Something that every person in their life faces constantly is conflict. Be it either with others or within themselves. This is especially prevalent in close relationships, more so in marriage. I believe God gave Carlo and me wisdom enough in this area to be of help to others. Carlo met me when I was still a young girl at school; needless to say he instantly fell in love. Of course he did, because he is just a stellar loving guy like that. While we were in the phase of getting to know one another we realised that we would rather sit and talk about the Word and things of God than any other subject. We shared our views on various subjects, and soon realised we were definitely likeminded when it comes to relationships and marriage. During one of these discussions Carlo and I were discussing the fact that many people find Christianity challenging, he then went on to say that if you struggle in a certain area of your Christianity, it is merely due to the fact that there is just too much of yourself to contend with, that it is not Christianity that is difficult, but YOU are being difficult. This to me was such a profound statement as it relates to every other area of our lives. If marriage is very difficult to you, it might just be that you are in your own way, and that the hindrance to peace is in fact your own selfish desires. Marriage, like Christianity, becomes difficult and confusing only when you are not getting what you want from the other person.

It is definitely true that every person has needs, and that we should communicate these needs to one another. But if you can only communicate your need to your spouse with an added pinch of threat or intimidation, you are in fact manipulating him instead of building a relationship. Your spouse is not there merely to supply your every need, to fulfil a role your heart has a yearning for, to out-do your parents, or give your more than they ever did. I feel the need to stress that although we have been taught since a young age to desire a knight in shining armour, and rightly so, our husbands cannot ever fulfil a role reserved only for God in His goodness. My husband is most definitely my hero, but can never be my Redeemer. Carlo has rescued me from many hardships, and he spared me many heartaches and disappointments. But God is and will always be my ultimate Saviour. In reality He is the only one who ultimately saves us from depression and disappointment. Misplaced trust leads to disappointment and hurt. We cannot let the performance of our spouse determine our measure of peace.

I think of how many times I have resented someone for not fulfilling some role I had expected, and the feelings I associate with those memories are hurt and anger. I believe I do not need to remind you that these are not thoughts and feelings inspired by God’s perspective of someone. I have resented my husband for not taking out the trash after he agreed to do so, and soon I found myself resenting him for much more than just an overflowing trash can. He rapidly evolved into a very noncompliant person in my opinion. Soon I was the girl burdened with the spouse who committed myriad indiscretions a day. Where previously I had been happy and content, I was now an embittered and unsatisfied mix of agitations. I can honestly say the poor guy couldn’t do one thing right. Of course when I put up with it and kept my suggestions to myself I felt like a supremely spiritual person for attaining taciturn discretion. I think so many times we create conflict and engage in arguments thinking it could result in peace. That fighting and having our say would smooth out the wrinkles of the situation. Although I’m an ardent believer in conflict resolution I am severely opposed to strife and fighting. Encouraging conflict creates an atmosphere conducive to manipulation and disempowerment. Getting angry at your spouse will never accomplish anything good. I’ve many times in my life felt the need to inform people that pointing out my mistakes won’t miraculously make me change my ways. Awareness of sin doesn’t necessarily eradicate it from our lives. James 1:20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We think annoyance with sin in people does the work of the Word in their lives. Just discern whether you are in fact utilising the Word of God or your own words. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. When we approach unsuspecting people with a mouth-full we intend to lavish on them, it is most certainly due to a desire to be heard or acknowledged. James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice

Let me point out that in order for you to be right, your spouse becomes the wrong one. The issue with creating unhealthy conflict is that it empowers one person at the cost of another. When we do find ourselves with conflicting ideas or opinions it is really fine for both of you to be right. Yes, right. At the same time, in the same room, in the same lifetime. For real, I mean it. We need to eliminate the idea that only one person can be right at a given time. If your spouse’s opinion differs from yours, listen. Pay attention. Hear what is being said. Ponder. Respond (optional). Remember that using the time your spouse is talking to come up with an answer is not really considered listening at all.

Franciska Merrick