The Honeymoon’s Over, now what do we do? By Kevin Probst
Two of God’s most beautiful creatures come together in marriage. No marriage was ever more perfect. They both believe they have found the perfect mate. They will live their entire lives together in a state of bliss. Their relationship will be the envy of all who know them. The euphoria of being married to this perfect person will endure forever and forever. Books will be written about their lifelong romance. In the distance there can be heard the voices of the angelic host singing, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” They are showered by rice as they dash to a limousine to begin a weeklong celebration of their arrival to heaven on earth.
The week in paradise soon ends. Their feet finally hit the ground. The warm fuzzies become more fuzzy than warm. They look on in horror as the monster of reality, like a phoenix, rises out of the ashes to reveal itself. Bliss is replaced by anguish. Euphoria is replaced by uncertainty and then the horrible realization begins to set in: They are not two perfect creatures who married each other, rather, they are two self-willed sinners with two different sets of desires from two different backgrounds, they are frail, they are imperfect and they are expected to get along with each other.
Two men were standing in a cemetery. They were standing over a grave and one of the men kept saying, “How could you do that to me? Why did you die? Why did you die?” As they were about to leave they fell in step and one said to the other, “I would just like to give you my condolences. I heard you saying, ‘Why did you die, why did you die? I’m sure that was the tomb of your wife.” The other man said, “No, that was the grave of my wife’s first husband.” (1)
Is there conflict in your marriage? If your answer is “no” then please contact me, I want to help you write a book and I want to be your agent as we go on tour making millions of dollars teaching your methods for marriage.
Every marriage has conflict. It is because of how we are designed. Conflict is unavoidable.
There are three ways of dealing with conflict:
1. Full speed ahead. This is like the charge of the light brigade. When you are confronted you grit your teeth and roar like a lion and prepare to pounce on the enemy.
2. Full retreat. Those in full retreat avoid conflict at any cost. Instead of expressing their anger they suppress it. Instead of open and honest communication they just hold it all in. When they see that 'certain' one walking toward them in the grocery aisle they turn and go another direction and continue to seethe inwardly.
3. Full acceptance. These just run with their problems. They accept conflict as a normal part of life and they avoid confrontation even if it means compromising some of their core beliefs.
I had a conversation with one of my grown sons this week. His mother and I divorced nearly ten years ago and we talked of it. He said to me, "When you guys divorced everyone was so surprised, you guys never seemed to fight. I could count on one hand the number of disagreements you had."
I replied to him, "That's very true and that was the problem. We both suppressed our anger and avoided confrontation. We shoveled it all under the rug and over time we created a mountain of unresolved issues. Conflict is unavoidable but it can be constructive if you learn form it.
I have been studying a passage from the Bible that is life changing: James 4:1 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" The cause of conflict is the battle going on within yourself. Next time you are in a relational conflict ask yourself, "What yearning is in my heart that is not being fulfilled?" It is humbling to admit but I've discovered that when I experience conflict the cause is more than likely the "passions that are at war within" me.
Saying "I'm sorry" is often not enough. It only serves as a temporary band aid until the next eruption. What is needed is what Voddie Baucham refers to as "tangible repentance". (2) Tangible repentance is a change of attitude that leads to a change of behavior. If you are really sorry about your harsh words or your ugly attitude then tangible repentance will eventually cause you to cease repeating them.
Conflict is not what destroys marriages, its our failure to learn to handle conflict that brings destruction to the marriage
1. The Puzzle of Our Needs and Conflicts, Erwin Lutzer
2. Gospel Healing for Hurting Marriages, Voddie Baucham