For Part I of this series, visit Biblical Resolutions – Part I .
3. You must be willing to please God. This is essential before you begin to try to take any practical action in the process of reconciliation. The desire to please God will instantly motivate you to take action that you would never ordinarily take. When Paul the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonian church he urged them regarding how they “ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thess. 4:1). Notice, he associated their correct walk with the desire to please God.
This attitude is so important because the basic problem in every marriage is that desire to please self. Many conflicts are simply the result of selfishness, self-will, or self-righteousness. According to James, self is the root of every conflict and evil that occurs in any relationship, “Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there” (James 3:16). Therefore, to deal with your selfish desires you need a higher motivation, that of pleasing the Father.
When you choose to please God, you strike at the root of your problems. If you obey God’s Word, you can’t help but please Him in every way. With this attitude, a willing heart, and the power of the Holy Spirit, you are now ready to take these practical steps:
4. You must restrain your anger.
This is a choice you must make with every conflict that occurs because explosive anger is the primary reason that nothing gets resolved. Many have said to me, “Steve, I just can’t control my temper.” Yet, this statement is in direct contradiction to what Scripture declares. When Paul was in prison for false charges made against him, he could have been very angry and depressed; but instead, he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Controlling his emotions and his anger were undoubtedly some of the “all things” he refers to in this text. You can control your anger too, if you will ask God for His help. He has the strength you need to do what you find impossible.
Solomon said, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel” (Prov. 20:3). Also, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32).
Restraining your anger is one way to stop a quarrel from ever starting in the first place. Likewise, once an argument has started, you still have the choice to stop it. You must rule your own spirit instead of letting your spirit rule you. This takes greater spiritual might and strength than it does to take a city in war.
But how can you restrain your anger? Where do you get this greater might to control your spirit? By a choice to ask God for help and by your personal surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit. You make the choice to please God by stopping the escalation of your anger. Take a five minute time out for prayer so you can calm down. Remember, it’s not by your might or by your power, but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6). Your anger is a powerful force, but His Spirit is even more powerful. Have you experienced His greater power? It’s there for you.
5. You must listen instead of trying to only prove your point.
This skill is only possible when your anger is under the control of the Holy Spirit.
When your mate tells you something he or she is upset about, do you interrupt? Do you try to answer your loved one’s concerns before he or she has even finished talking? Are you really listening, or merely thinking about how to answer? These are all signs that you aren’t listening. If you aren’t a good listener, you won’t be a very good communicator because you haven’t really understood what your spouse has said.
If you constantly hear your mate declare, “No, that’s not what I mean,” or, “You don’t understand what I’m saying,” you probably don’t! If you don’t understand what your spouse is saying, how can you resolve anything?
The Scripture commands you to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). The more you listen, the slower you will speak. The slower you speak, the easier it will be to restrain your wrath and anger. Try it! The next argument you have, try listening and waiting until your spouse is completely finished, then respond. You’ll be amazed at how your anger will be controlled.