7 Times the Bible Taught Us How to Navigate Conflict With Our Spouse

At some point in our married lives, we have most likely heard the verse from Ephesians that tells us not to go to bed angry. This is a good start to prevent all those emotions from building up and tearing our marriages apart. But how do we resolve conflicts in our marriage in a way that allows our relationships to be strengthened? We need to navigate conflict with grace and Godly wisdom.

How Did We Get Here?

Did I marry this awful man? Did I marry this awful woman? They are not who I thought they were when we first married. These thoughts can quickly turn our hearts black with bitterness toward our spouse.

The truth is that the person you marry is not the same person, and neither are you. We all change. When you or I start asking these types of questions, some underlying issues need to be addressed.

Typically, two of those issues are unmet expectations and communication. When unmet expectations exist, and we do not communicate them with our spouse, it can lead to anger, bitterness, and frustration. Left unattended, these emotions can lead to the destruction and division of a marriage.

Allowing negative emotions to consume our thoughts means we are more likely to fly off the handle at our spouse, even if they only do the slightest thing wrong. This is a sign we need to do some self-reflection.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, ESV).

To outdo your spouse in showing honor, you should assess your attitude and adopt the same attitude of Christ. When a person is confronted, their blood pressure rises, and they tend to become more reactive. That can lead to unhealthy conflict.

Instead, you can use the acronym HALT to help assess your attitude before you react in an ungodly manner.

Hungry: Are you responding negatively because you are hungry?

Angry: Are you responding negatively because you are angry?

Lonely: Are you responding negatively because you are lonely?

Tired: Are you responding negatively because you are tired?

Using HALT allows us to assess not only our attitudes but our spouse’s attitudes as well. After we assess our attitude, we will recognize if we have an attitude of Christ. If you answer yes to any of the HALT questions, it is best not to engage in confrontation with your spouse.

Simply tell them that now is not a good time to have this conversation and explain why. For example, you can say, “This is not a good time to have this conversation because I am tired, and I do not want to regret what I say. Can we finish this conversation in the morning?” This way, you acknowledge that there is a problem and are willing to discuss it.

7 Ways to Navigate Conflict With Grace Using Scripture

Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 for the first four ways.

1. Love is Patient

We all have bad days. We need to remember this when talking to our spouses. Often, we are consumed with our own lives and how our day went so that we don’t stop to consider how their day unfolded. We are all trying to do our best. Be patient with your spouse, especially on difficult days.

2. Love is Kind

For many of us, it is easier to respond negatively when our spouse mistreats us or is rude than it is to respond with kindness. This innate response is the exact opposite of how we should respond. We will know our relationship with the Lord is growing when we are able to slow this reaction down and respond with kindness. In turn, this will foster a safe place for tough conversations to be held.

3. Love Does Not Envy or Boast

We are jealous beings. When our loved ones pay more attention to someone or something else, we become jealous. Envy is not a bad thing unless we allow it to consume our thoughts and control our emotions. Being jealous of someone or something is a signal that we need to address the issue at hand, whether that be unmet expectations or clarification of a situation.

Boasting is not attractive. When we boast, we build ourselves up and inflate our egos. Our boasting should be in the Lord and about our loved ones. In this way, we are proclaiming the goodness of God and giving him the glory and honor that is due.

4. Love Does Not Keep a Record of Wrongs

Keeping score of all the wrong things our spouse does and says sets our marriage up for failure. It becomes a weapon to use against our spouse in those heated moments. When we use this list against our spouses, it tears them down and can cause them to distance themselves from us. God shows us mercy and grace with each new day. In the same manner that God shows us mercy and grace, we need to extend that to our spouse.

The following 3 ways come from Philippians 2:3-8.

1. Christ Emptied Himself

When Christ came to earth, He put aside His privileges as king. He put our needs before His. Jesus took care of those He loved. We can follow this example in our marriage. Instead of looking at what our spouse can do to help or benefit us, we can ask what we can do to help them. By setting aside our desires and meeting the needs of our spouse, we reflect Christ.

2. He Became a Servant

Jesus came to serve us. When we read about Jesus’ ministry, we find examples of His servants’ hearts. From when He turned water into wine just before the beginning of His ministry to Him, washing the feet of His disciples before His death, Jesus put others first. When we put the needs of our spouse first and serve them, we will strengthen the bond of our marriage and build a firm foundation.

3. He Humbled Himself

Jesus came down from heaven to earth and did not seek the glory and honor that was due to Him. In fact, after performing a miracle, He insisted that the one on the receiving end should not tell others about it. Jesus did not want the attention. He wanted to be treated as an equal to those He was helping. When we stay humble, our marriages are strengthened, and a firm foundation is built.

Conflict Resolution

When we take the time to look within ourselves and adjust our attitudes to reflect Jesus, we are bringing Him glory and honor. It may seem easier to try to fix our spouse, but that is not what God intended us to do.He wants us to encourage, pray for and support our spouse. When we align our thoughts and attitudes with those of Jesus, we will be able to navigate conflict with Godly wisdom and grace.

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