Conflict at some point in marriage is inevitable. There are bound to be some disagreements, mounting stress, and escalated arguments. So the question isn't "if" problems will arise. Rather, how will we, as a couple, handle the conflict when it does occur. Before I get into some of the ways to ease a conflict, let's evaluate briefly how marriage should be ranked and valued.
Our relationships with our husband should be first priority under our relationship with God. We should put high value on it, thus making intentional effort to keep it healthy and thriving.
As help meets, we should aim to serve and help our husbands in ways they need us the most. Is your husband struggling to get his lunch made for work? This is where we can (and should) step in and help him get it made. Is he in need of support for a project or ambition? A job or career change? Your support is most important over anyone else's. Sometimes you may not agree, but there are still ways you can still be supportive and trust his decision. And if he fails, it’s an opportunity to learn together.
Unity in marriage is so important. Though it's not always possible, we should attempt [with prayer and His strength] to remain in unity with our husbands. Being in unity doesn't mean we're always required to agree with one another. But we can disagree in a peaceful and mature manner.
When we enter into disagreements with our husband, we can often feel we are right and they are in the wrong -- for whatever reason. This is one reason conflict happens in the first place. I recognize this isn't a popular method for handling conflict and it will not work for all couples pending personalities and the health of the marriage. It is a method that does require some discernment and wisdom when put into use.
Be the first to apologize for the part you played that may have contributed to the conflict.
But he's the one who's wrong! Why should I apologize?!
I can speak for myself and say that even if I was factually accurate, my attitude could have been poor or accusatory, and that puts me in the wrong, too.
Offering an apology when you feel you were "right" doesn't necessarily mean you were completely wrong in the entirety of the problem. But I'm willing to bet there was something in the dispute you could have handled better. Your tone of voice. The words you spoke. Or even giving the silent treatment.
I know how easy it is to allow bitterness to fester and I’ve been known to bury it. I bet that’s one reason God said not to let the sun go down on our anger. (Ephesians 4:26)
It's a matter of restoring the relationship when it's been pricked. The more a relationship is pricked without the opportunity to heal, the more damaged it will become. And it could take years, but damage does happen and by then it will be harder to heal.
When you apologize, only apologize for your part. Do not take the blame for what isn’t your responsibility to take. You should only own your part and sometimes being the one to initiate the first apology can help break the ice of the entire conflict so you can both move toward a solution.
There is an art in your apology; a beauty if you will. When we apologize, it helps diffuse the heat. It allows for the conflict to be addressed, if necessary, without either party being hot-headed or defensive.
Disclaimer: If you are in a marriage that involves destructive behaviors such as manipulation or gaslighting, this method my not a recommended way to handle conflict. I recommend reading The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick. (aff)
Jesus Died to Restore Our Relationship with the Father
Think of our relationship with Jesus -- He didn't do a thing wrong, yet He still took on the blame for our sin. Why? Because He wanted the relationship to be restored. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Our marriage is a reflection, in many ways, of our relationship with God. An apology doesn't necessarily mean you are taking blame (what a radical idea, huh?), but it does mean you recognize you made some mistakes, too. Even so, if a conflict does not require an apology from you, which does happen, what about initiating a solution?
What if you didn't make any mistakes and your husband is completely in the wrong? Maybe there is an issue of sin, rather than a dispute? I wouldn't go so far as to say this doesn't apply at all, but it definitely would require a more detailed look.
Have you been in a dispute with your husband when you believed you were in the right? How did you find a resolution and restore the relationship?
For His Glory,
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