“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you..” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Finding anything good to focus on is difficult when you’re in the midst of a conflict in your marriage. Waves of emotion create a gulf between you and your mate. And with the emotional connection disconnected, seeing the good in the conflict can be even more difficult. 

The first principle necessary to resolve conflict is to remember that the conflict does not necessarily have to be detrimental to a marriage relationship. Conflict, as with all trials, is meant to test our faith, develop character, and draw us closer to God. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” (Romans 5:3-4) Conflict is really just an opportunity to grow, but that depends on how we look at conflicts and whether we view the marriage glass as half full or half empty.

What I am about to say is hard, really hard in to do: we can have a joyful expectation, even in conflict if we remember that God has a purpose and often He is using our spouse as sand paper to smooth out areas in our life that don’t reflect Christ. This doesn’t mean it is not painful. It is both a recognition of pain and a future hope as stated in Romans. 

So it boils down to what is our attitude when we encounter conflict with your mate? I would suggest that you view the glass as half full. That does not mean I am looking through rose colored glasses. It is about remaining hopeful that God is still in charge. Remembering anything positive is challenging in the midst of heated emotions. Everything can appear bleak. That’s the nature of crises. Perceptions are skewed, emotions are frayed and edgy, and the outlook appears dismal.

In the midst of this conflict, however, opportunity awaits. There is a chance to remember what was good about your spouse before the conflict or crisis, and to add to the marital legacy. Consider the children, a beautiful house where you enjoyed so many memories, the vacations where you laughed till you cried together, your families and all the joy they add to your lives, a vibrant church family and small group that prays for you, all the shared interests and activities, and finally the strong attraction that brought the two of you together in the first place. If you do that, I believe the conflict will not seem as formidable as it once did.

Cultivate a positive and thankful mind-set. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” No matter what the situation, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Be thankful to God for what He has done in your lives. Learn to appreciate your spouse’s good qualities—rather than dwell on his or her shortcomings. If you maintain a positive outlook, your spouse is likely to follow suit.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you tend to be positive or negative during conflcit?
  2. Is it easy for you to raise an issue or disagree with your spouse or someone you have a relationship with?
  3. When in conflict, can you share your feelings, without anger? If not why not?
  4. Do you deal with the “real” issue and find resolution and do you tend to deal with raw emotions?
  5. What would it take to create a safe or comfortable space for conflicts and differences for you? For your spouse?