1. First, make a full list of all the things that you have been doing wrong in your marriage.
2. Second, confess your sins in repentance to God.
3. Third, determine to change according to Biblical precepts and examples, and write out specific proposals next to each item on the list.
4. Fourth, go humbly to your husband or wife…and admit your sins against them, telling them that you have sought and found God’s forgiveness and now desire theirs.
5. Fifth, having received forgiveness, seek to rectify any wrongs immediately whenever that is possible.
Remember still that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and make not a strange matter of it, as if you had never known of it before. If you had married one that is lame, would you be angry at her for [limping]? Or if you had married one that had a putrid ulcer, would you fall out with her because it stinketh? Did you not know beforehand, that you married a person of such weakness, as would yield you some manner of daily trial and offense? If you could not bear this, you should not have married her; if you resolved that you could bear it then, you are obliged to bear it now. Resolve therefore to bear with one another; as remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect, persons, not as angels, or as blameless and perfect .
Many conflicts in a marriage result from living to please self instead of living to please the Lord. These conflicts can be resolved and are actually opportunities for spiritual growth when dealt with in a biblical manner.
Bitterness is one of the most common causes of neglected sex. From the soil of anger and unresolved conflicts, a grows quickly into a virulent weed that chokes out intimacy. Married people turned bitter use their bodies as a weapon, a weapon that harms by withholding. A weapon used to punish the other person for sinning against us. This calls for forgiveness.
There’s no gridlock with God…no stalemate…no tie game. If a husband and wife have talked things out, but cannot come to agreement on a matter, the Bible teaches that the husband’s authority prevails. By divine design God has entrusted to the husband leadership and authority with which to wisely and lovingly rule the household. The husband is not guaranteed the smartest decisions–but God does expect him to exercise leadership in the home and to have the power to veto (break up an impasse with his vote). However, this does not give him the right to be arrogant and to flaunt his authority, or to run roughshod over other family members’ feelings. He has no right to refuse to listen to his wife, to withdraw from confrontational discussions, to act in anger, or to act in a non-understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). He has no right to exasperate his children or anyone else in the family. He must love his wife even as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for it. Because of the Biblical doctrine of ‘male headship,’ I place (and I believe God places) the brunt of the responsibility for family growth, happiness, and harmony, upon the husband. Since he is the one entrusted with leadership, he is the one chiefly responsible for leading the family towards the goal of Christlikeness (Peter Wise).
Like Elijah, Jeremiah, Jesus, or Paul, you may be experiencing intense loneliness. A woman does not have to be single to be lonely. She can be married and living with her husband. In fact, her loneliness may be exaggerated because of feeling trapped in a marriage with a man who is withdrawn and aloof. Elijah and Jeremiah were overwhelmed with their loneliness. Jesus and Paul were not. The difference is Elijah and Jeremiah felt sorry for themselves while Jesus and Paul sought refuge in God.
A profound understanding and fear of God’s wrath is exactly what many marriages need, because without it, the gospel is diluted down to mere human relations and loses its biblical glory. Without a biblical view of God’s wrath, you will be tempted to think that your wrath – your anger – against your spouse is simply too big to overcome, because you have never really tasted what it is like to see an infinitely greater wrath overcome by grace, namely, God’s wrath against you.
The gospel of Christ crucified for our sins is the foundation of our lives. Marriage exists to display it. And when marriage breaks down, the gospel is there to forgive and heal and sustain until He comes, or until He calls.
People “fall in love” because they want to. When you “fell in love” with your wife, you were not struck with some external force such as Cupid’s arrow. Neither were you dazzled by some external influence such as Love Potion #9. The romantic feelings you enjoyed, which you claim to have now lost, were of your own making. They were created in your own heart. They, like your other feelings, were largely the result of your thoughts and ways. You “fell in love” with your spouse as a result of what you did to, for, and with her and as a result of what you told yourself about her. You created those romantic feelings, and by God’s grace, you can make them come back.
I can tell you without any fear of contradiction or oversimplification that the root cause of all marriage conflicts is selfishness. I can say that because there’s probably no better practical synonym for the concept of sin than selfishness. Sin (i.e., selfishness) is at the heart of all marriage problems.
One of the things that can help very different spouses the most (in conflict resolution) is growth in God’s Word. The more we have God’s Word in common as husbands and wives, the more we will agree. The more each mind is renewed (changed) by the Scripture, the more similarly a couple will think (Romans 12:2). One of the worst things a couple can do is work to change one another into each other’s likeness. They are to be changed, rather, into Christ’s likeness. The more a couple works at love and becoming one, the more differences will be accepted and blended to enhance the marriage.
In every marriage that ends in disaster, some stupid decisions were made with respect to God’s regulations. If God’s regulations were followed scrupulously, not only would there be no divorces; there would be no unhappy marriages. To violate the regulations of God is not only an exercise in disobedience but also an exercise in foolishness. If you want a happy marriage, the most intelligent thing you can do is to submit to God’s regulations. They are designed to promote and protect your full happiness.
To solve a marriage problem, you have to talk with each other about it, choosing wisely the time and place. But when accusations and lengthy speeches of defense fill the dialogue, the partners are not talking to each other but past each other. Take care to listen more than you speak. If you still can’t agree on a solution, consider asking a third party, without a vested interest, to mediate.