Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The 6th Axiom of Marriage: Conflict is good

     Do you and your spouse agree on everything?  Do you like the same restaurants?  The same TV shows?  The same movies?  Do you like to engage in the same hobbies and activities?  Are you in full agreement on how to raise your kids, especially how to discipline them?  Certainly, you have the same religious beliefs, right?  How about your feelings on family and in-laws?  Do you have the same thoughts about your sex life?  Are your priorities always the same?
     If you and your spouse agree on everything, something is wrong.  The 6th Axiom of Marriage says, “Conflict is not abnormal and does not have to be destructive to a marriage.”  When I am counseling with a couple, I am actually more worried about a couple that reports no conflict than I am about a couple that reports constant conflict?  Why would I be worried about an absence of conflict?  Because God created us as unique individuals.  You and your spouse have different life experiences, different backgrounds, different perspectives, different emotional make-ups, different faith journeys, and different ways of engaging the world around you.  If a husband and a wife say they are in complete agreement on everything, all the time, then most likely one of them is being suppressed in some way and is afraid to express what he/she really thinks or believes.  In any intimate, authentic, transparent, Godly relationship, conflict will be present, and can be good.
     Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  On the whole, I am a conflict avoider.  I hate conflict.  I get mad.  I talk out loud.  I do physical activities to try and reduce my stress.  I cry out to God, sometimes internally, and sometimes out loud.  But when it comes to facing off with someone, I just don’t want to do it.  I’m a conflict avoider.  But conflict, IF HANDLED CORRECTLY, can be good for you and good for your marriage.*  Here’s a few ways how:

  • Conflict causes you to refocus on your marriage.  Are the choices you’re making for the good of the marriage, or do they come from a place of selfishness, or pride, or anger?
  • Conflict helps you to recognize you are not always in control.  Ultimately, you can only make choices for yourself.  You cannot make choices for your spouse.
  • Conflict allows you to see other solutions to your problems.  Even in conflict, your spouse can open your eyes to other possibilities that you can't always see alone.
  • Conflict keeps you humble.  Have you ever adamantly defended a position, only to later discover that you were wrong?  Humility will keep you connected to your spouse, if you both are accepting of your own and your spouse’s shortcomings.
  • Conflict brings personal and spiritual growth.  If what you believe is never challenged in a significant way, you will stagnate.  Growth is essential for a healthy relationship with each other and in your relationship with God, both individually and as a couple.
  • In conflict, you can more clearly hear your covenant lover’s heart.  Normally, we only argue about the things we are passionate about.  And whether he/she is right or wrong, in conflict you can more fully experience your mate’s feelings, desires, and fears.
  • Conflict draws you closer to God.  In times of conflict, you are given a definitive opportunity to live out your faith with your spouse through love, forgiveness, patience, grace, mercy, and kindness—even when your emotions aren’t currently matching the actions God calls you to.

     Like I said, I’m a conflict avoider, but in conflict (or shortly after), I’m often led to appreciate Lisa more, and thank God for the blessing of wife who lives for Christ, and loves me in spite of my faults.

*This post is not intended to address extreme addictions, abuse, or other forms of marital conflict that require professional clinical counseling.  If there is conflict in your relationship that presents danger to your well-being—physically, mentally, emotionally, or in any way—or if you live in a state of fear due to conflict, seek immediate professional and protective help.

To see the 10 Axioms of Marriage, click here.
To read a more detailed explanation of
The 1st Axiom of Marriage, click here
The 2nd Axiom of Marriage, click here
The 3rd Axiom of Marriage, click here
The 4th Axiom of Marriage, click here
The 5th Axiom of Marriage, click here

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