I am by far no expert in this area, but I’m learning. Matt and I are both learning, because we want to and because we have to.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment to be a team together, no matter what, so when conflict does come up between us we know that we have two options:
1. To work through it and become stronger as a team
2. To chose not to work through it and become weaker
We decided “staying same or not growing together” is not an option.
Now just deciding to always work towards a resolution is great but we know that may only take us so far before a time would arise where emotions run crazy high and our motivation is low. This is where understanding the purpose of marriage comes in.
Because of the Bible we know that one of God’s purposes for marriage is to mirror his image. If we were to decide to give up, it wouldn’t just be our marriage at stake but God’s reputation. If we decide not to give up, we give the world an awesome opportunity to get to see in our relationship a representation of how God loves us. It goes so far beyond ourselves and our feelings! And knowing this is how we are able to press on and not let our feelings and emotions dictate our desires and actions.
So what does it look like to push past the heavy emotions or do away with our pride and desire to be right? When Matt and I were engaged, we were in a marriage prep class where we read a book together called “Preparing for Marriage.” It had some good insight on how to effectively communicate to resolve and prevent negative conflict:
First, listening to understand. That is, really listening, not listening only to what you want to hear. Keep the focus on understanding rather than judging. A piece of advice given to us from a friend is “to always think the best of your spouse”. Trust is important in marriage, and that includes trusting your husband/wife’s intention is for good; that they do have your best interest in mind.
Then, expressing to be understood (not expressing just to be right). Marriage has been teaching me a lot on being intention in choosing my words and sorting through my thoughts and emotions. In the moment, it’s easier to act and speak on how I’m feeling, but rarely does it lead to growth or not cause regret.
“But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” James 1:19
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, a man of understanding will acquire counsel” Proverbs 1:5
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32