Gary Smalley once said, “ Conflict is not a wall to be avoided, but a door to deeper intimacy.” For the first 10 years of our marriage, Monica and I avoided conflict. We thought that Godly marriages couldn’t involve conflict. On our healing journey, we learned that conflict is part of God’s Plan.
All throughout the pages of the Bible, from Genesis to the last battle in Revelation, conflict is one of God’s tools for accomplishing His purposes. In marriage, it’s no different. If we’re honest, there’s conflict every day, and we can choose to avoid it – or Biblically resolve it, and grow deeper.
So, how do we do that? There’s a lot of great marriage advice in Ephesians 5, but one verse that is often overlooked is 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. Submitting to one another is the act of making your spouse more important than you…and it’s NOT human nature. It takes YEARS of practice, so don’t worry – just stay on the journey to selflessness.
For husbands, this is not in conflict with verse 22…you’re not abdicating Biblical authority over your wives, simply laying aside all selfishness and authoritarian dominance. You’re laying down your life for your wife , as you selflessly seek her highest good (Eph. 5:25-29). So in the context of Biblically resolving conflict, mutual submission says, “ You are more important to me than being right.” You realize that the cause of most marital conflict is the deep rooted selfishness all of us.
Ephesians 5:21 helps kill it. Ruth Graham Lotz said, “ A good marriage is just the union of two good forgivers.” Excel at the art of forgiving.