It is not possible for two different human beings to live together under the same roof never to argue, disagree on issues or get offended. Your capacity to manage conflict in your marital relationship is actually one of the factors that make you a spouse. This is why marriage is not for minors but for adults. Couples who you see and describe as perfect and never in conflict, have only devised strategies for managing conflict in their relationship.
Whether you believe it or not, marital conflict has a spiritual background. Therefore, it can hardly be managed effectively, relying ONLY on your personal powers and abilities.
“I am the vine. Ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11). God’s grace is sufficient for you
(2nd Corinthians 12:9).
You need grace of God that flows through the Lord Jesus Christ to handle challenges in your marital relationship. You just need to tap into the available grace.
So, you must trust God for grace to do the following:
1. AVOID DEVIL’S COOKING POT: There is no quarrel without the devil behind the scene. When your argument with your spouse is getting hotter than an electric high tension wire and emotions are rising, it may be wise for you to excuse yourself politely and walk away from that scene to enable nerves calm down. You may need to go into another room or take a brief walk until emotions go down.
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so quit before the quarrel breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14).
It is also a good time to pray to God for self control, patience and understanding.
2. RESIST THE URGE TO RETALIATE: When hurt by your spouse, retaliation is not an option because your spouse is a part of you. Remember also that peace in your marital relationship is more important than winning an argument or conflict. Besides, no award awaits the winner of a quarrel. Only Satan celebrates if self control is not applied.
3. PERCEIVE YOUR SPOUSE CORRECTLY: Many marital relationships break down because of one party’s wrong perception of marriage. There is a difference between husband and man. There is a difference between wife and woman. Man and woman are identities. Every human being is one of the two. Husband and wife are responsibilities (taken by choice) and not mere identities. Your spouse is a part of you and not just anybody outside. Your spouse therefore, requires your special and unique attention and treatment.
4. APOLOGISE TO YOUR SPOUSE: A simple “I am sorry” can put off a rising fire. If you have been in a marital relationship for years and you have never been wrong; if you believe you are always right after a quarrel with your spouse and you are always the one that deserves sorry, you are simply an emotional blackmailer, full of ego and self. Your relationship is just an experiment and if the spirit of God is not invited to intervene in this matter, you might end up with a bitter lesson. Apologise to your spouse when you offend. When apology is given to you, be quick to forgive.
5. WATCH YOUR UTTERANCES: “Thoughtless speech is like the stab of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is health” (Proverbs 12: 18). An African proverb says that a good speech in the midst of crisis is like a mini skirt, short enough to be inviting and long enough to cover the subject matter. Irrespective of the subject or level of provocation or argument, never forget the fact that you are addressing your better half. There are words you cannot use for your spouse. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Avoid abusive words and hurtful accusations such as “I know you don’t care about me.” Avoid any form of violence, name-calling and threats. These are fuelling elements that could ignite unprecedented fire. Besides, your children are watching and you are empowering them with virtues that can give you problems in your old age, possibly make you regret bearing children, and negatively affect your children’s marital life in future.
6. BE PATIENT: “With patience, a ruler may be persuaded and a soft tongue will break a bone” (Proverbs 25:15). Be patient with your spouse. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind…” (1st Corinthians 13:4).
7: LISTEN TO YOUR SPOUSE: If for instance, you believe that all women (including your spouse) are the same, and do not have any progressive ideas to offer, you will find it difficult to develop a listening attitude towards your wife. In this case, peace will definitely elude that relationship because no one person is a know-it-all, except God himself. Listen to suggestion. Receive it. Compare, discuss, pray, consider factors and then, jointly take a decision. Herein lies the joy of marriage. If you cannot jaw jaw with your spouse, with whom can you do it?
8. CONSIDER YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CONFLICT: Whenever there is a conflict or quarrel, ask yourself: “What is my own contribution to this problem?” Then, make amends. Do not start with a blame game in your heart or seeking and discovering what your partner did not do right. You will only be extending further, the journey to conflict resolution and peace.
9. DROP YOUR SELF: Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). If you are still under the rule of self in marriage; if you stick to ‘a whole me’ syndrome, you may NEVER have a joyful marriage. It involves compromise, sacrifice, forgiveness and true love. Put success of the relationship above quest to prove a point that you are a god. There is nothing ‘whole’ about you if you cannot respect your creator and humble yourself before him, obeying his instructions.
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