Marriage Monday: Diffusing Conflict By Believing The Best

The cookies slid easily off my spatula, but choosing to let his words slide off my back was another matter altogether.

I could tell from the mood in the kitchen that my husband didn’t even know his comment pricked my heart or that a slow bleed was threatening to weaken my knees.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you been stopped in your tracks by a careless word, only to stew and replay it in your mind for hours?

It is not typical of my husband to speak a hurtful word, so my decision to apply an emotional band-aid and move on did not feel as though I pardoned a great offense; it did not feel as though I buried my emotions by looking the other way.

Nearly fifteen years of marriage have taught me that sometimes things are better left alone. Some circumstances are not worthy of the emotional energy needed to pick them apart. Some are best swiftly forgiven.

I’ve also learned, from my own marriage and from watching those of friends, that unneeded conflict often arises when each utterance is analyzed, when spouses make assumptions about motives, and ultimately, when a cold shoulder and icy glare is shot across the room rather than grace extended.

That day in kitchen, with cookies adding warmth and goodness to a winter day, I wrestled against the temptation to throw my attitude around and pout until I could lay blame at his feet.

But the Holy Spirit nudged my heart with Paul’s words: “…love is not easily angered, (and it)…always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Cor 13:5a, 7b.

I knew my husband didn’t intend for his words to jab. And in believing the best, I was able to shrug it off without picking the scab. With God’s strength, I was truly able to sweeten my own sour attitude.

It should be said that believing the best of our spouse does not mean we turn a blind eye to repeated offenses. Ignoring abuse, justifying cruelty, or allowing bitterness to take root is never God’s best for us and should be dealt with immediately and without excuse.

When there is the possibility of a misunderstanding, however, we have the opportunity to cover jagged words with love. We have the great opportunity to demonstrate love not merely as an emotion to be handled at whim, but rather, as a choice we make to honor our vows, and ultimately, our God.

Special thanks to Jane Graham who provided today’s Marriage Monday post. Jane is a freelancer and ghostwriter whose first book reached #13 on the Wall Street Journal List. She writes about the faith journey at www.girlmeetspaper.com, and about intentional parenting at www.unofficialhomeschooler.com. Jane, her husband, and three kids enjoy life in West Michigan.

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3 Responses to Marriage Monday: Diffusing Conflict By Believing The Best

  1. Jane says:

    It’s a pleasure to be joining you here today, Jill! Thank you.

  2. Lyndsey says:

    Thanks, Jane. This is a balance we are working on more than ever (saying when words hurt us vs. not over analyzing and covering with grace) in our marriage. It looks slightly different in each Christian marriage, doesn’t it?

    • Jane says:

      It sure does, Lyndsey. It’s a tough balance in any relationship, whether with children or friends or a spouse. But trusting the Holy Spirit to guide your unique relationship (rather than being tempted to compare your marriage to another) is the best way to move forward together. Thanks for your comment!

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