11.19.2014

Equally Yoked: Conflict in Marriage

Time for another installment of Equally Yoked! Kelli is a newlywed living in Texas with her husband (who has the most amazing testimony). She has been such a resource for me in my own marriage and she is full of God's grace and wisdom. I am so elated with where this series has taken us all and your sweet comments and encouragement have really inspired me. I feel that Kelli's post is such a great one now that we are halfway through the series. I love how she ties in topics from previous weeks and relates them to resolving conflict in your marriage. Thank you to those of you that have come back week after week to read each installment of this series. It means more than you know.
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Hey guys!  I'm Kelli and I blog over at A Deeper Joy.  I love to talk about all facets of life from marriage to beauty and most importantly, what the Lord is doing in my life and what I'm learning from Him.  My husband and I recently moved so right now we're just trying to figure out what God has for us where we are now! Thanks for having me in this amazing series, Cassie!

Just to give you a little background, I got married about a year ago at age 30 to my best friend of three years - not having dated that whole time.  We had an awesome foundation of friendship before we took it to the step of dating which was a whole new experience for me in the dating world.  I think it created a unique foundation for our relationship that allowed the Lord to be first, unlike my previous relationships.

Getting married at 30 meant that I knew what I wanted and was so ready for marriage, as I'd struggled with the timing and had it out with God on numerous occasions.  I can't imagine it being any other way and feel that our marriage has an amazing strength that I'm so grateful for!

However, it has definitely come with some struggles....struggles that I brought into our marriage that have caused conflict.  If you're married, have you had conflict in your marriage?!  If you say 'no', then I'm pretty sure you're fooling yourself, because we ALL struggle with conflict, some worse than others.

Today I want to share what I've learned about conflict in my year of marriage as well as what I've learned from my parents and other friends that are married.

1 // The goal is not to win.  I'm stubborn.  I spent 12 years on my own and developed a way of life and had a pretty good set of opinions and way of doing things - even the trivial things: laundry, washing dishes, making the bed, what kind of food to cook and what type of social activities I enjoyed.  But what do you know?!  My husband had a different set of opinions on these things which have caused conflict between us since we've been married. 

Have you been in that argument before?  You like dishes to be put directly into the dishwasher, but he thinks his cereal bowl should sit in the sink dirty for a while and then magically appear in the dishwasher a few days later? Ha! Arguments like this can escalate and turn into pretty ugly "discussions", but why?  Because we want to win.  We want to be right and for him to apologize.  But guess what?!  It's not always going to happen that way.  There are so many times in marriage that you just have to let things go - "choose your battles" I've heard other people say.  Even if you were right (the bowl should go into the dishwasher), is it really worth damaging your relationship just to "be right"?  I've learned to just let things go and not always have to be right.  It doesn't matter who "wins".  It matters how you handle the conflict and how you show love to your spouse in the process.

2 // Resolving conflict requires forgiveness.  Man, this one can be hard!  What if your spouse really does mess up? Whether it's a BIG mistake or little mistake, we are called to forgive them.  Hopefully he's asked for that forgiveness but even if he doesn't, we should offer it to him.  It means forgiving without expecting something in return.  It means forgiving with a gentle spirit and not holding it against him ever again. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."  We have more opportunities in marriage to practice forgiveness.  We also have a great amount of power in lifting up or crushing our spouse's spirit.  Offering forgiveness is one of the best ways to encourage and lift up your spouse!

3 // Accept your spouse for who he/she is.  We try our hardest to know everything about our spouse before we get married, right?  But little do you know, there are characteristics about him or her that you learn along the way, big or small, that you don't really love.  Then we find ourselves trying to change that characteristic.  Let me preface it with this first - if you find out that that "characteristic" involves physical abuse, do NOT overlook it and think, "oh, that's just who he is."  Please seek help from someone that can help you and your spouse!

Now if that characteristic is something that does not cause you or your children harm, take a step back and think, "am I trying to change who my husband is?"  Say you don't like your husband's hobby of fishing. You'd rather he be at the gym lifting weights and developing bigger muscles.  But that's not him - he doesn't want to be that super fit guy. Fishing may be a huge part of who he is and what he loves.  If it's something he enjoys, don't take that away from him and try to turn him into something that he is not.  Allow him to be the man that he was when he married you.

4 // Communication is key.  This is one that I struggle with often.  Most conflict arises because of a breakdown in communication.  One person doesn't hear the other in the way it was meant to be taken and gets offended.  One person says something hurtful when they didn't mean it in a hurtful way.  One person never listens to the other person's point of view.  One person assumed the worst about the other.  The list goes on and on.  If you think back to your most recent argument, poor communication was most likely the culprit.

I am NO expert on this, but there is one thing that I've learned.  Assume the best about your spouse.  When my husband says something that offends me, I try to take a step back (before retaliating) and think, "did he really mean that to hurt me?  How can I put myself in his shoes and see this from his perspective?"
Quite often, he didn't mean it in the way that I took it.  If I look at it in that way, we can usually work it out calmly and productively.  Turn it around as well.  Think about how you talk to your spouse and how he might take what you say.  Be careful with your words - they are more powerful than you think.

What are other ways that you've been able to navigate conflict in marriage?  What are challenges that you face when conflict arises?
Connect with Kelli

See more from the series HERE.  

Hello Neverland

31 comments :

  1. Kelli! I love you. Conflict with a partner is something that is scary to me for a lot of personal reasons you may know. I mean, i can handle conflict with anyone else but in that situation...it literally terrifies...don't know if you read that one particular post. thank you for this!

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  2. So, being that I am still slacking on sending you my story, I can say that I COMPLETELY understand. I tend to take the authoritarian position because I felt so walked over previously. This is really bad for showing grace and forgiveness as I am sure you can imagine.

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  3. "Remember the goal is not to win." That is SO good.

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  4. Again..loved this! You always find the right people, saying the right things, at exactly the time I need it. :) thanks for that!

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  5. I love you, Nina :) I did read that post and the related ones. I totally understand why its scary. It is for me too for different reasons and has been the challenging part of marriage. I'll always be working on it!!

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  6. The goal is not to win, SO TRUE. When one can learn to step back and just forgive, accept or move on it can make SUCH a big difference. Picking your battles is huge :) Kelli, you rock!

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  7. I love Kelli! I was so happy to see her featured here. She is such an inspiration in so many ways. She is so wise and I love her heart for God. I'm not married nor in a relationship but I love this advice, "It doesn't matter who "wins". It matters how you handle the conflict and how you show love to your spouse in the process" perfectly said!!

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  8. Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}November 19, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Oh girl I love to win. And it's not just about the winning, it's more about him admitting that I was right or saying he's sorry, which he hates to do. So I love when he does, haha! But you are so right, it shouldn't be about that, and it's not always like that for us. We for sure have our issues but at the end of the day he's my best friend and I love him to death. Communication is so important and staying in tune with your spouses needs takes effort; but it's so worth it and makes your marriage that much stronger.
    Great post Kelli!

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  9. Oh my gosh we might be the same person.... It's nice to hear that others struggle with this in their marriage too

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  10. She's definitely great! It's good that you're keeping up with the series. It's so good to be prepared :)

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  11. I'm working on both of those things still hahaha

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  12. Such a great thing to remind yourself!

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  13. Aww thank you Kendra! Your words just made my day :) Your marriage will be so much healthier because of everything you're learning now. Props to you for being so proactive about it! You're awesome!

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  14. The fact that 2 of some of my most favorite blogger gals are coming together in a series I love just might have made me squeal. Might have. LOL! But in all seriousness, Kelli you have some AMAZING pointers! That has been one of our biggest hurdles is learning how to adjust and adapt to the other person's way of living. It's a learning process, let me just tell ya lol! But I loved your first one specifically - it's not about winning. I've had to learn that "winning" an argument is not the way to go about things in my marriage, and in life in general. Sometimes, it's just best to leave it be. Love you ladies!

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  15. Thanks lady. Your support means so much, so glad you're loving this series and our collaboration :)

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  16. just found your blog and totally love it! such a great post on marriage

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  17. Thanks Anne, look forward to getting to know you! How did you find me?!

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  18. The one about accepting your spouse for who they are, with all their quirks is hard! I think it's become when you move in together you learn so much more than you when you were just dating. Such great tips and so well said!

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  19. Oh my gosh yes, that's something that will hit you hard if you aren't prepared (moving in together)

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  20. I was shaking my head in agreeance on all of those points! Great post Kelli! :) I think one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was forgiveness. Before marriage if I felt like somebody wronged me, I held onto it. I didn't necessarily hold a grudge, but I don't think I truly forgave them either...I just kind of got over it over time. I also never really ASKED for forgiveness. I just hoped over time it would be swept under the rug. I learned pretty quickly in marriage that you have to forgive and ask for forgiveness as well. No sweeping anything under the rug in marriage. :)

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  21. Yep, I've had to learn the same thing! Thank you for sharing that, Chelsea!!

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  22. Cassie, thank you for having me on your blog! This is such a great series. And your words above mean so much to me! I love our friendship and how much I've learned from you!

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  23. Aww I'm glad you squealed, Kelly! :-p Haha! Yep, that's been a tough lesson for me too that I haven't mastered but I'm working on it. Love you, friend!

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  24. Oh this is such great advice for couples! But it could also be applied to our relationships with out friends and family. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  25. Oh gosh, how I struggle with this BIG TIME. I'm not great at forgiveness sadly... but I'm working on it!

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  26. That's SO true Amanda. A lot of these apply to all kinds of relationships :)

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  27. You are gorgeous!!!!! I love #1!!! I remember being told in marriage counseling that it's all about being a team. It's WE, not I!!! Love this series!

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  28. Isn't she beautiful?! SO fun to see you catching up on all of these! Can't wait to catch up on you!

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  29. Aww thanks Caroline! Yep..that's hard for me to remember at times. Still working on it! :)

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