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Five Principles of Resolving Christian Marriage Issues

Sometimes the problems in a Christian marriage are so severe that the best thing that the couple can do is to seek out Christian counseling services. Other times, a couple may just need a few ideas to help them move things back in a positive direction. So often, couples continue to do the same thing that is not working over and over again because it is the only way they know.

But it is foolish to continue to do something if it is not working. As the TV personality Dr. Phil often asks, “And how is that working for you?” He already knows the answer – that it is not working well for them otherwise they would not be seeking help.

In this article, we will look at several thoughts on how Christian couples can successfully deal with their marriage conflicts. These things are not difficult to do but can make a big difference in one’s marriage.

One, marriages that last a long time and are happy to boot, are marriages where both the husband and wife are willing to make personal changes. It is true that we cannot change another person, and shouldn’t try to. But we can make adjustments in ourselves and this is a requirement to have a good marriage. Another word for this is adaptability. Said more simply, it is the ability to not only take in a marriage but also to give.

Couples can respond to a conflict in one of two ways. One way is to stubbornly insist on one’s own way which easily descends into anger and heated arguments. The other way, is to look outside of oneself and consider the interests of the other person. This approach can lead to compromise or in some cases even one partner giving in to the way of the other.

Of course, in a good marriage it is not the same person who is the one always giving in to the other. If a couple chooses to be adaptable they communicate respect to each other and both husband and wife will be more inclined to work out issues agreeably.

Second, do not try to squelch disagreements. All marriages have them and the good ones acknowledge that and deal with them appropriately. If either the husband or the wife pushes conflict down within it simply grows over time. It does not do away with the disagreement but only hides it temporarily. The danger is that repressed conflicts will grow into bitterness and resentment. Once it has reached that stage, it can be much more difficult to resolve the problems.

As an example, let’s say that a wife is trying to discuss a problem with her husband. But he simply does not want to deal with it and remains quiet. He thinks that by not talking about it further that the whole issue will simply go away. It won’t. It may anger his wife and she will continue to bring it up in the future trying to get some response from her husband. Eventually he is likely not to respond, but to react. And the reaction will be negative. He is frustrated and she is frustrated. They both may become angry and the whole thing easily degenerates into a fight.

There are other ways that couples may try to avoid conflict. Some will make a joke about it and refuse to become serious over what is truly bothersome to the other. One may avoid conflict by beginning to talk about something else or even walking out of the room. You can imagine how frustrating that would be to a husband or a wife who felt strongly that an issue needed to be dealt with. Good marriages are not marriages that never have any problems. They are marriages that recognize problems when they arise and deal with them as quickly as possible.

Third, while we have stressed the necessity of dealing with conflicts, it is essential to keep the focus on resolving the conflict rather than the conflict itself. Certainly, the issue at hand needs to be clearly understood but once it is, the couple’s efforts should center around coming up with workable solutions. Instead of attacking the problem, husbands and wives began attacking each other. They only see good in themselves and bad in their partner.

As they attack and counter attack everything begins to spiral downward. Here is some of what begins to take place. He accuses her of something and so she reacts by blaming him for something else. He asks a question that is hostile in nature and so she returns with a threat of some sort against him. He puts her down and so she calls him a name.

A couple must recognize if these tactics have entered into the conflict and turn away from them to focus on the problem. Each person should try to look more at how they contribute to the problem and what they can do to help fix it. The other approach will never solve the problem and in fact will make it much worse.

Fourth, avoid piling on past grievances on your partner during an argument. Some call this gunnysacking. A farmer uses a gunnysack or burlap bag to hold vegetables or other items. These sacks are large and deep. As we go through marriage, we can figuratively carry around a gunnysack and whenever our partner says something or does something that we interpret negatively, we place that in our gunnysack. Then when an argument comes about on most anything we reach into our gunnysack and start pulling out things from the past to pile on to her mate.

It is a weapon that is used to either try to win an argument or even to hurt the other person. If a mate is being gunnysacked against, it is difficult to respond to so many grievances that wants. And so, their reaction usually is to pull out their own gunnysack and use the same tactic. If not that, then it produces in them resentments that damages the relationship beyond the immediate problem.

Fifth, avoid passive aggressive behaviors. People who do this generally are those who have difficulty handling conflict directly. This is a sneaky way of trying to get one’s own way. Instead of an overt thing said or done, this is some indirect action in which the person can claim that they had no ill intent. For example, a wife may ask her husband to do something that he really doesn’t want to do. And while he agrees to do it, he in some way messes things up in the hope that she will not ask him to ever do it again. She might think that he messed up on purpose but he would deny it. You can see how this can create distrust in the relationship.

These are just a few principles that can help Christian marriages in handling inevitable conflicts. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, a couple may find that they need to seek additional Christian marriage counseling help.

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