Dealing with Marital Conflict Biblically

By Auntie Em, Contributing Writer

I love how the Bible is full of practical, nuts-and-bolts instructions on how to live. Even if it didn’t teach you the heart of God and promise salvation, the simple usefulness of it would make it worth reading!

Reflecting on 32 years of marriage, I remember being surprised when conflict arose, and REALLY surprised when my husband didn’t deal with it like I thought he should! I wish someone had told me early on that every marriage– even wonderful, Godly marriages between devoted Christians– will have conflict. How does that happen?

  • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5
  • The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Sorry; if you haven’t figured it out yet, your spouse is a sinner, and so are you. We are by nature selfish. As much as we love our spouses, when they disappoint or hurt us, and they will, our selfish egos rise up and start complaining, telling us to throw them under the bus and stand up for our own rights.

What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? … You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  James 4:1

What do we want? We want our way. Sure I love my husband. But when I have to choose between his way and my way, my first inclination is to go with mine! Have you noticed how many Scriptures instruct us how to be loving, unselfish, and serving? That’s because it’s so hard and it doesn’t come naturally! You won’t find any instruction on how to be stingy or self-serving; we can do that all on our own. And that’s exactly why we need to stay in the Word and keep it in front of us all the time.

  • Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:2
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Matthew 7:12
  • Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Is your temper out of control?

  • Speaking the truth in love; we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ. Ephesians 4:15
  • Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger… James 1:19
  • So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! James 3:5

Do you have a hard time letting things go? Do you tend to hold a grudge?

  • Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
  • And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
  • “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:33

The Good News of Christ shows us how to live so that our lives will be peaceful and our relationships rich and rewarding. A good motto to remember will help in all our relationships, not just our marriages:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

(Adapted from The Art of Marriage couple’s manual, page 86; FamilyLife Publishing)