When Julie and Greg were married, neither of them anticipated the baggage Julie brought into their relationship from her first marriage. “Though we loved each other passionately, Greg and I also fought passionately,” says Julie. “I was desperate, needy, and extremely smothering. His growing hostility culminated into an eruption.”
It wasn’t until Greg stormed out of the house shouting, “I love you, Julie — but I can’t live like this any longer!” that Julie realized the fragile state of her marriage. And only then did Julie fall to the floor and cry out to God for his help.
So Why Do You Fight?
Fortunately for Greg and Julie, their story ends happily, But after more than 30 years of mentoring women, I am sad to say I’ve seen too many couples run to divorce court when the “final fight” erupts between them.
So why do two people who promised to love one another till their dying breath resort to fighting with one another whenever a disagreement surfaces? James 4:1-2 offers this insight: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (ESV).
The apostle James is saying that ultimately, selfish desires are the cause of quarrels. And because one or both people in the conflict are focused on what they wrongly believe they must have to be happy, they will “fight to the death” to get what they want. And for some, this means the death of their marriage.
But How Do We Stop the Fighting?
If you and your husband have developed a habit of fighting with each other, or torturing one another with the silent treatment, know that bad habits do not end by merely wanting to stop them. As with anything in life, success comes from hard work. And that is true about healthy conflict resolution.
It is not enough to merely read the Bible and pray for a marriage free from conflict. Along with prayer, you must study the Scriptures and yield in obedience to what you learn.
It’s not enough to merely read the Bible and pray for a marriage free from conflict.
Once you decide to apply biblical principles to how you handle conflict in your marriage, you will bring peace into your home. Here are eight practical steps to begin the process:
- Admit you have problem. Stop saying “I’m fine,” or “Everything is fine” when it isn’t. For example if you and your husband have occasional fights that result in hurtful words or actions, you have a problem. Or if your disagreements result in days or even weeks of the two of you not speaking to one another, you have a problem. And if your husband says whatever he thinks you want to hear to keep the peace, you have a problem. And after you’ve admitted you have a problem . . .
- Acknowledge your sinful bent. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, marriage has been plagued by two people who are bent on getting their own way. At the onset of a disagreement, are you willing to ask yourself if your bent toward trying to rule over your husband is at the root of the conflict? Will you then yield your self-will to God’s plan for marriage, and ask him to help you submit to the authority he has placed over you? Even if your husband is not acting in a respectful manner, out of obedience to God’s command, you are to offer respect to your husband. One way to do this, for example, is to respond softly when your husband is harsh. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (ESV).
- Refuse to be argumentative. The next time you feel like arguing with your husband, remember 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: Love does not insist on having its own way, nor is it irritable or resentful. By refusing to be argumentative, you will show Christ’s love to your husband and initiate peace in your relationship.
- Make peace a priority. I have heard couples bicker and get into full-blown arguments over the most insignificant issues — all because they want what they want. Now you may be thinking, I hear what you’re saying, Rhonda, but I’m not the one who is argumentative. My husband picks at everything I do and is constantly looking for a fight. I can only imagine how discouraged you might feel. And while I cannot change your husband, I know who can — God. When you determine to practice righteous living no matter how your husband responds, God can bring his peace into your relationship. So what can you do as you wait on God to change your husband?
- Pray without ceasing. It is the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous that avails much, so keep your heart pure before the Lord and never stop praying for God to help your husband grow to be more like Christ. And if your husband isn’t a Christian, never give up praying for his salvation.
- Forgive your husband as many times as necessary. Don’t keep a list of your husband’s infractions to throw in his face the next time he lets you down. While our natural fleshly tendency toward withholding forgiveness makes this very difficult to do, remember that through Christ’s strength, all things are possible.
- Seek godly counselors. Look for an older Christian woman whom you trust, and ask her to pray with you and teach you from the Bible how to love your husband. Read Christian books about marriage. And consider seeking advice from your pastor or a biblical counselor (see Titus 2:1-5).
- Learn to be a peacemaker. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” You can trust that God will bless you when you determine to be a wife who makes peace with her husband.
If you want to stop fighting with your husband, take a good, long look at yourself and bring the truth of God’s Word into the ways you interact with your husband. Evaluate your contribution to your marriage conflicts, and confess your sins to God. As your husband to forgive you, and allow God’s Word to transform you. Every one of these actions will go a long way toward bringing more peace into your marriage.
Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all people.” God has called his children to dwell in peace with one another. What more important place can you live out peaceful relationships than in your own home? Discipline yourself to become a woman of peace, and soon you will find that resolving conflict God’s way will become your passion. When this happens, your home will be a place where peaceful relationships are enjoyed.
Taken from If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy. Copyright © 2015 by Rhonda Stoppe. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by permission.