Marriage is a beautiful gift from God. It is wonderful and comforting having someone by your side as you journey through life. However, when two people who are broken with different backgrounds and quirkiness come together, some conflict is bound to happen. Even though few couples like to admit any sort of disagreements they may have, conflict is common in all marriages. No matter how head over heels in love you are with your spouse, conflict is inevitable. Your spouse will disappoint you in some way because they are human; then add bad habits different idiosyncrasies, expectations, and the heat of daily trials and it becomes unavoidable.
Marriage in general has moments of tension, therefore you and your spouse will need to choose how to respond when those moments arise. Couples who are able to work through and resolve the conflict have a greater chance of keeping their marriage intact. Conflict can truly make or break a marriage and could end up leading to either a miserable marriage or divorce. Despite the fact that marriage consists of two very different people God created it to be good because even He says “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
So let’s discuss some of the more prominent issues that couples tend to argue about and maybe consider how you and your spouse are currently dealing with these areas of conflict.
Money is tied to feeling secure. Depending on how you view money, you may be either really good at saving or really good at spending. If you view money differently you may both have a very different approach, which could lead to arguments and disagreements. Bills, debt, spending, and hopefully saving are all a part of the financial world we live in and it can be difficult to navigate as our society is so consumer-driven. Money conflicts have a tendency to be wrapped up in fear as it truly affects our livelihood. So money and fear may be the driving sources of conflict, while the topics tend to be centered around: how to budget. Where do we spend it? Who decides how much is spent? Do we save? Are we making enough? Couples must decide on how they are going to respond when money issues turn into conflict in the marriage.
Being a parent is a precious gift from God but as wonderful as it is, it also has its challenges. Unfortunately, a child can be the number one stress factor in marriage because parenting styles and beliefs on different issues like discipline, for example, can become accentuated. Not to mention the early stages of a child’s life that include the lack of sleep, wondering who’s changing the dirty diaper and whose turn it is to run after them when they start walking. Then if you are dealing with a blended family situation the issues can be magnified. However, even though children can be a great source of conflict the solution can often be a unified front. If you can get on the same page, especially in front of your children, it’ll prevent them from playing against you, leading to more conflict. Be sure to iron out your parenting differences away from your children and behind closed doors.
Sex is a beautiful gift that physically brings two people together. It can be wonderful! Although the one thing you thought would never be a concern when you first got married can become a stressor especially if you have differing opinions on frequency and quality. Then if you throw infidelity in the mix, trust goes out the window. Being intimate with your spouse creates a sweet marital bond but if one withholds sex to punish the other the bond can be broken. One of the best ways to overcome sexual tension is by being willing to talk about it.
We all enter into a marriage with a preconceived notion of how it should be. Our background and how we saw our parents interact with one another, or by adopting a fantasy as a child are what often form these expectations. If you grew up with parents who got along and had a wonderful marriage then you will most likely expect yours to look similar. If divorce or constant fighting was a part of the picture you may begin to develop hopes and dreams of what a good marriage may look like. When we go into a marriage with set expectations and they aren’t met, it can become a major source of conflict. One expectation that can get messy is household chores. If you grew up seeing one parent doing all the housework then you may even unconsciously expect that of your spouse. This can lead to arguing and conflict within your marriage.
When you are married it can be easy to get stuck in the rut of routine and time can get away from you. Then add children into the mix and you become distracted by their needs. Not to mention work and coming home tired, which tends to lead to the conflict of time being used for yourself rather than for your marriage. Time alone or time spent on hobbies are all good and necessary ways to spend your time but when it interferes with your marriage, conflict can arise. Time together must be intentional especially when life is pulling you in every other direction; your spouse is worth it! Plan a weekly or even monthly date night and hold to it. It is vital to the health of your marriage to have time to connect and have fun with your spouse because time apart and the lack of quality time can cause you two to become out of sync. Remain connected through date night and participate in shared activities and interests on a regular basis.
One of the most beautiful aspects of marriage is that oftentimes opposites attract which can help bring balance and of course conflict. It can be hard to accept and adjust to differences but the quicker we are able to overcome differences and set aside our selfish desires, the quicker our marriage can become a sweet harmony. James 1:19 offers the best advice, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Conflict can be resolved quickly when we are willing to ask for and grant forgiveness. “Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate” (Mark 10:9). Learn from conflict and allow it to strengthen your marriage.