You must know and believe that your spouse is not your enemy.
Can we talk about the elephant in the room? People fight. It can be awkward for us to admit because it’s an unattractive part of relationships. But hear us when we say this … the enemy wants to drive a wedge into your relationship. He wants to isolate you so you will respond to the frustration alone, without the proper counsel of others. The enemy wants you to be embarrassed about things so you will feel ashamed and refuse to bring those parts of your life into the light. To combat the plot of the enemy, we’ve created a list of 5 tips and tricks to help you have healthy conflict and to fight well.
All of us have a sinful nature, which some refer to it as our “flesh.” When we accept that fact, we learn to look at our spouse as someone who is imperfect, a work in progress. And during conflict, we can see them as someone who is struggling and in need of support, and not someone who needs to be yelled at.
Think about the way you saw your parents handle conflict. That will either make you want to handle conflict in a similar way or, more likely, make you never want to handle conflict like that. We all grew up differently and learned to handle fights differently. Some people yell, some slam doors, others shut down emotionally, and still others apologize for things they shouldn’t.
The key here is to think about what will help you resolve your anger, remain at peace even if you disagree, and implement a plan to help you do that. For example, we like to take a break to catch our breath if we feel anger arising. Here’s a tip to deal with conflict before it even happens: go to breakfast and have a nice convo about what would help you both when conflict arises (because it will). It’s imperative to have a plan in place to love each other inside of the conflict
This is a tough one but so important. When Scripture tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5), we see that reality when we are forcing our “rightness” onto someone. We might be truly right, but if we express ourselves in an unloving way, then our pride is showing, and God opposes that. So when conflict is happening, your spouse isn’t who you are fighting against—it’s God. We may be going out on a limb here, but that’s not a fight we will win (or we will want to win). Let’s show our spouses mercy, being patient and kind in moments of tension. That doesn’t mean you have to bend so far you are not sharing your feelings or your viewpoint but share it in a way that edifies your relationship.
This is our favorite tip. We are at war with the enemy. In the same way the enemy tries to get you into bed with your spouse-to-be before marriage, he wants you out of bed with your spouse in your marriage. There is a spirit working to put a wedge between the two of you. You must know and believe that your spouse is not your enemy. We will say it again for the people in the back—Your spouse is not your enemy. The enemy is your enemy. You are a team with your spouse, reflecting the love of Christ and helping each other to become sanctified into His image. When we feel conflict arisingand a fight breaks out, we both catch ourselves and recognize that the enemy is getting exactly what he wants. Instead, we will stop and work with each other to resist the enemy, and he must flee (James 4:7). A quick example of how to do that is this: when couples fight, the last thing they want to do is be intimate with each other. Sex is often withheld and used as a weapon. Instead, as you process, and both agree, use sex as a form of worship and celebration of your victory.
Find couples whom you admire—people who have been married for 10, 20, or 30+ years. Then ask them to meet with you and your spouse every month or so to talk to them about how to handle hardships in life. After all, they have paved the way, and there is so much we can learn from them! If that doesn’t work, then consider getting couples’ counseling once a month, not because you are falling apart, but because regular tune-ups are necessary. Not to mention, the level your relationship will be operating at will be out of this world because of your healthier communication style.
This was shared with us when we were newlyweds, and to our surprise it works. It’s hard to be mad at each other when you are standing in front of each other completely nude. We are even laughing as we write this because life sometimes doesn’t need to be so serious. and any chance we get just to laugh in the face of stress and let things go, the better off we will be!
Remember, there’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is powerful, but it’s only useful when we use it. That is when it becomes wisdom. Take this information and store it in your heart and apply it to help your relationship flourish even in the hardest moments.