Our argument was cut short when my husband saw the time. He grabbed his laptop and coffee mug and didn’t stop to kiss me before leaving for work. We muttered requisite “I love you’s” and I held my tears in until after the door had shut behind him. I sat on the couch, stunned at how a silly disagreement had turned into a heated volley of ugly tones and hurtful words.
An hour of crying and wrestling with the Lord followed. During that time I was gently reminded the attributes of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. These stood out to me the most: “Love suffers long (NKJV)…It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (ESV).”
Wow. Talk about conviction! I realized that in arguing with Andy I was insisting that my way was better than his. Was I willing to embrace longsuffering in order to show love? Was I willing to repent of being irritable and resentful toward my spouse? What should matter more to me: getting my way or displaying humility? What matters more to God?
A peace came over me as I got out my phone to send Andy a text.
“I’m sorry. Can we start over?” I asked.
“I’d like that. I’m sorry, too,” he responded.
Both of us have since made an effort to say, “let’s start over” the minute we recognize an argument’s potential to get ugly. For us, “let’s start over” mostly means, “let’s let this go.” The reality is that the majority of our disagreements are over unimportant things, like how to load a dishwasher or what route to take when we’re driving together. There are certain discussions that need to be had (budgeting and parenting are two examples), and in that case starting over means having the conversation again but agreeing to keep emotions out of it.
Suffering long (being patient), conceding to Andy’s wishes, staying calm and forgiving quickly is challenging! Do you struggle with being a calm and forbearing wife, too? (I know I can’t possibly be the only one.)
Don’t give up! We’re talking about THE most important relationship you have with another human being. As believers, we have direct access to the “Wonderful Counselor” and the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV). Disagreements will happen in every human relationship. It’s important to consider the value in choosing peace over conflict. Sometimes spouses aren’t quick to jump on board, but keep working on your part in the relationship. Maybe that means saying, “let’s start over” to yourself. Either way, you will see results. I encourage you to ask God to reveal to you the areas of your heart that need examining.
Are you quick to quarrel?
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3, NIV).
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV).
Are you quick to show frustration?
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (Proverbs 12:16, ESV).
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11, ESV).
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, ESV).
While occasional conflict is a reality we all face, we have hope in the knowledge that God designed us to live in harmony with one another. Maybe it’s time for you to say, “let’s start over.” Then you can begin to exemplify the characteristics God desires us to embrace.
Friends, my marriage is so much more pleasant now that Andy and I have resolved to start over, again and again — whatever it takes to keep us from being in conflict. Joyous are the days that we spend displaying patience and love toward each other.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14, ESV).