When Couples Fight

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Once when we were living in California Sarah and I went over for dinner at the home of some married friends. As soon as we walked in the door we could feel that something was off. I couldn’t put my finger on it precisely, maybe it was something about their body language or the way they talked (or didn’t talk) to each other, but after a few minutes of hanging out it began to dawn on us that our arrival must have interrupted a fight. They were trying very hard to act normal, but something was clearly amiss. Sarah, who has always been a very direct sort of communicator, asked, “Were you guys just fighting before we got here?”

That opened the floodgates, and they began to share their story. It was over something silly, but no fight ever feels silly at the time. They may have been able to joke about it later but right then the feelings were still raw and close to the surface. Then Sarah and I shared about our most recent fight, and back and forth we went swapping war stories until by the end of the night we were all laughing together again.

There is a reason why we take marriage vows, not wishes, and that reason is conflict. The presence of vows at a wedding ceremony give voice to an implied expectation that it will be hard at times to remain together. The best marriages are not usually marked by an absence of conflict, but rather by the ability to work out and negotiate differences with one another. Anyone who has been married for more than five seconds can tell you a thing or two about fighting with their spouse, but unlike other things that we get lots of practice at for some reason many couples get worse at conflict the more they experience it.

I think God’s Word can help look at conflict in their marriage differently, and break existing patterns that are doing harm to some of our marriages.

In this message we return to Ephesians 5:22-33 to see what principles it holds about managing conflict in our marriages. I hope you can listen in.