Unforgettable Love Story: A Study of Love, Marriage and Romance
The Prophet Amos asked, “How can two walk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3) The obvious answer is, they cannot. Conflict in marriage is inevitable, so the ability to resolve conflict in a way that produces agreement between husband and wife is critical to the success of the marriage. When a couple takes time to review where they’ve come from, where they are, and come to agreement on any conflict, they are able to make tremendous strides in their relationship and in life. This week’s message was on how couples can unplug conflicts and how to plug into God’s plan for marriage.
Something To Talk About:
Will there be differences of opinion and conflict during the course of a marriage? The answer: “Of course!” No two people can be married to each other without hundreds or perhaps a few thousand differences of opinion during the course of a marriage. The question is what do we do when we face conflict in a relationship.
- Choose to act and not to react: Think about it this way. As emotions increase, the ability to think clearly decreases. During intense emotions clear thinking is often disabled. Acting rather than reacting gives us the ability to respond objectively and productively to resolve a problem. When you listen calmly and alertly to another’s difficulty, it is often surprising how quickly you gain insights into the difficulty and find yourself able to generate resolutions to the problem. It is a whole lot easier to resolve a conflict when you are objective, calm, and focused then when you are agitated, angry, and distracted.
- Focus on the good and not the bad: It is easy to dwell on the negative. But I believe we need to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give — perfect conflict-free happiness. Instead, he says, we can appreciate what God designed marriage to provide: partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God — together. Yes, we will have bad days, where we yell or are selfish, but it is all too easy to forget all the good that is happening as well. Despite our imperfections, God expects the husband and wive to focus on the prize of growing together in Him. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
- I will talk and not walk: Commitment is critical to the success of a marriage. It takes you through tough times and steers you toward godly solutions. Research tells us that the more deeply people are committed to their spouse and marriage, the more likely they are to sacrifice for the sake of the marriage, feel less trapped in the marriage, and enjoy longer lasting relationships. Marriage is like running a marathon. Unless you are committed to running the distance no matter what the cost, your chances of dropping out along the way significantly increase. Divorce can seem like the only solution, but it is not. As you read the Bible and grow in the Lord, you will discover principles to help you live with satisfaction and joy regardless of your situation. You will also learn many ways to transform an unsatisfying marriage into a great one.
- How does marriage take away individual dreams? (e.g. kids eliminate that sports car or that trip to Italy…) Do you know what the dreams of your spouse are?
- Do these kind of sacrifices build up to cause conflict and resentment? If so, how?
- What are the issues that result in conflict? What kind of faults in your spouse do you tend to not tolerate? What faults in yourself create conflicts with your spouse?
- What keeps you from compromise in your marriage conflicts? How can you turn a conflict into compromise that works for both?
- What is the difference between trying to change your spouse and trying to resolve a conflict?
- Who is responsible for fixing the conflicts that need resolving.
Take One Thing Home with You
I have had newlyweds come to me worried because they believe they fight too much. The fights make them wonder whether they are really meant for each other. They begin to wonder at least to themselves whether their marriage was a mistake. They wonder how they can stop the conflicts which is causing the bickering.
They often look surprised when I tell them that Angela and I have disagreements occasionally. They look at me in disbelieve assuming that the pastor’s marriage is Eden on earth. I can assure you it is not. Here is the unvarnished truth. If you want to never argue again, divorce now and never talk to each other. We only argue with people whom we love and whom we plan to stay in a relationship with for a long time. Arguing does not mean that you are ill-matched. It means that you live in close proximity, and you are trying to grow toward one another. To step away from resolving conflict by having a frank discussion means you are stepping away from the person.
In a healthy marriage, two people are trying to become one. It takes years of learning your spouse and dying to self before you come close to that goal. Along the way you bump into and over any number of issues: from finances, to the kids, to in-laws, to where to spend the Christmas holidays. People think that each disagreement means you are moving farther apart when in reality it can also help you move closer together. If you think about it, you can probably provide some examples of that truth in your life.
However, many of us grow up afraid of conflict. I want to encourage you to take another route. Instead of avoiding conflict, learn how to resolve the conflict and have disagreements in a healthy way. Simply put, if both of you will focus on the obstacle and how to remove it, you will bless your marriage through the disagreement/argument.
Simply sit down and talk like adults. Whether the conversation is simple or profound, you can build real bridges and talk about things without it being uncomfortable.