4 Tips from 1st Corinthians to Help Mend Conflict in Your Marriage
By Amanda Idleman
Paul was one of the main writers of the New Testament. He
spends a lot of time helping us understand what love should
look like in the book of 1 Corinthians. It is in this the 13th
chapter of this book of the Bible that we find the “love chapter” that is commonly read at weddings. In fact, this entire book of the Bible is about love and even more specifically Paul teaches some useful lessons on how we can navigate relational conflict in a loving manner.
1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge
puffs up while love builds up .”
One of the most important takeaways from Paul’s teachings is
the realization that the pursuit of knowledge without love in
conflict leads to pride and further divisions. When we pursue
“being right” over “building a relational bridge” the focus is on
winning and the result is an even bigger relational gap.
On the flip side, when we pursue God’s love in our relationships, our goal shifts from being correct to being there
to build each other up . The loving approach to conflict comes
from a place of humility, from a desire for the person we are at odds with to win, and is filled with empathy. Love builds up.
Who Was Paul Writing to and Why?
Paul is the writer of 1 Corinthians, the first verse from chapter
8 was Paul’s response to a conflict that was causing division
in this early church. The church members were not able to
agree about which foods were okay in the eyes of God for them to eat.
Historically, the Jewish people followed strict dietary
guidelines as a part of their adherence to God’s instructions.
The Gentiles had not grown up following these restrictions so,
therefore, had a different point-of-view on what counted as
In addition, much of the meat that was available at that time
was first offered as a sacrifice to the pagan gods. Many of the
new Christians believed that it was wrong for them to eat this
defiled meat while others felt that their freedom in Christ
redeemed the meat and made it acceptable to eat.
Surprisingly, Paul responds to this dispute without addressing
who is right or wrong about the status of the meat. Instead,
Paul explains that what is most important is that we are not
acting as a stumbling block to each other. Ultimately, he is
saying it’s about showing love, building each other up, and our
personal feelings about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of this
meat is a secondary issue. We can learn so much from Paul’s approach to resolving this tension in this new church and apply the lessons from this passage to help us better navigate marital conflicts. Here are 4 takeaways from the passage to help mend conflicts in your marriage :
- 1. Unity is found when we approach one another with humility.
- Paul’s words remind us that when we face conflict, we need to be most mindful of our posture before even attempting to try to untangle the details of what is driving a wedge between us and our spouse. We can overcome almost any disagreement if we approach one another with a humble heart
and by using loving words.
- 2. Be Willing to Listen First
- Conflict only escalates when we refuse to carefully listen to our partner. If our aim is to get on the same page, we have to be willing to listen first. This simple but sometimes incredibly difficult act of humility communicates so much value to your spouse in a moment of disagreement!
When communicating it is really key that you take the time to both summarize and affirm your partner. A simple way to show that you are listening is to resist the urge to interject
while your spouse is speaking. Once they are finished talking then take a moment to offer a short recap of what they have shared with you. This is a great way to show that you are truly putting out the effort to hear all of what they are trying to say. Before sharing your “side of the story” pause to verbalize the fact that you love them and are on their team, even when you don’t see things the same way. It is so important to show that you are willing to listen and that you care about their feelings. Listening is about considering your partner; it should not be a chance to formulate more ways to communicate to them that you believe that they are wrong.
- 3. Be Honest and Open When it Is Your Turn to Communicate
Once you have taken the time to hear what is on your partner’s mind and assured them that you care about what they have to say the next step is to share your thoughts on the matter. Trust is built and maintained in our relationships when we remain committed to being open and kind in our
communication with each other.
Take care that your feedback is expressed in a loving manner. Honesty is important but not at the emotional expense of your spouse. Find ways to share what is on your mind that uses language that is not accusatory. Remember the path forward is one that you guys forge together.
- 4. Find a Path Forward Together
- After you both have had a chance to communicate openly about how you are feeling then it is time to find a way forward
that you can both agree upon. If you face an issue that feels like it will remain a stumbling block to one of you if change doesn’t occur, then it’s worth avoiding that activity out of love for your spouse. There are no disagreements so important that winning trumps your relationship. Even when you face irreconcilable differences doing everything you can to show your partner
love and forgiveness is what a marriage that follows after the model that Jesus sets for us calls for. When you realize that your number one job in your relationship is to love one another above anything else then the way you face conflict in your relationship will be transformed!
- The next time you face a conflict in your marriage, remember, it’s not about the meat! The goal is always finding a path forward that genuinely shows love for one another . What a transformational way to approach your marriage! May you be one that remembers that love builds up.
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