In every marriage, whether a ministry marriage or not, there are spiritual principles and practical applications to dealing with marital conflict. Although no marriage has ever been perfect since the Fall in Eden, having true peace, love and joy is possible even in the midst of all that ministry brings along with it. Ready for it?
Permanence: Marriage in God’s eyes is meant to be permanent! (Mark 10:1-12, 1 Cor. 7:10-11)
Default Conflict Style: We all experience conflict in our marriages and tend to either clam or explode. Neither of these ways of dealing with marital conflict reflect God’s way or working through conflict in love.
IF you’re a clammer, you need to learn not to keep a record of wrongs done (1 Cor. 13:5) and to not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph. 4:26).
IF you’re an exploder, you need to learn self-control, so you don’t speak words you’re going to regret later (Prov. 12:18; 14:17; 15:1).
Authority: God has established for our good and for His glory, a line of authority in the home with the husband being the leader of the home and the wife submitting to the authority of her husband. Wives–we are not submitting to God if we are not submitting to our husbands (or any other God given authority). Husbands–we are not submitting to God if we are not leading our wives in a loving manner.
Submission: Submitting to our husbands is part of what God uses to grow us up to be more like Jesus and should be done:
- Graciously (1 Peter 3:3-4)
- Respectfully (Ephesians 5:33)
- Without fear (1 Peter 3:6) because it is with faith, entrusting ourselves to God (1 Peter 2:23)
- As unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22)
- In order that the Word of God may not be dishonored (Titus 2:5)
Guard Your Heart: In dealing with marital conflict, we need to diligently guard our hearts from letting resentment and bitterness take hold in our marriage (Proverbs 4:23; 19:11; Ephesians 4:26)
One way we prevent resentment from creeping in is by surrendering our expectations to God in areas where our expectations cause conflict.
We are able to do this because we are looking to God to meet our deepest inner needs.
Agape Love: God calls husbands and wives to love each other with AGAPE LOVE–All Out, All-In (to us a Texas Hold-’em phrase), 100%, freely and fully, as a gift to God (1 Corinthians 13).
Win them Over: The purity and reverence of our lives can move our husbands towards believing the Word (1 Peter 3:1-2). This is tough on husbands who are church leaders, because when we don’t love our wives in certain areas, we are doubting God’s ways and wisdom related to dealing with marital conflict.
Reflect: When dealing with marital conflict with your husband or with your wife, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I submitting to the Lord’s ways for my marriage (wives: by submitting to my husband; husbands: by lovingly leading my wife)?
- Am I guarding my heart from resentment and bitterness?
- Am I loving my husband or wife with agape?
- Do it graciously, not accusingly!
- Leave your expectations at the table (don’t increase expectations and resentment because now they have no excuse for not doing it your way!)
- Trust God to meet your needs and change the things only He can change in your spouse’s heart.