Even the most loving couples will have disagreements and normally these disagreements begin with the “little things." We should be mindful that if we allow these “little things” to go unresolved they always turn into “big things."
Most couples learn over time that resolving their conflicts or battles aren't easy. In the early years of a marriage we often use inadequate measures or techniques to try and solve our issues, some conscious while others are unconscious and typically unsuccessful. Here are five inadequate ways we attempt to resolve the “battle of wills."
- Through COMPETITION – One or both seek to impose their will upon the other believing their “way” is best for the marriage. The problem is in every competition someone loses. If the husband wins then the wife loses, or if the wife wins then the husband loses. And forget about a stalemate because the issue will arise again and again. The bottom line is even if you win you ultimately lose because the relationship loses.
- Through COMPROMISE – You might as well just flip a coin. This at best is a neutral position and may solve some of the “little things” while postponing the “big things." Now I’m sure some would disagree and believe that compromising on an issue is a good thing in a marriage, but let me remind you we are to be “one flesh,” and compromising doesn't always accomplish this in a relationship. What looks like a compromise may not be one at all because the attitude some have is: “I’ll give in if it looks like I’m not losing or if it works for me in the short term.”
- Some couples live in DENIAL – These are the couples who state “We never fight". How can I say this … That just isn't true! If this is the norm within the relationship then at least one person is repressing their true feelings. Most likely the feelings repressed are anger and hostility that begin to seep into other areas of life. This person may continue on as if everything is “okay” when in reality they are ready to erupt at any moment. Denial in a marriage often leads to depression and bitterness.
- Some apply ISOLATIONISM – This is the practice of separating into two emotional and psychological life spaces. In this situation wives will often concentrate their focus on their children. If the couple is childless then all of the wife’s efforts may be focused on her career, but in either case she refuses to give her husband the physical and emotional intimacy he needs. Husbands do this also by focusing on their careers seeking advancement and more money. In both cases isolationism at home can lead to extramarital affairs.
- The fifth practice is similar to isolationism but takes things a step further through the act of SEPARATION – When one or both spouses go so far to say they need their proverbial “space,” then the likelihood of divorce increases exponentially. I have never been a big proponent of “Therapeutic Separation." Once couples establish two households and gain what seems to be a sense of newfound freedom it becomes much easier to go the next step and end the marriage.
The answer we seek must be not only feasible, but first and foremost it must be biblical. God has called us to be “one flesh” in the marriage relationship and the solution is simple but not always easy. Both husband and wife must put self aside and DEFER TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY. The higher authority I speak of isn't marriage counselors or pastors; these people are often a good place to start if they’re Christ centered but they’re not God. Both people in a Christian marriage must independently yield their will to the will of God.
As I began this blog one of the first things I said was a bit misleading when I stated, “there will always be periods of adjustment because we are attempting to forge one will out of two.” My statement is true but what is misleading is that in a Christian marriage there are THREE WILLS. His will, her will, and God’s will. It is God’s will that we should seek together, and when we do, the problems we have are never insurmountable. I've never had a marriage counseling situation where the problem couldn't be solved and divorce prevented if both were willing to place God’s will first.
If you’re married now great! Continue to make your marriage better by seeking God’s will first, and always place the needs of your mate above your own.
If you’re not married and want to be then prepare your heart and life now to be the blessing your future spouse deserves. You will never regret the effort you put forth, and your future partner will be eternally grateful.
This is the last blog in the marriage series, and once again it is my prayer these writings have been a help to you or someone you know. There’s so much more we could cover about what the Bible teaches regarding the Christian marriage and home, but it’s time to move on. I will periodically revisit this topic as God leads, and the situation warrants.
Blessings to you!