“A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers” – Ruth Graham (Wife of Billy Graham)
"Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom" (Song of Songs 2:15)
In the Biblical book Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), we find in the fifth chapter that Solomon and his wife have a conflict. The story drips with symbolism and the Hebrew must be understood through proper exegesis of the original language and context to get the full understanding. Solomon was out working and he came home late. He knocked on his wife’s door (it was not uncommon to have separate bedchambers) but he found his wife was already in bed. She doesn’t even get up out of bed, but instead, yells at him. She says she doesn’t want to take her robe off again or get her feet dirty again because she just washed them… In Hebrew, she basically says, “I have a headache!” She doesn't want to open the door so he leaves (Don’t “react” to your mate) but before leaving, he puts liquid myrrh (most fragrant when heated, especially when put into fire) on the handles of her door’s lock (the very thing which separated them). When she realizes what she did and goes to open the door, he is gone, but her hands drip with the liquid myrrh he smeared on the handles of her lock. Liquid myrrh was very expensive and was what she used for perfume. Liquid myrrh implies that he wanted to be intimate with her (He seeks reconciliation with a sweet response; He continues to pursue her, rather than turn on her). She later gets chastened (Let God do the chastening, we can’t change our mates like He can) and she feels sorry and regretful. If your spouse wrongs you, give God some time to work in your mate's heart. When fearful she might lose her husband, Solomon's wife began to dwell on all the wonderful things about him. In return, she saw Solomon as God saw him. When that happened, she felt a desire for renewed intimacy and closeness of communication. She goes to him (she knows where he is, in his garden) and before she can say anything, he responds with love. He starts by saying she is beautiful, lovely and majestic, then he proceeds to repeat what he told her on their honeymoon... He describes her beauty, her features, then describes her as perfect, unique and highly favored. He goes to their vineyard (symbolic of their relationship) “to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom” (He forgives and forgets, optimistically looking for growth in their relationship). Before he realizes it, as a result of his response to her, he is lifted up and “set among the royal chariots,” a feeling like joining the President in his limo. And as expected, making up was a wonderful "experience" for both of them.
The day I learned all of this was my "Conflict Day," the day they showed the two-part study on conflict from Tommy Nelson’s 11-part Song of Solomon study to the singles group at my church. God arranged it that without Yvethe’s or my knowledge I would be seeing this video, I would also receive my "question of the day" from Yvethe (part of a project we are doing together) and she would ask me specifically how I deal with disagreements/conflict. Totally unrelated, she and I got into our very first conflict this same day! That evening, I read the only devotional I get at night, and it was on communication in marriage... The solution! God is simply amazing! I asked God to speak clearly to me and He has more than I could ever imagine (beside appearing to me Himself!). I know He is up there smiling as He orchestrates His will in my life. And I love seeing His fingerprints all over it!!!
Conflict is good because it leads to change. It also means both sides care enough to argue. If you don't care anymore, you have a problem. Conflict means you both have life... The key is how you handle it. The source of conflict seems to arise out of selfishness (rooted in pride) and the solution seems to be selflessness (rooted in humility). Love must cover and there must be willingness and communication from both. It takes two to have a conflict and it takes two to resolve it but the solution comes through selflessness and Christ-centeredness and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says the "fruit" or result of the Holy Spirit living in and through us is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Yvethe and I have pledged to do the following: “settle matters quickly” (Mt. 5:25), “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:11b), “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-4), to “...not let the sun go down while…still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26-27), “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32), “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” (Eph. 5:21), “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:12-15), “Let your conversations be always full of grace” (Col. 4:6), avoid “quarreling about words” (2 Tim. 2:14), have nothing “to do with foolish and stupid arguments because [we] know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Tim. 2:23-24), and love each other with Agape love, God’s unconditional love as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
The Lord used the above Scriptures to speak to me right after our conflict but I made the mistake of going right to Yvethe and "blasting" her with them, resulting in another conflict! It is so important to “be led by the Spirit,” not just letting Him guide and direct, but to be full of the Spirit and have the right spirit. God will give you the words and show you how to say them (Exodus 4:12). It is wise to wait to until you have the right spirit, His Spirit, before you have a big discussion, but to at least “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:11b) as soon as you can. There are many reasons for this. I was convicted by the command “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach…” (2 Tim. 2:23-24). I’m not “able to teach” if I don’t have unity and peace. I realized that the Holy Spirit is grieved by division and He can’t use me if I/we are divided. “Every city or household divided against itself cannot stand” (Matt. 12:25), a double-minded man is unstable in everything he does (James 1:8), and if I don’t treat her with respect, my prayers are hindered (1 Peter 3:7). There are a lot of principles here and I pray the Holy Spirit reveals them to you as He did to me. We must have right relationship with others if we are to have right relationship with God. The Bible says "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone," (Ro. 12:18) He has given us "the ministry of reconciliation," (2 Cor. 5:18) and "if your bother has something against you," we are commanded to "first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift [at the altar] (Matt. 5:23-24). The next verse says "settle matter quickly with your adversary..." and I think this is an important principle for all of us to follow. Resolve things as soon as possible, as far as it depends on you, and make sure you do it the right way with His Spirit.
Yvethe and I sat down and discussed how we are going to handle conflict. Doing this is essential for every couple. Issues are often conflicting but are never "irreconcilable differences," and if you are having issues, let us know! We may not have a lot of experience together but the Lord has taught us a lot in the area and may very well use us to help and encourage you as He has with others. And our church offers Biblical counseling which Yvethe and I are getting trained in and highly recommend.
There are three stages to relationships and each of those stages has its conflict in varying degrees.
The first stage is the "honeymoon" period. During the honeymoon period, everything is fresh and new and conflict is generally kept to a minimum. Yvethe and I didn't have any conflict for a long time. Just recently I did something wrong and thus began our first conflict and my study of this. It was also not coincidence that God provided exactly what I needed to know at the right time.
The next stage is the disillusionment period, literally meaning the time when illusions about the person you are with disappear. This stage happened during hurricane Wilma and it was then that I truly realized Yvethe is not perfect (sorry honey, you need to return the halo and wings!).
After the disillusionment period comes the phase of commitment when you truly discover your mate and commit to loving them biblically. As I mentioned, Yvethe and I sat down and discussed our commitment to each other and how we should handle conflict in the future. I think this was the best talk we ever had and it brought us closer together than anything else!
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
© Todd Tyszka
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