JENNIFER FLANDERS, Family Matters:
Arguments in marriage are like dirty dishes in the sink - they’re best dealt with immediately. At least, that’s how my husband and I’ve come to see it.
We learned early on that putting off doing dishes does not make the chore any easier. I’m ashamed to admit that during the first few months of our honeymoon, we let the dishes stack up until milk soured, mold grew, and a cloud of midges hovered menacingly above our kitchen sink. It was truly disgusting.
Once we accepted the fact that dirty dishes don’t disappear if you ignore them, we learned to do this chore in a timelier fashion. We were careful not to make a bigger mess than necessary. We’d wash up as we worked while preparing the meal, so that after it was over, cleaning was a simple matter of loading a few cups, plates, and a handful of silverware into the dishwasher. And we also make a point to never leave dishes in the sink overnight.
I have found that abiding by these simple rules - don’t make unnecessary messes, wash up as you go, empty the sink before bedtime - makes the kitchen a vastly more pleasant place to work. Similar principles apply to conflict resolution in marriage: Address areas of conflict as they arise. And don’t go to bed angry. The rules are simple. They’re Biblical. And abiding by them makes our home an exceedingly more peaceful place to live.
AVOID UNNECESSARY ARGUMENTS
Rather than wearing your feelings on your sleeves or taking offense at every little thing your spouse does, cultivate an attitude of grace and forgiveness. Proverbs 17:4 tells us to “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” In Proverbs 20:3, we read, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.” (Prov. 20:3) And James 1:9 reminds us to “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
ADDRESS CONFLICTS AS THEY ARISE
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in the midst of conflict, despite your best efforts to avoid it. Deal with such matters in a timely fashion. Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, but it does give wounds an opportunity to fester until you soon have a bigger mess on your hands than you started with. Pray rather that God will give you the wisdom, love, and patience you need to resolve differences as they come up.
DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY
The Bible commands us not to let the sun go down on our anger. (Ephesians 4:26). When a married couple makes it their habit to resolve arguments before turning in for the night, they’re able to extend and receive grace and forgiveness and to sleep peacefully with a clear conscience. The alternative is tossing and turning night after night, never free of the stress, guilt, resentment, anger, and bitterness that swarm through your thoughts like a cloud of midges. Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather just deal with the mess right away?
Jennifer Flanders loves sleeping with a clear conscience and waking up to a clean kitchen, although the kitchen part is more of a challenge now that she has teens who go to bed later than she does. To read more from Jennifer, visit https://www.flandersfamily.info .