Resolving Marital Conflict
In this lesson we will take from Colossians 3 some very practical help resolving marital conflict. This is good instruction at whatever stage your marriage is in.
1. Draw close to the Lord
3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. – When the marriage relationship is strained the spouses generally want to dull the pain by avoiding each other and distracting themselves. None of that will add to a resolution to this. It’s time to get as close to the Lord as you possibly can.
2. Examine your own life in light of God’s word
3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ. – How true is this statement about you? There are areas of your life that are truly not dead to self, but very much alive and demanding. Be honest with God’s word and deal with these areas that you are truly holding on to. Humility is a great way to see yourself before God. It will keep you humble in your marriage, as well.
3. Establish real achievable expectations
3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. – This verse describes our expectation. The Lord Jesus Christ says exactly what He is doing with his children by conforming us to His image and what we are to expect in this life. Frustration, bitterness, and anger are all emotions that can thrive when people don’t know what their role is suppose to be. In dysfunctional relationships, people don’t have a very good idea what is truly expected of them and they are not sure that the expectations their spouse has are even agreeable to them. Clearly lay out your expectations for each other with an open Bible.
4. Get rid of sin
3:5-6 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience; – One of the things sin will do to your mind is deceive you into thinking you are trapped in sin. The truth is that God has given you everything you need to live in victory over it. There is nothing else He needs to do. The sin is your choice. It’s time to believe that sin will destroy your marriage and you and quit fooling yourself about sin.
5. Forget the past
3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. – The verse says we all have a past. Don’t live in it. Your new life is in Christ and the best times are ahead. Bringing up the past will NOT contribute to resolving problems.
6. Establish boundaries of communication
3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. – Quit trying to destroy your spouse with your words. You have to learn appropriate and fair ways to communicate with each other. Be honest in your speech. Learn to be a good listener. Do this by trying to explain your spouse’s side of things. Often, strained communication in relationships comes from the inability to hear what your spouse is saying. Take responsibility if its true, but don’t take responsibility if it’s not. You have to learn to deal with things honestly. Ask for clarification if its needed. And be calm about it. Be clear about steps you will be taking to resolve your part of the problem.
7. Be honest about your contribution to the mess and apologize
3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; – Own your part of the lust, selfishness, cruelty, dishonesty, broken trust, spiritual weakness, unjust criticism fault finding, broken fellowship with the Lord, neglect, and retaliation. Then you need to sincerely apologize. This will allow you to go to work fixing things.
8. Go to work making your marriage a happy marriage
3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him; – Go to work making your marriage a happy marriage. Put on the new man in regards to your marriage. He is described in Colossians 3:12-14. A happy marriage takes a lot of work. Don’t just survive; thrive. There is no instant gratification in repairing a marriage. When it has been messed up it takes much more work to fix it and make it happy, than it does if you haven’t gotten off track. Turn off the TV. Converse about the good things. Nothing is more important right now than fixing the most important part of your life. Exercise the attributes of the new man in your conversation and in your action. Go to church together. The preaching and teaching will edify the new man and feed you spiritually and answer all of your questions. Read the Bible together. Pray together.