Many people view conflict in a marriage as a sign of incompatibility and a reason to end the union — whether physically or emotionally (as in, remain married but create emotional distance).
I want to offer a different perspective, which has helped me protect and maintain my “I do” to my wife.
If you were to think about the healthiest marriage you, as an example to which you aspire, the couple would certainly admit that their marriage is not one without conflict. That means conflict is not the problem …
… the problem is the perspective that one brings into the marriage concerning a conflict. I want to highlight a process that I believe best illustrates the purpose of conflict in a marriage. In ancient times, when blacksmiths made swords, spears, daggers, and other weapons of similar nature, they would do so through a process called tempering.
That process went as follows: The blacksmith would take iron ore and beat it on an anvil with a steel mallet to make it flat and even. Then, he would put the metal in a furnace. When the metal became red-hot from the fire, the blacksmith would be able to detect dark spots in it, which indicated areas of weakness. Wherever he saw a dark place, he would hammer at it until he couldn’t see it anymore.
Then, he’d take the glowing metal and thrust it in freezing water. This caused all the molecules in the metal to move close together, strengthening it. He would repeat this process, and in this way, the sword would repeatedly be subjected to a process that took it from a burning fire to ice-cold water, until eventually, no weak spots remained.
The purpose of this process was to ensure that the swords of the soldiers don’t break in the heat of battle because the success and safety of the soldiers depended on it.
They had to be able to place confidence in the strength and durability of their weapons, and the only way they could trust their swords was to know that they had gone through this “tempering” process.
When I discovered this, it further solidified the thought process and attitude I had already begun to cultivate concerning our conflict in marriage.
The same way swords and other weapons were tempered, so our marriages are tempered. The sword represents marriage and as it relates to the sword, the heat of the furnace, the beating of the steel mallet, and cold water all represent the conflicts and pressures of life that come with being married.
I’m not talking about the minor conflicts like who’s going to wash the dishes …
… I mean those conflicts that have the potential to destroy you and your relationship.
Those conflicts are not meant to break you or your marriage; it is intended to strengthen you and ultimately, your union.
The conflict comes to expose the weak areas of your marriage, which provides the opportunity to strengthen that area so that when you all go out to “have dominion” (Genesis 1:28) and conquer in life, your sword (marriage) is strong enough so that it doesn’t break in the conquest of battle!
A sword is both a defensive and offensive weapon and when your sword breaks; your whole life (personal and public) becomes exposed and vulnerable to attacks.
The covenant of marriage is a powerful weapon, and when it is done right, it becomes one of the tools in the arsenal of God that He uses to advance His Kingdom in the earth and break the powers of hell over individuals and families.
The conflicts that my wife and I experienced during our pre-marital and early marital stages served to strengthen us to the point we are today.
Was it easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
There were times that she wanted to call it quits, and I can understand that. Human nature and emotions sometimes get the best of us. However, my responsibility as her husband is to anchor our relationship in the perspective that this present conflict is to strengthen us.
When these conflicts happen, I tell her: “Don’t worry, it’s all part of our story.” Here’s Bible for that: Romans 8:28 NLT — “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY YES!
The lessons we learned and the boundaries we outlined as a result of those conflicts are things that we still draw from to this day. Always keep this in mind: Conflict is a neutral occurrence.
It is not unnecessary nor is it to be taken personal, conflict is necessary. Even though we don’t like to hear that, it is the truth. Ask yourself these questions while you think about it:
- How do you know what you both are made of without conflict?
- How do you know you can depend on your spouse and vice versa without conflict?
- Do you truly believe that you are better together?
- If so, what situation proved that to you?
- What or how many furnaces of fire, mallet beatings, and cold water baths have you been through that served to strengthen your marriage?
Every sword is viewed the same when there is no battle. It isn’t until the action starts that we know which swords have been through the process and which ones have not.
So, do not view conflict as negative. It only becomes harmful when it is not viewed through the correct lens and subsequently handled incorrectly.
A good marriage is not about the absence of conflict, especially those marriages with two strong personality types. Building a good marriage is about having the right perspective before, during, and after the conflict.
Conflict is to strengthen you and your marriage, but if you always run from it, you will never grow through the issues that make your sword stronger at the other end.
If you don’t allow your sword to be strengthened, don’t be surprised when it breaks on you in the middle of the battle for dominion — leaving an untold number of casualties in its wake.
Darren Wilson is on a mission to help people uncover their potential and discover their purpose so that they may live effectively in their generation. Darren is the author of several books, a dynamic speaker and communicator, as well as an entrepreneur with two growing companies. Darren and his wife Charmaine live in Saint Martin and they are the proud parents of Darren Wilson Jr.