3 Ways Conflict Can Lead to Intimacy

Brad Aldrich   -  

Yesterday I snapped at my wife. I was trying to show her how to do something on the computer, but I got frustrated and stormed out complaining, “I’ll just do it myself.” You might be wondering why Worship Center’s Marriage Pastor is admitting to snapping at his wife. Thankfully, my wife, Kate, and I have learned that conflict in our marriage is not something to be afraid of anymore. We know that conflict, when handled well, can actually result in deeper intimacy.

When we were first married, I bought into the lie that a good marriage is one where you can say, “We never fight.” That sounded right coming from my family where raised voices were rare, and conflict was something better left under the rug. In God’s great wisdom I fell in love with someone who had learned that conflict was something you were supposed to get out. She grew up learning that the louder you can communicate your point of view the better. As you can imagine, these two backgrounds tended to clash. In the early years of our marriage, our conflict was not drawing us any closer to intimacy. In fact, it came close to tearing us apart.

Kate and I have been fortunate to learn three steps to turn our conflicts into an opportunity for deeper intimacy in our marriage:

1. Extend forgiveness easily and often.

When disagreements happen, it is easy to feel like the other person is deliberately saying or doing things to hurt you. We think if only they saw our point of view everything would be just fine. Fortunately, the truth is that there are many reasons for conflict: miscommunication, misunderstanding, and different expectations (just to name a few). In the middle of a fight try to remember you are not battling against an enemy. You are fighting with someone who you vowed to love, honor, and cherish. Guess what: they made those vows to you as well! Maybe there is more going on in this conflict than your current mindset tells you. Step back, forgive, and move to step two!

2. It isn’t about the content.

We fight about time, money, and kids, but those things are not what the conflict is really about. The content is not the conflict. Your buttons have been pushed, and some emotion is running underneath the content of the argument. When I snapped at Kate about the computer, I was feeling inadequate and misunderstood in that moment. What came out was anger, but that wasn’t what hit my button. It was the things underneath the surface that fueled the anger. As long as the argument stays above the surface with the content, you will never reach intimacy.

In the middle of a fight, try to remember you are not battling against an enemy. You are fighting with someone who you vowed to love, honor, and cherish.

3. Mind the speck and the plank.

Jesus knew that we would be in conflict with the ones we love. So he gave us a very important instruction on how we need to deal with that conflict. Matthew 7: 3-5 says:

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Am I the only one who got hung up on one part of that verse? It will come to mind during an argument, and I will dismiss it saying to myself, “The plank isn’t in my eye it’s in hers! Sure, maybe I have a speck in mine but….”  It is about that time that I remember what a speck can do to your vision. Have you ever had a speck in your eye? It hurts! You can’t do much until you get that speck out of there. One of the central themes in the re|engage small groups is the simple saying: “The best way to work on your marriage is to draw a circle around yourself and work on everyone inside that circle.”

We are here to help!

Putting these steps into practice is hard! Conflict is difficult, and changes are challenging. That’s why Worship Center wants to give you the tools you need to have a healthy and loving marriage despite difficulties you may face. Whether you feel you’re at a healthy place or you’d like your marriage to be refreshed, you don’t need to go through marriage alone. We were made for community!