Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marriage Series: Conflict Resolution

I know it sounds cheesy and cliche to say it, but I'll say it anyway. I'm super duper excited that Jami, from, hello from the nato's  sharing with us today. She says it like it is, and boom, I like that. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that. Thanks for writing for the marriage series Jami, you rock.

Timely post for the new hoop I'm making, eh?

i remember at the beginning of our marriage my husband and i were having an argument. you know, a yell-argument. i decided to retreat from the argument by taking a shower before we had to run out to be somewhere later that night. of course, the argument followed in the bathroom and we were bickering through the shower curtain...multi tasking at it's finest! it got silent for a bit as i finished showering, and he had to go get dressed.
all of the sudden, my husband busts in the door and yells, "YOU need to be QUICK to listen and SLOW to speak!"

i peeked out from the curtain and looked at him. do you hear yourself?!
oh. he said.
and we busted out laughing.
yelling verses at each other about was a classy moment for us pharisees.

 i can't even remember what the argument was about, but it seemed quite important at the time. something that i held dear was getting pushed on. something that i valued, something that i treasured, something that i probably "needed". and the crazy thing is, he was feeling the same way. his needs, values and treasures were also getting pushed on. 

so who's right? who "wins"?

when we look at God's word, he tells us what we're fighting about. paul says, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.

the problem in your marriage is not the other person. the problem is you.
i'll say it again so you can really hear me.
the greatest problem in your marriage is you. your desires.

but you don't understand what he's like!
if you only knew what i have to live with!
you should have heard what he said to me!
he makes me like this!

it's very easy to blame our sinful responses on the other person because it fulfills our desires for vengeance in treating someone a certain way. we need something and they won't give it to us.
but we are looking to a human to give us something only God can give us and God says it will disappoint you every time.
when we know that, we can believe the bible when it says we aren't to base our responses on the other person's behavior. we are to respond to the grace and mercy that God gives us and out of that, give forgiveness and love and grace back to a person who has wronged us.

ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. christ forgave YOU.

oh, well how did He forgive us?
romans 5:8 says, while we were still sinners, christ died for us. 
while we were still sinning. when we didn't even ask for it. when we didn't want it. when we were enemies. when we didn't deserve it.

this verse became alive to me as i walked through my husband's infidelity (which you can read about here if you're interested). but it changed my life when i saw myself in my husband. oh, that's what i look like. he's looking for something that i can't fulfill.
through that process of seeing my own sin in him, i stopped looking at my husband to fill my desires and looked to the only one who could save me from my despair and satisfy my needs. 

i was completely undeserving and God gave up his life for me. he did that for you too. he died to himself and saw our need for salvation as more important than himself. this is what we are to mirror in marriage. self sacrifice and the Gospel as seen on the cross. death to self. death to exercising wrath and vengeance, even when deserved.

when we view ourselves rightly, it's easier to give others that love freely. when we see ourselves as fallen very short, more sinful than we want to believe, more wretched than we can imagine and in need of God's grace and forgiveness shown to us in the cross, we start to say....wait, i'm just as messed up as you! and yet God pursues me and loves me even when i'm this ugly. your debt is cleared...i owe a bigger debt!

the last thing you need here is a list of conflict resolution tips and tricks to make your marriage better. without repenting for seeing your desires as more important than your spouses, those tips will fail you. they won't produce lasting heart change. you might be able to keep up with them for a couple of weeks, but it's only behavior modifying. that's why we need a savior. the best prayer is HELP! it's impossible for me to change myself. work a miracle in my heart. give me new eyes and a new heart to make me see my spouse like you see me. 

and then let God change you. ask Him to help you forgive freely and graciously. repent when you don't do that and celebrate God's gift of repentance when you do. get your eyes off your spouse trying to satisfy your needs and look at God who says, my grace is sufficient for ALL your needs.