From Kevin Trembley, First Baptist Church, Minitonas, MB
All marriages, even healthy ones; have conflict at times.
Conflict can be a good thing. Often it’s a sign that we care about our spouse and how things are going.
But how should we respond if conflict is happening all the time and we just don’t know how to end what seems to be a crazy cycle of fighting with each other?
The Bible gives wisdom here:
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:33
What a wife desires is a husband who loves her, who pursues her, who cherishes her and who takes care of her.
What a husband desires is a wife who honors him, respects him, speaks well of him, and who follows his lead in the family.
What is a wife to do when she does not feel loved by her husband?
And how is a husband supposed to react to a wife who does not respect him?
This is where marriage can become a real challenge.
Because a wife who does not feel loved does not want to respect her husband. And a husband who does not feel respected will often withdraw from his wife and become cold to her.
How can this cycle be broken?
One side has to decide to break the cycle of conflict by loving/respecting their spouse, even when they aren’t having their needs met in return!
Often, this can help the other spouse to start responding in the ways that we need.
But even if it doesn’t, we should continue doing what the Bible commands in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere- loving, submitting, respecting, honoring, cherishing etc.
Why? Why would I continue to love my wife or respect my husband when they don’t respond the way I want them to in return?
We do it because we are primarily honoring Christ in our marriage.
If we can have that mindset, that marriage is not about me or my happiness; but about Christ and the holiness He wants to produce in me- we can love or respect a spouse who at times does not seem to deserve that love or respect.
Love and respect in marriage is a choice we all get to make. Don’t choose to love your wife just so she will respect you, and vice versa.
Do it because you want to honor Christ and you made a commitment to your spouse before God.
It’s worth it!