HANDLING CONFLICT IN MARRIAGE:

Because of the fallen nature of man, marriage conflict is a fact of life, even for believers in Christ. Loving communication doesn’t come naturally or easily to anyone. For unbelievers, remedy for conflicts is difficult because without Christ humans do not have the capacity for unselfish love (Ephesians 4:22-32). Christians, however, have the Bible for instructions in relationships. Applying biblical principles to relationships will enable us to handle marriage conflict most effectively.

The first and most important principle in resolving conflict in relationships, especially in marriage, is to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34) and gave Himself for us. Ephesians 5:21—6:4 describes relationships within families: we are to submit to one another in love and put the needs of others ahead of our own. This is especially true in marriage where the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and care for her as he cares for his own body. In turn, a wife is to submit to her husband and respect him (Ephesians 5:22–33).

This would seem to be a fairly simple directive except for the natural tendency of humans to be reactive in relationships, rather than proactive. Wives are usually eager to submit to husbands who love them as Christ loved the church, and husbands are usually more than willing to love wives who respect and submit to them. Therein lies the problem. Each is waiting for the other to make the first move. But God’s commands for husbands and wives are not conditional. Submission is not contingent upon love, and love is not contingent upon respect. Taking the first step in obedience, regardless of the actions of the other, goes a long way to breaking down the conflict and establishing new patterns of behavior.

With that in mind, when marriage conflict arises the first step is self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5). After we have brought our concerns to the Lord and been honest with ourselves about our own failures or selfish desires, then we can approach others with our concerns. Furthermore, God designed believers to meet each other’s needs peacefully (Colossians 3:15). We all need grace for our own mistakes and we must have grace for others when communicating our needs and concerns (Colossians 4:6).

Communicating truth in love is the key to being heard because only when we communicate to others their value in our eyes will they be able to accept hard truths (Ephesians 4:15). People who feel attacked and criticized will only become defensive and at that point, communication inevitably breaks down. Conversely, people who feel we care about them and want good things for them will trust us to communicate with them in love and concern for their welfare. So speaking the truth in love is absolutely essential for conflict resolution. This is particularly true in marriage, where continuous close contact with a spouse who has disappointed us often brings out the worst in us. Hurt feelings produce harsh words which, in turn, produce more hurt feelings. Practicing the discipline of thinking carefully and praying before we speak can break this vicious cycle. Godly communication can be put in simple terms by remembering to treat others the way we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). God said blessed are the peacemakers, and that is always the goal for Christians (Matthew 5:9).

There are many aspects to relationships, conflict, and communication, and the Bible is full of wisdom for godly living. Here are specific scriptural commands of how we ought to treat one another:

To solve marriage conflict, we must:

Be at peace with one another – Mark 9:50
Love one another – John 13:34Romans 12:101 Peter 4:81 John 3:11234:71112
Build up one another – Romans 14:19Ephesians 4:121 Thessalonians 5:11
Be of the same mind toward one another – Romans 12:16
Give preference to one another – Romans 12:10
Greet one another – Romans 16:16
Esteem others as better than yourself – Philippians 2:3
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Receive one another – Romans 15:7
Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
Rejoice or weep with one another – Romans 12:15
Admonish one another – Romans 15:14Colossians 3:16
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Show tolerance toward one another – Romans 15:1-5Ephesians 4:2Colossians 3:13
Be kind and forgiving to one another – Ephesians 4:32Colossians 3:13
Submit to one another – Romans 12:10Ephesians 5:211 Peter 5:5
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11Hebrews 3:13
Be compassionate with one another – 1 Peter 3:8
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Confess your faults to one another – James 5:16
Accept one another – Romans 14:115:7

To solve marriage conflict, we must not:

Be proud against each other – 1 Corinthians 4:6
Judge one another – Romans 12:16
Lie to one another – Colossians 3:9
Be partial with one another – 1 Timothy 5:21
Provoke or envy one another – Galatians 5:26
Lust after one another – Romans 1:27
Hate one another – Titus 3:3
Take one another to court – 1 Corinthians 6:1-7
Use each other – Galatians 5:15

Prophet Nathan Emol

HANDLING MONEY IN MARRIAGE:

The Bible does not specifically address the handling of money in a marriage, but the principles regarding the relationship dynamics between the husband and wife touch on all aspects of the marriage. In other words, the principles set forth by the Lord in Ephesians 5:22-33 and Colossians 3:18-19 speak to all facets of the husband-wife relationship. This means that the spiritual balance of the spousal relationship, in all aspects, is directly impacted by the individual spouse’s personal relationship to God. In any relationship there is both blessing by association and suffering by association, and these principles are affected by the choice of each spouse to walk in obedience to the Lord.

Both spouses bring to their union strengths and weaknesses. Molding these individual characteristics into a workable relationship is a matter of understanding the order of God and the gift of grace. Financial decisions that impact the success of the family are a shared responsibility. Whatever the source of God’s provisions, whether the result of the husband’s employment or the wife’s employment or both, the assets accumulated are the responsibility of both partners together as a team. The important principle in regard to financial decisions is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31Romans 14:8Colossians 3:23-24).

Inherent in the marriage of two people in Christ, however, is the understanding that the husband is the ultimate authority. He is responsible to God to lead and shepherd his family, while his wife’s responsibility is to submit to him and be his helper. In the realm of money in a marriage, this could mean that the husband has sole control over the checkbook, pays all the bills, and sees to the family savings and investing as well as giving, while at the same time consulting his wife and getting her input on financial decisions. It can just as legitimately mean that he delegates this function to his wife, especially if she enjoys or is better suited to the details of the financial realm, and that she takes over the financial details of the “family business.” But the husband still has the responsibility to oversee the process. In the end, a couple that works together in the financial aspect of the family will be a couple that usually has good communication and mutual respect.

Finally in the area of money in a marriage, we are also given principles such as the one in Luke 6:38, which states that the more freely we give the greater the blessing. This means that there is a correlation between the giving that we do as unto the Lord and the blessing that we receive in return, both spiritual and financial. We cannot out-give God. The more faithful we are in giving back to the LORD, the more we find that what we retain is multiplied and, indeed, more than sufficient to the point of abundance.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT UNHAPPY MARRIAGE:

 One thing we know for sure: being in an unhappy marriage is not biblical grounds for divorce. In Mark 10:11–12 Jesus said, “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.” Based on the Bible, we see that people don’t have the right to dissolve an unhappy marriage. God intended that marriage be for a lifetime.

Ephesians 5 presents marriage as a picture of the relationship God has with us. This is one reason why God has such an interest in keeping marriages intact. Failed marriages and broken homes are devastating to the husband and wife, not to mention the children involved. Financial ruin is only one of the unhappy results of divorce. The family unit is the basic building block of any society, and rampant divorce has a tragic impact on all of the culture.

This is not to say that God wants to force us to remain forever in an unhappy marriage. He doesn’t ask us to just grit our teeth and suffer through it. When God approaches marital problems, He does so from the perspective of how to fix them, not how to dissolve the marriage. For example, Paul writes of demonic impact in marriages (1 Corinthians 7:5). He states that the couple should be active in the sexual relationship so that Satan cannot tempt them. Peter encourages husbands to treat their wives with understanding so that their prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). From these passages we can see that marriage is a spiritual battlefield. It takes work to fight for the relationship, not to fight in the relationship.

God encourages us toward reconciliation. Matthew 18:15–16 demands open, honest communication that deals with hurts and frustrations caused by sin. It even encourages us to get help to resolve problems. God also calls us to find our joy or happiness in Him (Philippians 4:4). The joy of the Lord is something you can have regardless of conditions. In all of God’s guidelines for experiencing joy, none of them require a spouse to cooperate. A spouse does not control our capacity to have joy or peace. James 1:3–4 tells us that deep, abiding joy comes as we persevere through trials, with God’s help, and as our faith matures and strengthens.

The book of Philippians is a great study in the difference between joy and happiness. Written by the apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome, this book uses the words joy, rejoice, and joyful 16 times and teaches us how to have true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances. In chains, Paul talks about his faith and trust in Christ and how it had changed his whole perspective on suffering.

God has given husbands clear-cut instructions in Ephesians 5:25–28: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. . . . So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.” To wives, God’s instruction is to submit to their husbands’ leadership (verse 22) and to respect their husbands (verse 33). In a Christ-like spirit, both are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). If both spouses are living up to their biblical responsibilities, there will be joy and happiness in the marriage. What woman wouldn’t respect and submit to a man who loves her the way Christ loves His church? And what man wouldn’t love a woman who respects and submits to him? The unhappiness that is present in too many marriages is often a result of one or both parties refusing to submit to God and obey His revealed will for marriage. Sometimes the unhappiness is exacerbated by unresolved issues of one party that have leaked into the marriage. In those cases, individual counseling may be helpful in addition to marriage counseling.

Even if an unhappy marriage results from a believer being married to an unbeliever, there is always the possibility the believing spouse can lead the unbelieving spouse to the Lord by his or her chaste conduct and kind demeanor. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1). The Bible specifically addresses those who are married to unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 7:12–14: “… If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.”

In the end, we must remember that “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). God knows the pain of an unhappy marriage, and He understands fleshly desires, but He has given His Word to us on this matter and He does ask for obedience. Obedience to God always brings joy (Romans 16:19).

Prophet Nathan Emol

BIBLICAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

When discussing what the Bible says about divorce, it is important to keep in mind the words of Malachi 2:16, “I hate divorce, says the Lord God.” Whatever grounds the Bible possibly gives for divorce, that does not mean God desires a divorce to occur in those instances. Rather than asking “is ______ a grounds for divorce,” often the question should be “is _______ grounds for forgiveness, restoration, and/or counseling?”

The Bible gives two clear grounds for divorce: (1) sexual immorality (Matthew 5:3219:9) and (2) abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:15). Even in these two instances, though, divorce is not required or even encouraged. The most that can be said is that sexual immorality and abandonment are grounds (an allowance) for divorce. Confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration are always the first steps. Divorce should only be viewed as a last resort.

Are there any grounds for divorce beyond what the Bible explicitly says? Perhaps, but we do not presume upon the Word of God. It is very dangerous to go beyond what the Bible says (1 Corinthians 4:6). The most frequent additional grounds for divorce that people inquire about are spousal abuse (emotional or physical), child abuse, addiction to pornography, drug / alcohol use, crime / imprisonment, and mismanagement of finances (such as through a gambling addiction). None of these can be claimed to be explicit biblical grounds for a divorce.

That does not necessarily mean, though, that none of them are grounds for divorce which God would approve of. For example, we cannot imagine that it would be God’s desire for a wife to remain with a husband who physically abuses her and/or their children. In such an instance, the wife should definitely separate herself and the children from the abusive husband. However, even in such a situation, a time of separation with the goal of repentance and restoration should be the ideal, not necessarily immediately beginning divorce proceedings. Please understand, by saying that the above are not biblical grounds for divorce, we are definitely not saying that a man/woman whose spouse is engaging in such activities should remain in the situation. If there is any risk to self or children, separation is a good and appropriate step.

Another way to look at this issue is to differentiate between biblical grounds for divorce and biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage. Some interpret the two biblical grounds for divorce mentioned above as the only grounds for remarriage after a divorce, but allow for divorce with no remarriage in other instances. While this is a plausible interpretation, it seems to come too close to presuming upon the Word of God. For more information, please read the following two articles:
https://www.gotquestions.org/divorce-remarriage.html
https://www.gotquestions.org/divorced-remarry.html

In summary, what are the biblical grounds for divorce? The answer is sexual immorality and abandonment. Are there additional grounds for divorce beyond these two? Possibly. Is divorce ever to be treated lightly or employed as the first recourse? Absolutely not. God is capable of changing and reforming any person. God is capable of healing and renewing any marriage. Divorce should only occur in instances of repeated and unrepentant heinous sin.

Prophet Nathan Emol

MAKING MARRIAGE LAST:

 What can a married couple do to ensure that their marriage will last? The first and most important issue is one of obedience to God and His Word. This is a principle that should be in force before the marriage begins. God says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3). For the born-again believer, this means not beginning a close relationship with anyone who is not also a believer. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If this one principle were followed, it would save a lot of heartache and suffering later in marriages.

Another principle that would protect the longevity of a marriage is that the husband should obey God and love, honor, and protect his wife as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:25–31). The corresponding principle is that the wife should obey God and submit to her own husband “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The marriage between a man and a woman is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ gave Himself for the church, and He loves, honors, and protects her as His “bride” (Revelation 19:7–9).

Building on the foundation of a godly marriage, many couples find practical ways to help make their marriages last: spending quality time together; saying, “I love you” often; being kind; showing affection; offering compliments; going on dates; writing notes; giving gifts; and being ready to forgive, for example. All these actions are encompassed by the Bible’s instructions to husbands and wives.

When God brought Eve to Adam in the first marriage, she was made from his “flesh and bone” (Genesis 2:21) and they became “one flesh” (Genesis 2:23–24). Becoming one flesh means more than just a physical union. It means a meeting of the mind and soul to form one unit. This relationship goes far beyond sensual or emotional attraction and into the realm of spiritual “oneness” that can only be found as both partners surrender to God and each other. This relationship is not centered on “me and my” but on “us and our.” This is one of the secrets to a lasting marriage.

Making a marriage last for a lifetime is something both partners have to make a priority. Couples whose marriages last celebrate their commitment to each other. Many couples make it a point not to even speak of divorce, even in anger. Solidifying one’s vertical relationship with God goes a long way toward ensuring the horizontal relationship between a husband and wife is a lasting, God-honoring one.

A couple who desires their marriage to last must learn how to deal with problems. Prayer, Bible study, and mutual encouragement are good. And there is nothing wrong with seeking outside help; in fact, one of the purposes of the church is to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). A struggling couple should seek advice from an older Christian couple, a pastor, or a biblical marriage counsellor.

Prophet Nathan Emol