Conflict

I have seen how others handled conflict– sometimes they walk away to “clear their heads,” intending to discuss it later but they never do; while others ignore that the conflict exists.

Conflict can be difficult to handle and sometimes it might be better to not do anything about it, but if the conflict never goes away or if it gets bigger then it must be addressed and resolved. This is so true in marriages.

I think there are more opportunities for conflict in a marriage because it is a closer relationship. We also tend to see our spouses when we are tired, like after working all day, etc.

Going to the Bible and praying first is a great way to start the process of resolving the conflict. We must ask for God’s discernment to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Unresolved conflict can cause a barrier that gets wider over time. Conflict doesn’t have to be resolved “overnight,” but it should be resolved– it cannot linger. Then there must be reconciliation– where the two can move forward together.

Colossians 3:13-15 says, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…” (NIV).

To truly resolve a conflict there must be forgiveness from both parties– to forgive and to forget. Forget it as if it never happened– that’s hard, but remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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“One Thing” For All Marriages

I’ve been married for almost 32 years. There was a time when I didn’t think we would celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. My marriage had a rough start. Not only were we teenagers when we got married, but we came from different backgrounds and we had varying views of what marriage should look like. For instance, my husband was somewhat of a “traditionalist”— he wanted me to take his last name yet he wanted me to work outside of the home; I was a little less traditional and wanted to keep my last name, but I wanted to stay at home with any of my future children. The way we each handled conflict was not very healthy— we mimicked our parents in what they did when they encountered conflict in their own marriages (i.e., yelling, throwing dishes, storming out of the house, punching walls, etc.).

Although we attended church, we never really grew as a couple. Even while attending seminary together, we still “butted heads” and we had poor communication skills (at least when we spoke to each other). We took a “marriage enrichment” course, an elective for both of our degree tracks, and after a few weeks we spoke to the teacher, Dr. Cutrer (Dr. C.), and his wife. The discussion with them helped us to realize that we had a lot of work ahead of us; and even though we were more aware of how we were speaking to each other, there was still something missing in our marriage and there was still an underlying tension in our relationship.

It wasn’t until several years later that our marriage actually took a turn for the positive. I was a doctoral student at that point, and my dissertation was on long term marriages that were on the verge of a divorce and how marriage mentoring helped their marriages (https://oatd.org/oatd/record?record=handle\%3A10392\%2F3736). The focus of the study was on marriage mentoring, but there was something other than marriage mentoring that every couple said changed their marriage; and it was that one thing (technically, two things) that changed our own marriage.

That “one thing” was reading the Bible together as a couple then praying with and for each other after reading. The first time we read together felt a little awkward to me, and praying aloud was “different.” We pressed forward though, and now after nearly five years of reading the Bible and praying together, our marriage is stronger and more God-centered than it has ever been. When we have a conflict, we are no longer trying to “win” the argument, nor are we expressing our emotions in a negative way— instead, we readily apologize to one another and we find a solution to the issue.

Our marriage is not perfect, but it is more forgiving— it exemplifies Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is also less selfish than what it was—“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others [your spouse] above yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

Whenever we have the opportunity, we tell couples in our church that they should read the Bible together and pray for one another because to actively worship God through their marriage supernaturally changes the marriage and it changes the way they interact with one another. So, if you are married, and you want a more fulfilling marriage, then start reading the Bible together, and then sincerely pray for one another—you will not regret it.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti