When was the last argument you had with your spouse or someone you loved? Who won that argument? No one. An argument that tears down is always a lose-lose situation. Men, we love to be right and we love to hold onto the right to be right, which is foolish.
Some people also hold onto the right to be offended. Some people enjoy the self pity of being offended and playing the victim role. These people will set up a situation to be rejected so they can feed their self pity image. Some people also use a minor form of this in self sabotage. They unconsciously and sometimes consciously ruin a situation when it gets to good just to hang on to the self pity feelings. And finally the worst of all is people who hang onto forgiveness. They do not forgive and hold a grudge for sometimes years against someone.
So how do we resolve conflicts?
First, we must repent. Repent of pride, self pity, or unforgiveness or whatever combination of the three.
Secondly, you make a commitment to never let the sun go down on unresolved conflicts.
Make this the norm in your household. Do not go to sleep at night if you have not resolved a conflict with your spouse or children. This creates resentment and hardens the heart towards you.
Having this commitment and making this the norm causes you to focus on what is important, oneness with your spouse and children. Sometimes you have to stop and say “I’m wrong, you’re wrong and I’m sorry, let’s just repent and go to bed.”
Why is this such a big deal?
"In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (NIV)
Give the devil a foothold? What scripture is saying is that by going to sleep with unresolved conflict and resentment, we are allowing Satan to occupy a portion of our heart, in the form of sin and anger towards our wife or loved ones.
And he will take it…drip…drip. Remember the water leak? Slow drips kill the marriage.
I don’t know why God placed this time frame on resolving conflict but I believe t has something to do with going to sleep and hitting our mental reset button. The next morning we forget some of the argument, forgot the context of some of the statements, did not clarify motives or feelings in the argument and this causes us to assume we understand our loved ones motives and often times leads to resentment towards that person. You leave a cut in your relationship to fester quietly below the surface.
What happens in the future is when this topic is revisited at a later date you bring back this old cut and emotions to the topic and there is a history there that starts this situation already with old emotional baggage and anger. Eventually, if this persists long enough, their will be areas in your marriage that you do not want to talk about because all that past anger and resentment has been left festering in unresolved conflict and pain.
Now listen to this closely. The number one principle in the Bible concerning marriage is the principle of oneness. Oneness between husband and wife.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.” (NIV)
More on this at a later date.
If oneness in the marriage is attacked, then the happiness, our enjoyment, the vitality of our marriage is diminished by that. If we have allowed the sun to go down on unresolved conflict in places of our marriage and now there is places we cannot discuss, cannot have a free flowing exchange of ideas, we have allowed holes in our oneness and not only has our oneness and enjoyment gone down the power of our marriage has also been diminished.
Agreement and oneness is the place of power and if we are not in agreement, if we are not one than we have lost our power in our relationship, we have lost power in spiritual warfare, in prayer, in finances, in decision making and raising our children.
And what God intended to be an 8 Cylinder Engine firing with oneness, is now on 4 cylinders and struggling and drifting. We cannot allow the days to end on unresolved conflicts. It creates a downward spiral.
Okay, there are some disagreements that are minor. Who’s a better actor, the best engine oil, whatever. The arguments that need to be resolved are those that involve emotions, true meaning. When there is an offense of some sort.
Bottom line, if a disagreement is not resolved, it leads to resentment. Resentment leads to bitterness and bitterness over time kills a marriage with the slow drip.
So practice some everyday maintenance and keep the slow drip out of your marriage, resolve disagreements and don’t go to sleep at night until you have come to an agreement and agreed on a solution.
More to come in Part III…