Anybody still with me? We’ve reached Chapter 17 of The Excellent Wife, which is the final chapter in “Part Three — A Wife’s Submission.” The final piece of the becoming-an-excellent-wife puzzle is learning to develop a quiet spirit and biblically resolve conflict in marriage.
Martha Peace writes, “It is important for you to learn how to biblically solve conflict with your husband. In this chapter, we will see thoughts that hinder as well as thoughts that enhance conflict solving. We will also explain the three causes (selfishness, differentness, and righteousness) of conflicts and their solutions. In addition to the causes and solutions, this chapter covers the four character qualities you will need in order to be able to solve conflict biblically and to be an Excellent Wife.”
This chapter on conflict contains a lot of helpful information and encouragement. Peace begins with a list of unbiblical thoughts that women tend to think when they are upset with their husbands. I agree with her assessment that the ones she lists are only self-serving justifications for giving up. I’ve had a few of those kinds of thoughts before, but I haven’t ever entertained them to the point of quitting my marriage. God always interrupts my negative thought-processes with some truth.
Biblical Thoughts that Enhance Conflict Solving:
1. “What is God trying to teach me in the midst of this conflict?” Read James 1:2-5
3. “God will help me to endure these conflicts.” Read 1 Corinthians 10:13
4. “If I must suffer through this conflict, I want it to be for doing what is right, not because I have sinned.” Read 1 Peter 3:17 and 1 Peter 4:19
6. “What can I do differently to make it easier for us to solve this conflict?” Read Philippians 2:3
Peace writes, “It is important to realize how wrong thoughts powerfully influence your emotions and make it extrememly difficult to resolve conflict in a rational, reasonable manner.”
She is so right! Several years ago, one of my friends called me every single morning to talk about who she was mad at at the moment. It never failed. At 9:30 every morning, Susie (not her real name) would call to talk about who had done her wrong and how mad she was. I wanted to be her friend, and I would attempt to talk her down, but the talking only fed her animosity. The more she talked and dwelled on the offense, the angrier she became. The relationship was exhausting! Though she professed to be a believer, her hunger for revenge and anger did not conform to Christ. She would not even consider forgiveness or letting things go. After a few months of this, I had to ask her to stop calling me. Through that experience I learned the importance of not rehearsing and dwelling on wrong thoughts.
As a wife, it is important that I not feed my emotions with wrong thoughts about my husband. Eventually, my thoughts make my memory of the offense much worse than it actually was, thus making resolution more difficult.
Peace explains that there are three kinds of conflict and four key attitudes to cultivate to resolve conflict. We experience conflict
1. because of our differences
2. because we are selfish and sinful
3. because of righteousness
We can resolve conflict when we practice
1. Humility — regard my husband as more important than myself
2. Gentleness — tender, calm, content in God, under control
3. Patience — forbearance under strain
4. Forbearance — obey God and let it pass without saying anything
Each chapter builds on the ones before it. This chapter about conflict cannot be fully understood apart from prior chapters, especially the chapters regarding how husbands and wives are to help one another in the process of sanctification. Even though it came before, I’m a little disappointed that Peace didn’t give particular attention to the importance of applying the gospel to marital conflict. It is a powerful thing when a husband and wife can look at one another and realize they are in the same awful predicament, namely, that they are both sinners in need of Jesus. Regardless of who’s “right” in the situation, both stand in need of grace and forgiveness from God and one another.
Overall, this chapter is very practical! Peace offers several tools and encouragements for conflict resolution. I feel challenged and encouraged to respond in a God-honoring way the next time Karl and I have a conflict or the next time he does something that gets on my nerves a little bit.
This chapter also reminded me to keep praying for the Holy Spirit’s fruit to be manifest in my life.
I look forward to reading your comments and posts!!
Next week we move on the the fourth part of TEW, “A Wife’s Special Concerns — Sin Problems of the Excellent Wife.”
Keep reading! Click for Chapter 18.