By staying firm during difficult times, you and your spouse can grow in your relationship with each other.
When you boil down a lot of destructive arguments, what you often find is a simple lack of facts. The conflicts begin when an individual sees something that bothers him and then draws a conclusion. But what he thinks he sees may not be true at all. There’s nothing new about this advice. James, the Lord’s brother, wrote, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Clearly understanding our God-given temperaments brings to light common causes of family disharmony, provides handles for resolving long-standing friction in the home, dramatically increases our feelings of value for our loved ones and friends, and gives additional reasons to honor God. Usually, by being soft, genuinely seeking to understand what happened, admitting when we’re wrong, and specifically asking for forgiveness, we can see anger begin to drain away quickly in another.
The most insecure people are those who can’t distance themselves from their loved ones enough to discipline them. Loving discipline may put a temporary emotional distance between people, but if we balance that hard-side correction with softness, we won’t lose love. If anything, we’ll enrich it.
Survey after survey shows that the number one reason for mate selection is the differences between individuals. But differences can become a devastating source of conflict in a marriage. Learning to recognize and value each other’s perspectives is one of the most positive things we can do.
When we have offended someone, we must give that person a chance to respond. True restoration is confession of wrong plus forgiveness granted. Even when crises come from external sources, we must be careful not to close the spirits of those around us. When we are under stress, we can react harshly to our mate and close his or her spirit. As we attempt to open our spouse’s spirit, our body language, muscles, facial expressions, and tone of voice must become soft, gentle, and caring. By doing this, we’re saying that he or she is valuable, that we know something is wrong, and that we are open to listen.
Like few other emotions, anger restricts and binds us, tying us in eternal knots. Forgiveness, on the other hand, sets us free from those bonds, untying the knots that hold us captive. The Lord Jesus said, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
A couple in crisis should seek out correction through counseling. It is difficult at first, and humbling. Yet what is that small discomfort and embarrassment compared to the years of love, companionship, and happy memories they will share for the rest of their lives? Only the wise seek correction.
Keeping our “heads together” in stressful times is something like a foxhole experience. Those who have endured the horrors of trench warfare often remain friends for life, even though their ordeal may have lasted only a few weeks or months. Why? Because shared experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, creates the common ground in which deep-rooted relationships germinate and grow. The greater the intensity of the experience, the greater the potential for bonds of love and intimacy that can bind us to one another in a beautiful relationship called a close-knit family.
Do not be threatened by the presence of conflict, but use it as a flashing road sign that gets your attention to do whatever is necessary to resolve it at some point.