Sun, Aug 04, 2019

Communication in Marriage Part 3 - Working Through Difficult Disagreements

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49 mins 11 secs

Marriage Communication – Part 3 – ABCs of Working THROUGH Disagreements
WCC 8-4-19


Imagine a married couple named Mary and George. Imagine that they’ve been listening to these sermons on marriage, and for the most part they are committed to the principles that we have covered. They believe that God has given them marriage. They believe that their marriage is supposed to glorify Him. They recognize they God has given each of them roles.

George is committed to loving and serving Mary like Christ loves and serves the church. Mary is committed to respecting and serving George, just as the church respects and serves the Lord. Both seek to be godly in their communication. They don’t belittle each other with their words. They don’t demand unrighteous things. But still, after all this, they’ve got an issue in their marriage they can’t work through.

It’s about Mary’s brother Bob. Bob is her brother. The kids call him Uncle Bob. She loves him, but he’s not the best role model. Uncle Bob doesn’t want anything to do with the Lord. His language is salty. And his view of people are not something that Mary and George want to model for their kids.

And so, Mary and George argue about what to do with Uncle Bob. Mary thinks spending time with him might reach him for Christ. George doesn’t want Uncle Bob influences on the kids. George is okay with Bob visiting their home (because they can control things), but Mary wants to go see Uncle Bob at his home, and George is afraid that in his natural habitat, Bob is going to say something George doesn’t want the kids to hear. And so, Mary and George can’t agree on what to do with Uncle Bob and every time his name comes up, it turns into an argument, and they’re starting to feel defeated.

That kind of scenario plays out in homes every day. Maybe it’s related to work, or friendships or Facebook. Maybe it’s related to income or spending. Maybe it’s related to intimacy issues in the bedroom. Maybe it’s vacationing, or parenting, or involvement at church…

Many marriages have some issue we can’t seem to work through, and this morning, we’re going to talk about some practical ways we can work through difficult disagreements. This is a tough problem. I have a stack of books on marriage, and hardly any of them give practical advice for how to work though deep and difficult disagreements… yet, this is one of the biggest issues that rob marriages of joy!

So, I’ve been writing these principles down as I’ve been working on this sermon series—John and I even worked on some a few weeks ago— And I wanted to get as many as I could into this message, and as I was putting them into an outline, I found they naturally lent themselves to a format that followed the letters of the alphabet. So, rather than having three main points with a million subpoints, I’m just going to give you the subpoints in a format that follows the ABCs. And to make it easier to remember, I’ve put them in your bulletin on a piece of card stock so you can put it on your fridge (available on the sermon page under Downloads/Notes). We’ll also have them on the screen.

My hope is that this message gives you helpful principles for working through difficult disagreements, whether it’s with your spouse, your kids, people at work, or anyone in your life.

So with that as an introduction—let’s talk about the ABC’s of working through difficult disagreements.

Let’s start with A…

A—Accept this as a Transformational Opportunity

Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled."

We can be bitter about having conflict. Sometimes, the very fact that we’re having “conflict”, is part of the “conflict!” We can be so upset by the fact that we don’t have peace, we get even more upset, which makes the problem worse!

We need to recognize that no marriage is perfect and the challenges in our marriage are part of God’s path for us to become more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." God is using our marriage to shape us to be more like Christ. Rather than being bitter that we have this problem at all, we can accept this as a transformational opportunity to follow Christ, to lay down our life and pick up our cross and give our backs to the whips and learn what it means to be self-less and Christlike through difficult valleys of darkness.

Trust God and know that He has a divine plan in what you’re going through. And accept this as a transformational opportunity to become more like Christ, and don’t be bitter about it. Along those same lines…

B—Bury the Past

This is the principle of forgiveness. Colossians 3:12–14 says, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Those are great principles for working through any conflict.

Difficult disagreements require us to be compassionate, and kind, and humble, and gentle and forgiving. Often, difficult disagreements stretch out over months, maybe years. And over all that time—wrong words have been used. Wrong tones have been used. Things have been said at the wrong time in the wrong way. You just have to let that stuff go.

Bury the past—Not in some strange way where you’re denying reality—but bury the past in a humble-forgiving kind of way. Don’t stew over the past. Don’t hold it against them. Don’t bring it up. And when the record player of your mind wants to replay a past complaint, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and turn off that “player” and bury it. We’ll talk about forgiveness more next week, so let’s go on to “C…”

C—Consider their Point of View

Last week we looked at Philippians 2:4 which says, "do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." We explained that the word “look out” means to “closely examine”, and in Philippians 2:4 we are to closely examine the interests of our other people. And when it comes to difficult disagreements, we need to closely examine our spouse’ point of view. What do they want? Why do they want it? What are their reasons? What are their fears? What are they hoping to accomplish and why? We need to put time and effort into understanding our spouse… and then “D”…

D—Don’t Dig In

You’re not going to work through difficult disagreements if you’re digging in. Sometimes, our spouse might want something and we dig in and say, “no way!” If our spouse is asking us to rob a bank, and we should dig in on that… but when Mary wants to have Uncle Bob over for dinner—and if we dig in and say “No way!”, we’re putting ourselves into a form of slavery.

Maybe our spouse wants us to be a little bit different and we enslave ourselves to our personality, saying: “This is how I am!” Maybe our spouse wants us to do a hobby a little less, and we enslave ourselves to our hobbies, saying: “I won’t give this up!” Sometimes we perpetuate difficult disagreements because we’re acting like slaves to things we’re not enslaved too!

We are not enslaved to our personality! Our happiness is not enslaved to that hobby! And so, there’s no need to don’t dig in and act like slaves when we’re not! Romans 6:6 says, "our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin." We might say, “Well this isn’t sin!” and yet, when we act like slaves—and hurt our spouse by digging in—that’ probably sin!

When a person digs in, it’s not just slavery, it’s often idolatry. In the biblical sense, an idol is anything that we want so badly we’re willing to sin to get it, or we sin when we don’t get it. Even good things can be idols when we’re willing to sin to get our way. Vacations can be an idol. Hobbies can be an idol. Friendships can be an idol. Entertainment can be an idol. Our phones can be an idol! If we’re willing to sin to get our way, it’s probably an idol.

So, what do you do? When we recognize an idol in our life, we need that to bring that to the cross to have it crucified by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, "for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." And so, the way we stop digging-in on issues is to recognize that we’re not enslaved to them, and if we’re acting like we are, that’s an idol, and we need to bring that idol to the Lord and ask Him to put it to death in our life. We don’t have to dig in. Let’s go on to “E”…

E—Erase Extreme words like “always” & “never”

Words like “always and never” should always be avoided and never be used. They just inflame disagreements. They shut the other person down. They’re rarely true and usually just polarize the conversation. Ephesians 4:15 calls us to “Speak the truth in Love” … Psalm 15:2 says a righteous man speaks truth in his own heart. So, when it comes to words like “always” and “never”, since they’re probably not true, just erase them from the words you use in disagreements. Let’s go on to “F”

F—Focus on God’s Glory

One of the first casualties of a difficult disagreement is our focus on God’s glory becomes a focus on ourselves. This is part of the problem with Adam and Eve. Eve questioned God; Adam joined in. They sinned and when God called them into account: They blamed each other and Satan. Their focus was on anything but God’s glory.

When we are in a difficult disagreement, we still need to focus on God’s glory by demonstrating the wisdom of following His ways. We can even glorify God when we’re in a disagreement with an unbeliever because we’re showing them God’s principles for working through difficult disagreements. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 10:31–33: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved." Paul was not seeking his own profit; he sought the glory of God. And when we’re seeking His glory, it will affect the words we use. And that’s the next principle:

G—Gentle Words and Gentle Tone

The Bible is filled with commands for us to be gentle… Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentle spirit be known to all men." James 3:17 says, "Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." The word for “gentle” in Philippians and James means to be “gracious and patient and restrained”. So often conflict occurs when we are not seeking to be patient and restrained, but instead we’re seeking to be pushy and demanding. We try to control the other person with our words.

Sometimes parents use controlling speech with their kids. They’ll say: “Sit here and eat your breakfast!” If the kid actually sits and eats, things are okay… But if the kid is still playing, we’ll increase our controlling words and say something like: “Come here right now and sit down and eat your breakfast!” We’re trying to control them with our words.

Now, there might times where we need to talk to our children with controlling words (like to get out of the street), but probably not our spouse. Controlling words are hardly ever good for a disagreement. We’re not going to help the situation by shouting… “I’ve told you over and over, never have Bob over for dinner!” Or shouting back “I’ve told you he’s coming, and you better deal with it!” That kind of controlling speech only perpetuates difficult disagreements. Instead, gentle, gracious words often come out as requests… “Hey Honey, what do you think about having Bob over for dinner next week?” You’re asking a question instead of giving a command. You’re leaving the decision with them. Gentle speech does not seek to control people. We respect them and allow them to have their own opinions. Let’s go on to the next letter in dealing with difficult disagreements…

H—Heal their Hurts

James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." Now, the “healing” in that verse is “healing” from God’s judgment on our sin, but we need to recognize that our sin is hurting our relationship with God and one another. The fact is, we are often directly sinning against our spouse by arguing with them; and that sin pollutes our relationship with God.

Sometimes a person will say, “It’s okay that I yelled and argued because they said that to me!” Often, they’re sinfully reacting to a real concern that’s on their spouse’ heart, and that arguing response is sinful.

Let me give two common examples where the sheer fact that we’re arguing probably means we’re sinning. One example is a spouse who is desperate for love, and they want their spouse to listen to them and talk with them. And so, they bring it up and the other spouse is annoyed by the very topic, and they launch into an argument. That’s wrong. If our spouse tells us they’re not feeling loved by us, or we’re not listening to them, it’s wrong to get into an argument over that. They need kind words, encouraging words, not arguing words. You can be sure that the very fact that we’re arguing, means we’ve hurt them. And we need to go back and apologize, because a spouse should never have to fight to feel loved.

Along the same lines, if our spouse brings up concerns about intimacy in the bedroom, just bringing it up means they’re probably feeling a lot of pain. And if we let that spiral into an argument we’re probably sinning and we need to go back and apologize because we let their concern over such a personal matter turn into an argument.

Those are just two examples of where an issue is so personal that if we them it into arguments, we’re probably sinning. Some other examples include: Caring for elderly parents. Questions about Retirement Savings. Matters related to grief. There are some things that are so personal, we’re in the wrong if our spouse brings them up and we respond with arguing. If we’ve done that, we need to go back to them and say, “Honey, I know that issue is important to you, I was wrong to let it spiral into an argument. I’m sorry.” If we make that our regular habit, it will greatly help us work through difficult disagreements. A similar principle for working through disagreements is to…

I—Identify if You’re the Source of Conflict

The problem may be You (in fact, it probably is). Sometimes our conflict is because neither of us are walking with God. James 4:1–3 says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures!"

Often our conflict stems from our focus on ourselves and our own petty selfishness and it will greatly help us work through disagreements when we recognize that we’re the problem. (Our spouse thinks so anyway, we might as well agree on something!) And when we recognize that we’re the problem, we need to go to the Lord and seek His grace to change.

If you really want to bring healing to your home, join with your spouse in prayer, and ask God to help you change for their sake. “Lord, Mary wants to have Bob over for dinner. I don’t want that. Please help me change.” That kind of prayer shows your spouse that you recognize your role and that you’re seeking to change…and that dove-tails with “J”…

J—Join Together in Prayer.

The ultimate solution to your disagreement is to put Christ in the center of your home and learn from Him and listen to Him so that you might walk with Him and glorify Him! So, you need Him working on your behalf.

In 2nd Chronicles 20—The nations gathered to fight against Judah and so King Jehoshaphat called the entire nation to fast and seek the Lord. Then he stood before the people and proclaimed God's reassurances that He was with them and would fight for them. And the next morning, the Jews followed the Lord's words and indeed, God attacked their enemies and their enemies fought within themselves, and the entire enemy army was decimated. When things get difficult, we need to join together in prayer (and maybe even fasting prayer) so that we might seek the Lord to act on our behalf. And that will help us with “K”…

K—Kiss Goodnight (even after a difficult argument).

We said this a couple weeks ago, but it bears repeating…Ephesians 4:26 says, "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger." My pastoral professor in Bible college told us he never went to be angry with his wife. Corinne and I have tried to follow that principle and it has served us well. Sometimes it means staying up late to work through issues, but at the end of the day, you end up going to bed, holding hands, praying together and kissing each other good night. And that’s good stuff.

Okay, let’s pause for a moment because we’ve just gone from A to K. If Mary and George were to bring these principles to bear upon their disagreement about Uncle Bob, they would… Accept the Reality of the Situation. They’d bury the past and let it go. They’d consider what the other is saying. They wouldn’t dig in. They’d focus on God’s glory and use gentle words. They’d heal the hurts with confessions and apologizes. They’d look to identify if they were the source of the conflict. They’d join in prayer and be sure to kiss goodnight.

If they just applied these principles, they’d probably work through much of their disagreement. But if they still couldn’t, we’ve got a bunch more letters to go… So, let’s go on to “L”

L—Listen to your Spouse

We mentioned this last week. James 1:19 says, "everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." So much conflict comes from not listening to our spouses. Listening means understanding what they’re trying to say, why they’re saying it, and what they want us to do with it.

Listening means putting down the distractions and looking at their body language, listening to their tone, and not just hearing their words, but understanding what they’re trying to say.

In the example of what to do about Uncle Bob... when George and Mary are talking, they need to listen for what the other person values. They need to listen for their fears and concerns. And they need to look for ways to honor Uncle Bob while also honoring the Lord and one another’s concerns. When two people really listen to each other, they’re a long way down the path towards working through a difficult disagreement. Let’s go on to “M” …

M—Maintain Love and Respect

We’ve mentioned this principle several times over the past few weeks, so I won’t belabor it. Ephesians 5:33 says, "…each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." God has hardwired women to need love and men to need respect. And just as the men are to offer their wives unconditional love, wives are to offer their husbands unconditional respect. So, when a couple is haggling about something like Uncle Bob, the husband should be looking for ways to show his wife love in that conversation. He shouldn’t tear her down. He shouldn’t belittle her concerns. He should love her. And the wife should maintain respect for her husband. She should respect his views. She should respect his concerns. Love and respect are like oil that lubricates the gears of reconciliation. Along those lines…”N”

N—Never Seek to Wound with your Words

We’ve all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But that’s not true. We can wound people with our words. Psalm 64:3 speaks of those who have "sharpened their tongue like a sword. They [aim] bitter speech as their arrow…" The person who does this, thinks about something over and over — each time, sharpening their words to cut even deeper… and then, in the heat of the argument, they fire that bitter arrow, and strike the other person right in the heart!

That’s evil, and it should never be part of a Christian’s method of disagreement. Never cut down your spouse. Never insult your spouse. Never mock your spouse. Never try to hurt your spouse as much as you feel they have hurt you (it is better to be wronged, that to inflict the wrong). So, never seek to wound with your words, instead “O”…

O—Overlook the Offense

Proverbs 19:11 says, "A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression." One of the best character traits that we can develop in life is being a person who overlooks offenses. People will always offend us. Someone will cut us off. Someone will snub us. Someone will dislike the food we bring to a potluck. We need let people have their emotions and even let them be frustrated with us and not be quick to be offended.

Ecclesiastes 7:21 says, "Do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you." Imagine someone who gets offended every time one of the servants mutters something about them. “He his pillows just a certain way!” “He can’t do anything on his own!” “If that person were to take offense at every complaint ever uttered against them, that would be a horrible situation! In the same way…we should not be offended every time someone says something negative about us. We are to overlook the transgression. We’re also to…

P—Practice Patience

Galatians 5:22 gives us the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, _______, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Did you catch which one I missed? I find that when people recite the fruit of the Spirit, if they ever skip one, it’s often: “patience”. It’s as if people don’t want to admit that when we’re being impatient, we’re not walking with the Spirit.

Patience comes from walking with God and trusting in Him. Patience comes from having a higher purpose than our own will and our own agenda. Patience is the overflow of peace where we do not want to disturb our peace by rushing a matter. And so, a patient person does not get annoyed when they have to wait a few moments. A patient person does not demand they jump every time we call. When it comes to major disagreements like Uncle Bob, a patient person will allow their spouse time to work through the issue.

When a husband and wife practice patience with one another they give up bickering and barking. They don’t demand their spouse come to their point of view that very night. They allow the Spirit of God to work. The couple who practices patience, is on their way towards working through difficult disagreements. Let’s go on to Q…

Q—Quit wrangling!

2 Timothy 2:14 says, "Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers." So, quit wrangling. Instead…

R—Rather be Wronged

1 Corinthians 6 contains a passage about lawsuits, which are serious disagreements! But Paul tells them in verse 7: "Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?" The principle is that if someone has to be wronged, and if someone is going to be treated unjustly, it should be me who receives the injustice, rather than me who inflicts it!

That’s the opposite of so many arguments. Half the reason that a couple might fight late into the night is because one or both people are trying to extract a confession from the other about all the wrongs they’ve done! We should rather “be wronged” than do wrong. And when each person willing to be wronged, rather than do wrong, that home is on their way to working through disagreements. So, “R”, “Rather be wronged”. Let’s go on to “S”.

S—Serve Jesus as you Serve Your Spouse

There are times when everything in us just wants to give up. We’ve gone around and around and around and we’re getting nowhere, and we just want to give up. In that moment, we have an opportunity to serve the Lord’s purposes or Satan’s. Satan would love for us to give up and show the futility of serving God. He’s constantly tempting us to go down that path! But we are servants of Christ, and sometimes the only thing in us moving towards righteousness is a holy desire to serve Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." And the very next verse (verse 18) Paul talks about marriage… There are times when serving our spouse is serving Jesus. And in those moments, we can seek to work through disagreements with a prayer in our heart that says, “Lord, I am doing this for you…” So, we need to serve Jesus as we serve our spouse. And “T” ... we need to…

T—Trust in Him

Sometimes, our disagreement is because one (or both) of us isn’t trusting the Lord. With Uncle Bob, either Mary or George may not be trusting that God would work in that situation. When it comes to some other disagreement, we may not be trusting that all need is found in God, and so we fight for our rights because we don’t believe God will provide. Jesus said in Matthew 6:31–33, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Those who trust in the Lord will often find peace and rest in their home. Let’s go on to “U”…

U—Understand your Spouse’s Limitations.

Because of pride, many of us think we deserve a better lot in life. We deserve a better husband. We deserve a better wife and we forget the warning about the grass being greener on the other side.

We need to understand (and accept) the limitations of the spouse God has given to us. 1st Peter 3:7 tells husbands to dwell with their wives with understanding, and in many ways, wives need to understand their husbands too! When we understand our spouse, we’ll understand what they need, what they want, what they’re saying.

We’ll also understand that they have limitations. They are not perfect! And we should not demand that they treat us perfectly, and say things perfectly, and do everything just the right way. We need to understand them, and understand how God has wired them, and accept them for who they are. When we understand them, we can go on to “V” …

V—Value their Values

We talked about this last week, and I believe that this single principle offers huge hope for working through difficult disagreements. This principle is rooted in Philippians 2:3 which says, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." The phrase “more important” means that we’re holding them in a position where what they want and need is more important to us than even ourselves! We’ve made their needs our priority! We’ve made their values our own!

This is a crucial piece to finding harmony in the home. Imagine the harmony that we would have if we said to our spouse: “I hear what you’re saying, and I’ve made that my value too! I want to reach Uncle Bob for Christ! I want to have righteous boundaries with him! And I want to join with you in figuring out that that looks like!” If we all had this mindset towards one another, so much of the conflict in our homes would go away.

Alright—let’s pause again for a moment. If you’re having difficult disagreements try to… Listen to your spouse. Maintain your love and respect. Never wound them. Overlook offenses. Practice patience. Quit wrangling. Rather be wronged. Serve Jesus as you serve your spouse. Understand your spouse’s limitations. And value their values. If we follow these principles, we’ll make great headway in working towards peace!

The reality is… these points, are not easy. It takes work to have peace and unity in the home. And that’s the “W”…

W—Work hard

Back in Genesis 26:22, there’s an account of Abraham’s Son “Isaac”. Isaac was a grown man, but he could not find peace with his neighbors. Every time Isaac moved to a new area, he got into problems with the people. It took three moves before Isaac was finally able to find peace with his neighbors in Genesis 26:28.

Sometimes, it takes a lot of work to find peace. Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." It’s going to take work to maintain peace and unity in the home. It takes work to listen to your spouse when you’re disagreeing with them. It takes work to maintain love and respect in your speech. It takes work to quit wrangling and rule your spirit.

If you’re not willing to put the work in, these ABCs won’t get you out of the driveway! You’re going to leave here and head home and pretty soon something will come up. You’ll get irritated by something your spouse says. Or they’ll get irritated by something you say. Someone’s going to quote this sermon and the problem is only going to get worse!

It’s going to take work to follow these principles towards unity, peace and harmony. It’s hard work but if you’re seeking the Lord and trusting Him, He will strengthen you to die to self and press on. Let’s hit “X”& Y” and “Z” and then we’ll wrap up…

X-out X-Ray Vision

You don’t have x-ray vision, so don’t try to interpret your spouse’ motives. So often arguments perpetuate because we act as though we can understand what the other person is thinking. We take what they say, we interpret their motives, we twist them into the worst possible light, and then we get offended at them for the twisted motives we believe they have! Stop that! You don’t have x-ray vision, don’t try to interpret their motives. Believe the best about them. Here’s another…

Y—You might need help

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Sometimes you need help from someone else. That’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom.

You might say, “I don’t want someone knowing about my personal life!” Well, find a man and woman who are wise and tight-lipped and who know how to work through disagreements. Talk with them. Listen to what they have to say. It might save you years of heartache. One more — “Z”…

Z—Zap accusations

When you’re in a deep disagreement with your spouse, don’t accuse them of all kinds of awful things. Titus 3:2 calls us "to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men." Don’t malign your spouse. Don’t accuse them of stuff. Zap the accusations and just sit down with them on the same side of the table and work through your disagreement together, as partners, and not adversaries. When you do that, you’ll be working through difficult disagreements and working towards peace.


So, that’s the ABCs of working through Difficult Disagreements. There’s no short-cut to working through complex problems, but when disagreements come…

Accept the Reality of the Situation

Bury the past

Consider their Point of View

Don’t dig in

Erase extreme words like always and never

Focus on God’s Glory

Use Gentle words and gentle tones

Heal the hurts

Identify if You’re the Source of Conflict

Join together in prayer

Kiss good night


Maintain love and respect

Never seek to wound

Overlook offenses

Practice patience

Quit wrangling

Rather Be Wronged

Serve Jesus as you serve your spouse

Trust in the Lord

Understand Your Spouse’ Limitations

Value their values

Work hard at this

X out x-ray vision

You might need help

And Zap the accusations

These principles not only relate to marriage, but kids, and in-laws, and work and church. They’re part of the Christian life, and as you practice these principles, you’ll get better and better at them and you will find that you’re able to work through disagreements and have a home that abides in Christ’s peace.

Let’s pray


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