Gospel Centered Marriage
Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication - Part 4
The best outcome for marital conflict is neither avoidance nor victory, but honor and unity. We must realize how much the mindset we take into conflict determines the outcome of our disagreements. Many of us feel like conflict is inherently wrong and, therefore, whenever it occurs, feel defeated. Others of us are competitive and when conflict arises have an instinctual “game on” response that generates a “refuse to lose” mindset.
Conflict done well can be the best friend of your marriage. This is not a nicer recasting of the mantra “fight hard; make up hard.” It is a reality rooted in the “two sides of the same coin” relationship between love and anger.
“Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it (p. 97).” C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcom
When we get angry or experience love we are saying that something matters a lot. When we get sinfully angry we are saying that this “something” matters more than our spouse (at least in that moment). When we express self-control we are saying that our spouse matters more than this “something.” This is why conflict done well is romantic – it affirms the value of the marriage over life’s circumstances or people’s failures and creates an atmosphere of safety.
Is it natural to do conflict in a way that blesses your marriage? No, if it were, there would be no need for so many books on communication. In the next two chapters we will consider the key skills to getting conflict back on track after it goes poorly – repentance and forgiveness. But first, in this chapter, we will look at the journey into conflict using four questions to guide our thinking.
- Should we address a particular hurt, concern, or disagreement?
- How do we determine what we disagree on?
- How, when, and where should we have these conversations?
- For what do we need to be most on guard during conflict?