Pastor-teacher Don Hargrove
Faith Bible Church
MARRIAGE: THE As-Zs OF NEVERS:
C-CONFLICT (Unresolved)- Part 1
Conflict is inevitable for all married couples. It comes with the territory. It is all part of the really sharing of lives in close, meaningful and intimate ways. It is not really the conflict that can become the killer of personal love and enjoyment in marriage, but rather how the couple handles that conflict that can destroy any marriage.
Basically there are four kinds of marriages with respect to marital conflict.
1) First, there is the chaotic marriage. This is characterized by husband and wife clashing by day and night and fighting incessantly. Sooner or later they may give up and simply go their own way. Though they are legally married and under the law (and under the covers) they are one, they live apart mentally due to unresolved conflict that creates an atmosphere of friction rather than love and acceptance. Often it is not the conflict itself that causes the problem, it is the response to that conflict. It is one thing to have a different view of something, it is altogether something else if your partners thinks you are idiot for holding such a view. If conflict is not resolved through understanding, acceptance, and grace the conflict festers and suppurates. What began as a simple matter of disagreement, become the pus and poison in the marriage. The chaotic marriage relationship is a relationship that is more characterized by friction and anarchy, rather than understanding, love, and acceptance. In the chaotic marriage the partners act more like children than adults. Marriage is for adults!
2) Second, there is the power play marriage. In this marriage relationship one eventually “wins” and the other “loses.” When this happens in a marriage, both lose. Instead of a marriage where each one supports and complements the other, in the power play marriage one dominates, and the other retaliates with passive aggressive behavior and deep resentment. In the power play marriage, the dominate partner stifles the life of the other half of the marriage. A wife may dominate through nagging, cutting down, ridiculing her husband, or pouting and throwing a fit like a child. A husband may dominate his wife through bullying, intimidating, yelling, losing his temper and acting like a child as well. Marriage is for adults!
3) Third, there is the bargaining marriage. In this marriage the conflicts are resolved by the quid pro quo method (something in return). Though this is certainly more peaceable than the chaotic marriage or the power play marriage, it still depends upon a selfish assertion of one’s rights, although done in a civilized and peaceable marriage.
4) Fourth, there is the grace marriage. This marriage is modeled after God’s gracious treatment of us in Jesus Christ which gives freely and does not think in terms of friction, power, bargains or rights. Grace means to bestow gracious favors unconditionally (Eph 2:4-9; Rom 6:14). In the grace marriage the wife treats her husband in grace instead of being focused on his shortcomings - which may be many, i.e. not loving or treating her as special. In the grace marriage the husband treats his wife in grace instead of being focused on her shortcomings or flaws. In the grace marriage each partner loves and supports each other in grace. Instead of being obsessed with conflicts and with trying to change or control the spouse, in the grace marriage the partner is quick to forgive (thereby removing all friction), accept, and support the other and let God do the changing. With grace orientation the believer gains tremendous power to forgive and accept and thereby do himself or herself a great favor by removing bitterness, rancor, spite, resentment, and the like for one’s own soul.
The grace marriage requires not only mental maturity, it requires a spiritual maturity that is only possible through spiritual growth in Grace and Truth. There is no grace marriage apart from positive volition to Bible doctrine.