By Kristin Milner
Pursuing unity in marriage takes work. But it’s a high calling that honors God and your husband. Here’s how I’ve learned to pursue unity in my marriage.
Disunity in Marriage
The night before Christmas Eve, I totally lost it on my husband. Perhaps all the shopping, gift wrapping, cookie baking and attempts to make Christmas special in the midst of a global pandemic had taken a greater toll on me than I realized.
My husband brought up an ongoing issue (the laundry). Not only was I drowning in chores, preparing to host our family for Christmas Eve, and wrapping up homeschool for our three daughters, I was also recovering from a stomach virus.
Why wasn’t it obvious to him that I was struggling to keep up with it all?
The truth is, I had been struggling with all the things for weeks. My husband always came home to a messy house, no dinner and unfolded laundry sprawled all over our bed.
We were both exhausted from the constant chaos.
We both felt unheard and misunderstood. I didn’t like how he was trying to help, and he didn’t like how I was doing things. We went around in circles for months, both becoming embittered towards the other.
We stood in the dark with the Christmas lights glowing, shocked at what had just happened. I didn’t realize how much pent up anger I had until I found myself screaming and throwing breakfast leftovers.
Pursuing Unity in Marriage
I’ve always thought avoiding conflict would provide the greatest peace among everyone. That was wrong. Now I know peace comes through healthy conflict.
We often think of conflict as a negative thing. As something to avoid. However, time and again, we see that Jesus welcomed healthy conflict. In Matthew 5 and 18, Jesus gives guidance on how we can resolve conflict with one another.
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Peacemaker. For too long, I told myself this meant avoider. However, avoiding issues (which includes discussing them with friends not involved in the conflict) only leads to bitterness and resentment.
Peacemakers pursue unity. They do the hard work of facing conflict in a healthy way.
4 Steps to Pursuing Unity in Marriage
How can we take practical steps towards pursuing unity in marriage? Here are four tips for you to apply.
- Address the small issues quickly.
The longer we wait to resolve an issue, the more anger builds.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned that a believer who harbored anger against a brother or sister was just as guilty in God’s eyes as a murderer. Since that is how God sees your anger, how important is it to process it quickly?
- Listen carefully without being defensive.
When the other person states their concern, don’t get defensive. Instead, repeat their concerns back to them. Too often, my husband says one thing, and I hear another. By repeating back concerns, you bring assurance that you both understand how the other person is really feeling.
- Propose a solution.
Once you both feel assured you understand one another’s concern, propose a solution. What would you like to be done differently? This is the time to share what changes you would like to see or commit to making.
- Forgive and move forward.
True forgiveness is difficult. It’s more than saying you are sorry, then going to your friends and continuing to complain about the issue.
Let’s be women who are pursuing unity in marriage. Let’s do the hard work of being peacemakers, who are blessed in God’s eyes.
Wife Step: Plan a time to talk with your husband about a small issue which could lead to resentment. Be honest with him about how it makes you feel, and propose a solution you want to work on together.
Kristin is the pastor wife to her hubby and best friend, Tim. Together they have three beautiful girls, and an unusually gorgeous cat named Scooter. Kristin helped start Essential Church in Huntsville, Al, where her husband is the lead pastor. She loves to encourage women with Biblical truth and funny stories at www.kristinmilner.com.