning everything from how to use a toothbrush to learning to drive a car. 

So, you can imagine how important instruction into such a crucial life skill as conflict will be.

At this facility, they work to help these women understand the difference between toxic me-centered, fight-to-be right-conflict and healthy fight-to-understand-and-work-together-conflict. 


These women aren’t alone.

Oh-so-many-couples marry never learning the difference. 

Truthfully, even Bay and I needed instruction years ago, as most of us do. 


Easy answer - we all love to set up our own Kingdoms, where we are the King or the Queen, and everyone else lives by our rules.

Conflict occurs when our spouse doesn’t live by them.

However, when trust is established (and I know my spouse is FOR ME), when I agree to eliminating rats in the walls, and  when  I commit to doing the work of marriage, healthy conflict comes easier with a ready resolution promised.

The verses above need embedding on our hearts before we can even address conflict. 

They give us a base theology of how to gift our spouse with healthy conflict.

Anger isn’t the sin - what we do with anger determines the sin.

Even still, we must be slow to explode…and, then…

…we deal with the problem as quickly as possible (note: attacking the problem, never the person).

…we take enough time prior to conflict-engagement so we never enter the situation when emotions are running high and tensions are tight.

At this point, we are able to truthfully, gently, kindly, present our perspective and explain how things brought us to the heat of differing opinions. 

There are always two sides…so instead of just pointing fingers and placing blame at “the other,” we have to pay attention, examine our own hearts, and take ownership for where we are at fault.

Being quick to ask forgiveness and even quicker to forgive are essential. 

Can I remind you what forgiveness looks like? It looks like keeping no record of wrongs - never bringing the issue up again to ourselves, to God, to our spouse, and of course, never to others. Forgiveness looks like wiping the slate clean, and granting one-another a do-over. There are thousands upon thousands of begin-agains in every successful marriage.

There will always be potential for anger in relationship resulting in conflict…but…the Lord gives us a ready, strong, Biblical model that keeps us steady in conflict and much more able to come to a greater understanding of one another. 


The result is a hopeful journey through life with incredible beauty formed in each of us. 

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