Last week’s post was about the meaning of marriage. Why marriage exists and why it’s worth fighting for. We looked specifically at this statement from Jesus,
“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9
No longer two, but one. They are united. United means joined to his wife, holding fast to his wife, bonding and clinging to his wife. It’s an intense relationship.
We can no longer say “This is my family and that’s your family. This is my life and that’s your life. Here are my problems and there are your problems. This is my job and that’s your job, here’s what I make and there’s what you make. Here’s my money, that’s your money. This is my account and that’s your bank account. This is my debt and that’s your debt.”
No, we’re one. This is our job, our money, our account, our family, our life and our problems.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
How good and pleasant it is when a married couple live together in unity! A good marriage is possible, but conflict can make a marriage miserable. All couples fight, but there’s a difference between fighting for personal victory and fighting for unity.
Healthy couples fight for resolution for unity, unhealthy couples fight for personal victory.
There’s a fascinating study conducted by Dr. John Gottman. He studied couples who fight for 16 years, and he studied how they fight. He can watch a couple disagree for only five minutes and determine within 91% accuracy whether this couple will make it or if they will divorce. He says it’s all about how you fight, it’s not if you fight, but it’s how you fight. As couples, we are going to seek God and we are going to learn to fight well.
Three Wrong Turns in Marriage
Have you ever gotten lost on your way to a destination? You wanted to go to a certain place but wound up in a different place. Often times you end up in a different place and it’s an unpleasant place. Every time we get lost, whether it’s unpleasant or not, it’s not the place we intended to go.
That can happen in our marriages, too. Many of us got married thinking it would end up in some place pleasant, but maybe that’s not where you are. Maybe you’ve ended up in a place you did not intend to go. How does this happen?
It happens in marriage the same way it happens when we’re driving somewhere. Somewhere along the line our marriage took a wrong turn. Let’s identify some common wrong turns we take in marriage.
1. We are fighting the wrong enemy.
Somehow we believed the lie that the person we are married to is the enemy. Our culture paints men and women, husbands and wives as adversaries. Your husband or your wife is not your adversary. That’s a lie the world, flesh and the devil want you to believe. Because if you view your spouse as the enemy, you won’t remember who the real enemy is.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
We look at the person we’re married to and think they’re the enemy. They’re not the enemy, they’re the ally. We are to be our spouses greatest ally.
2. We are driven by wrong motives.
We’re driven by the wrong things in marriage. This is why last week’s post is so important. We’ve got to remember why marriage matters and why God created it.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3 NIV
The word “spend” actually means waste. You waste what you get on your pleasure. How many times do the words you and your appear in that passage? We make a wrong turn when we operate out of selfish motives. Self-interest, self-promotion, self-preservation, self-defense. The key is to focus on God. When two people are focusing on God it brings tremendous unity.
3. We are using the wrong tactics.
We’re demanding our right to be right. The greatest relationships take place between two servants. Two people that aren’t demanding their right to be right, but two people who are trying to outdo one another by yielding their rights to the other.
“An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.” Proverbs 18:19
The difference between healthy couples and unhealthy couples is that healthy couples fight for resolution, unhealthy couples fight to win. We’ve got to make a decision to change course. To quit making wrong turns and get back on track.
When you drive with GPS, it doesn’t matter how many wrong turns you make, it can always recalulate a new path.
That is a picture of how the Holy Spirit guides our lives. Everytime we make a wrong turn, He finds a way out, He recalculates. It may not have been the path He had for us, but He can always find a new path to get us back to where He intended us to go.
No matter how lost you are in your marriage, no matter how many wrong turns you’ve taken, the Holy Spirit can make a way for you. So what are the right turns I can take to get the communication in my marriage back on track? The answer is in God’s word.
How to Fight
“…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
The heaven on earth experience God wants you to have in your marriage, man’s anger does not produce that. You’ve got to do it God’s way to get that.
This one verse, inspired by God through His Holy Spirit, can bring healing and teach us how to fight.
1. Stop to listen carefully.
Most of us react rather than respond. When we get into a disagreement, we spout out our reaction and it’s often wrong. We should stop and listen carefully. But so often we are quick to speak instead. We are quick to argue back to make a point, we’re quick to throw a low-blow in, we’re quick to speak and we need to, instead, be quick to listen.
When we start to fight, stop and focus to hear what the other person is saying. Here’s what Scripture says if we don’t do it:
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2
The key is understanding, rather than immediately reacting when we hear something we disagree with. Take time to make sure you hear what’s being said. People don’t hear what you say, they hear what they think you said. Most arguments flow out of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Most arguments are about things people didn’t really say or really didn’t mean. People end up talking past each other.
One of the best ways to solve that problem is repeat back to your spouse what you heard them say. Not in a condescending way or defensive way. You say, “This is what I think you’re saying.” It gives you the opportunity to force yourself to listen. It gives the opportunity to your spouse to be affirmed that you hear what they’re saying. It gives the opportunity for misunderstanding to removed. It gives the opportunity for you to be an ally and begin to understand why your spouse feels a certain way.
2. Guard your words faithfully.
Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Our words can wound so deeply. The more you love someone and the more they love you, the more weight your words carry. You have to guard your words faithfully.
“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23
A couple of great questions to ask yourself are, “Should it be said? Should it be said now?” In the middle of a conflict, that’s not the time to bring up other issues or try to fix everything that’s wrong in a marriage.
Let’s look at some things you need to leave out of conflict, some things to guard your marriage. Because even if you follow these follow these rules, you’re still going to get in a fight and you need to establish some rules for the fight.
- Never call names.
- Never say never or always.
- Never raise your voice.
- Never get physical.
- Never get historical.
- Never threaten divorce.
- Never quote the Bible or your pastor to prove your point.
If you took those things out of your arguments, just you, because you can’t control your spouse. Your arguments would be a whole lot more productive.
3. Handle your anger righteously.
This is so important because you will get angry and we want to handle it being led by the Spirit of God.
“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27
You can get angry, being angry is not a sin, it’s what you do with your anger. In fact, there are things we are supposed to be righteously angry about.
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Meaning, don’t let too much time pass. Address it, forgive it, let it go. Don’t let it fester because when you do, you wake up every day angry.
Maybe your marriage has taken those turns, but you’ve got to make a decision, that you will say:
In time of conflict, I will fight for unity, not for personal victory.
If you seek God and follow His Spirit leading you in these three things, we believe that the presence of God can bring healing in any relationship.
What marriages need, is to be united in thought, mind and purpose. Marriages need something bigger than their problems and disagreements to live for. What can happen in marriage is that we spend so much time trying to work on our problems, rather than have something bigger than our problems.
We’ve been talking about this Rock Brook Conference for several weeks now, and it’s coming up soon. It’s a church conference about the DNA and the heartbeat of our church. It’s also about how God meets your deepest needs. We all need:
- Power to Live On
- People to live with
- Principles to live by
- Profession to live out
- Purpose to live for
So often, we become so distracted in life. We begin to only react to all the urgent things in life we stop living for the important things. Join us March 29-30, to refocus your life and hear the heartbeat of this church. Your life and your marriage can be blessed by it and bring about the righteous life God desires. To Register visit: RockBrook.org/Events
One final tool for your marriage a simple prayer you can pray every day this week. Maybe you want to pray it three times a day this week. But simply ask God for the benefits of this verse in his word.
Pray: “God help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak & slow to become angry. I want the blessing of the righteous life You desire.”
This message is part 2 of two messages on marriage. Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on the meaning of marriage? Why does marriage matter? God created it: (1) For the connection of men & women, (2) For the multiplication of the human race, (3) For the protection of children, (4) For the perfection of our character, (5) For the construction of society, and (6) For the reflection of our union with Christ.
“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT
Hear the Word
We all fight – but, if we seek God and allow Him to teach us how to fight well, we will not only save our marriages from destruction but we will also experience God’s blessing. So, the question isn’t if we fight, but how we fight. Healthy relationships fight for resolution; unhealthy relationships fight to win. Here are three rules we can use to fight fair: Stop and listen; guard our words; and manage our anger righteously. If we decide during non-conflict times to use these rules in times of conflict, our relationships can thrive as God desires. In times of conflict, we will fight for unity, not for personal victory!
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
1. Which of the three wrong turns in marriage stood out to you the most?
- Stop and listen carefully. “…quick to listen”
“Fools have no interest in understanding: they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2
Discuss how being a good listener would affect the way you interact with your spouse. What steps can you take to become a better listener?
- Guard my words faithfully. “…slow to speak”
“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23
Making firm decisions during times of peace can help us manage conflict. What have you taken off the table that allows you to fight well and what do you still need to take off the table?
- Handle my anger righteously. “…slow to become angry”
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV
Discuss practical steps you have in place or need to put in place to resolve conflict in your relationships.
Tell Someone Else
Pray for God’s blessing and peace on each group member and their relationships. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and unity to be present.