I’ve talked with many people who don’t mind having to stay home. They like it.

(Good for them!)

For others, this whole quarantine experience has been … TENSE. The spring of 2020 has been an unpleasant combination of anxiety, restlessness and irritation. If you’re married, I’m willing to bet your cooped-up spouse feels the same way.

This level of “togetherness” will test the best of any relationship. We sinful human beings don’t always handle fear, frustration and fatigue with love and kindness. Affection gives way to annoyance. The love of your life begins to feel like the enemy. And sooner or later, the tension can reach a boiling point and BAM — you’ve got conflict.

How are you supposed to handle fights with your spouse? What are you supposed to do when it seems like the wheels are coming off? How do you recover when you’re mad, your spouse is mad, the kids are insane and you don’t see things changing any time soon?

The Bible has plenty to say on the subject (e.g. Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 10:12; 28:25; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 1:10-12; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:1-11; James 4:1-10; etc.). I can’t offer anything better than God’s Word. David figured that out when he said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

But what can I say to those of us who forget to recall God’s Word in the heat of battle?

I’ve got an exercise that may help. The next time you are in a conflict — be it large or small, try stepping away and asking yourself three questions:

  • What’s going on in me?
  • What’s going on in my spouse?
  • What might God be up to?

This may not seem like much, but I promise you that these three questions can be powerful. The reason they work is because we have blind spots. Jesus pointed this out more creatively than I ever could. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye” (Matthew 7:3)?

Conflicts rarely go well because we charge forward believing that we see clearly. In truth, we have blinders on. We focus only on one or two angles (e.g. “if you would simply admit that you’re being unreasonable …”, “I didn’t say that”; etc.). If we are honest with ourselves, we rarely give God a single thought or consideration in the heat of battle.

We don’t just have blind spots, we have distorted vision. We deceive ourselves into believing what we want. We see what we want to see. We cling to evidence and examples that assume the best about ourselves and the worst about our enemy … ahem, I mean, spouse. We are blind when we think we see!

It takes a lot of humility to realize that I may need some clarification from above. And the process of slowing down and asking these questions can be profoundly humbling. We are seeking the perspective of a God whose view of our conflict is not as flattering as ours.

  • “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.” – Proverbs 16:2
  • “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” – James 4:1

So, when you find the tension escalating and the words between you and your spouse becoming sharper and more accusatory, get away and ask yourself, “What’s going on in me? What’s going on in my spouse? What might God be up to?

These questions are not magical. They don’t work automatically. They don’t always work quickly. In fact, each question will probably require more investigation.

  • What’s going on in me?
    1. How am I behaving? Am I being loving, patient, kind, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23)?
    2. How might I be coming across? Am I being condescending, hurtful, impatient, etc.?
    3. What am I fighting for? Is what I am fighting for pleasing to God?
    4. How am I contributing to this fight?
  • What’s going on in my spouse?
    1. What is my spouse feeling? What has she/he been through all day? All week?
    2. What is my spouse worried about? Afraid of?
    3. What is my spouse needing?
    4. Have I hurt my spouse in ways that I may be recognizing or appreciating?
    5. How is my spouse a sinner just like me?
  • What might God be up to?
    1. How is God involved right now?
    2. How should His grace, mercy, patience and love impact the way I am arguing?
    3. What difference does it make that Jesus paid for my sins to how I am handling this?
    4. What would it look like for me to trust Him in this?
    5. What would it look like to serve in honor Him?
    6. How should I be praying right now?

I think we all can imagine how humbling this process is. It’s hard, but it is GOOD! “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

You may be like me and forget to do this when you should. That’s ok. It’s never too late to humbly ask these questions. Even after the argument, clarity from God always helps.

What would this look like for you? What would happen the next time you sense resentment brewing for you to stop and admit that you don’t see clearly? Instead of fighting, what if you called a time-out and sought God and His perspective?

I honestly believe that three simple questions can turn everything around. And that’s crucial, right?

I mean, if you’re going to be cooped-up with someone, wouldn’t it be nice if you both were enjoying it?

 

Ryan McCarthy

 

 

re|engage this summer!

Wanting to focus on your marriage this summer? Whether you feel like you need serious help, or just want to take the time to focus on growing from a good to a great marriage, re|engage is here to help. In fact, it’s an experience that has helped transform lots of Christ Chapel couples. Email Ryan at RyanM@christchapelbc.org to learn more about it and sign up for the summer.

CHECK OUT MORE BLOG POSTS

______________

“Not Today, Jesus.”  

July 6

Ology_header_FinalJuly6

How to Celebrate July 4th at Home

June 29

062920_ology_July4AtHome_header4web

Calling All Grandmas

June 22

8545_061920_ology_Header (1)