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On Marital Conflicts: 3 ways to win – By losing

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From a worldly standpoint, "winning by losing" is a paradox that is difficult to grasp. But from a heavenly perspective, “winning by losing” simply means "losing one’s self in order to lay hold of true forgiveness, humility, and submission.” One who “loses” this way, in the end, is one who really wins.

In marital disputes, you apply this principle when you:

1. Lose the tendency to trust other sources instead of God’s Word.

In dealing with marital conflict, spouses often turn more to their feelings and intuitions, close friends, or even marriage counselors for guidance than to the Word of God. Counsel from these sources is OK but should always be checked against what God says. Since the Bible contains God’s standard for marriage and His principles on being a godly husband and wife (Hebrews 13:4, Ephesians 5:31, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, etc.), His written Word should be the primary source of wisdom.

If God is the center of your marriage, the Bible should be the absolute authority by which you base all your decisions and actions. You should trust His Word and not depend on your own or others' understanding of your situation (Proverbs 3:5-6).


2. Lose the urge to keep a record of wrongs.

When you are angry, you may feel tempted to bring up past mistakes. You may be doing this to justify yourself or to establish a position demanding forgiveness by recalling how you've been wronged. Whichever the case, none of these reflect genuine love – “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). When you keep a mental record of past offenses, you risk bringing up hurts or heartaches that have already been forgiven.

As Christians, we are to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1). And God's forgiveness is nothing like that. God is a pardoning God (Micah 7:18). When we came to salvation by faith in the Lord, He buried our transgressions as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He does not impute our sins to us (Psalm 32:2; Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19). This is the kind of forgiveness He demands from us as His children (Luke 6:37). If, however, our inclination is to keep an account of wrongs, we should repent and pray to God for forgiveness.

Further, when you harbor a grudge (to the point of resentment) towards to your spouse, you commit murder in your heart. The Lord says that if you hate someone, you’re guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21,22). 1 John 3:15 also says, “Anyone who hates [his] brother or [his] sister is a murderer" (NIV).

Lastly, when you say you've forgiven something and yet bring it up in the heat of your anger, you have not truly forgiven at all. Genuine forgiveness involves a promise not to keep reminding yourself or your spouse of the offense already confessed and repented from. Real forgiveness does not take into account grievances for future retaliation. It chooses to forget the evil and remember the good (cf. Hebrews 10:17; Isaiah 43:25).

3. Lose your pride and be willing to serve your spouse. 


When you trust human knowledge and your instinct over God’s Word: that is pride. When you do so to get some sort of self-validation: that is pride. When you make memories out of the wrong and withhold forgiveness: that, too, is pride. And whenever you choose to serve yourself at the expense of another (especially at the cost of disobeying God and His Word): that is, certainly, selfishness rooted in pride. Pride is putting one's self above everything. It is the complete opposite of love, which is selflessness (1 Corinthians 13:5).

If you want to love your spouse according to God's standards, you need to get rid of pride, submit to God, and depend on His grace to help you love and serve your spouse willingly and lovingly through conflicting times.

In summary, you “win" in marital conflicts when you (1) trust God's will, and not your own, as Christ trusted his Father's will (John 6:38, Luke 22:42); (2) choose to forgive as Christ forgives (Ephesians 4:32); and (3) deny yourself for the sake of loving your spouse “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25) to the glory of God.

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