All marriages have their struggles. Some struggles are heavier than others, but those moments are still there. When dealing with difficult situations in your marriage, it’s wise to approach the situation the best way possible.
This isn’t some fleeting relationship. You are making a life with this person. Handling an already difficult situation the wrong way can steer things down a road you may not recover from. Here are a few tips to help you work through those difficult moments well.
Take a step back
When your spouse does or says something that causes a conflict, don’t be quick to jump on their case. Instead, take a step back and think about the situation. What did they do? Could there be a reason that you aren’t seeing? Could they be dealing with something you don’t know about, or that you simply haven’t noticed? Maybe you misunderstood the situation, and you might need to reevaluate what actually happened. Taking a step back allows you look into the situation a bit deeper, before reacting to it. Then, pray about it. Praying about it allows you to see your heart and reaction for what it is. It allows you to turn things over to God and ask him for counsel and guidance.
Proverbs 10: 19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Ecclesiastes 9:17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
When approaching the situation, ask questions. Not accusatory questions, but real questions. Maybe they yelled at you, or belittled you in front of friends or family. Ask if they realized they did this. Don’t accuse them of doing it.
Maybe it’s something obvious, and that approach won’t do it. Maybe your spouse lied to you about where they were going, or they’re doing something sinful and damaging to your marriage. In this case, let them know you know. Then ask why they are doing these things.
Most importantly, stay calm. Don’t raise your voice, and don’t speak in an accusatory tone. Your goal is to get the information so you can then deal with it properly. If you start working through this situation with a negative attitude, you’ll sour a resolve from the get-go.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Focus on them
When someone does something that hurts our feelings, we are eager to let them know how they made us feel. This is important to communicate, but it should come after addressing the issue in their own heart. If your spouse is doing something sinful or damaging to your marriage, or lying to you about where they are going – that is damaging to their soul and heart. You love this person and you want them to do right and live well. So help them work through that in their heart. Approaching it this way reduces the possibilities of them feeling attacked and cornered.
Philippians 2:3-4 but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
Matthew 22:39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
1 Peter 4:8-9 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Express your feelings
After the previous step, you need to let them know how this affects you. Sometimes people can get so caught up in their sin, they don’t consider the effect it can have on those around them. Often times this leads to distrust, frustration, rejection, and anger. Ultimately causing more issues between the two, but this time as a reaction from the offended spouse. But be cautious in how you do this. Our hearts fool us easily into thinking that what we feel or think is more important than the situation. And while it’s important to communicate these things, it’s also important to be wise about how and when you communicate them.
Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Plan a resolve the issue
In order to close the chapter on any situation, you both need to figure out a plan of attack. How are you going to prevent this from continuing on and from happening again? This is very unique to each situation, but it must be discussed. If both heart’s desire to resolve this issue, a plan will be put in place. Maybe counseling is needed, maybe breaking ties with unhealthy friendships is needed, or maybe the two of you need to be more open with each other. Whatever the resolve be, it must be decided upon. And then you both need to take action on it. If a plan of resolve isn’t reached, you’re only keeping the door open for the issue to continue on, or allowing for it to get worse.
Ephesians 4: 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
How do you and your spouse deal with conflict?