James 4:1-3 - “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
These verses in James tell it like it is. If you seem to be caught in a never-ending cycle of fighting with your spouse, you may want to take some time to study these verses. Instead of blaming your spouse for everything, why not look at what is going on in your own heart.
Are your problems that you continually struggle with traced to your own personal SELF-ish motives or desires? Do you feel entitled to something that may be unattainable or unreasonable? Do your desires become demands? Do you self-righteously judge others? Do you struggle to be free from feelings of resentment? Do you want to get even with someone? Do you harbor unforgiveness towards someone? We all struggle with these attitudes at one time or another.
Couples in troubled marriages seem to battle with common issues. Finances are currently the number one marriage stresser. The actual financial situation does not cause the problem; the problem is in how you handle it. What are your thoughts about it? What are your words to each other about it? What is your attitude about it? Are your selfish desires in the way? Are you honest with your spouse about your spending?
There may be a problem with your in-laws causing conflict in your marriage, or a disagreement with your spouse about raising your children. Whatever the problem, it turns into conflict when not handled properly or when not clearly communicated.
James 4 goes on in verses 7-10 to say, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Verse 7 says to submit your SELVES to God. There is that SELF word again. SELF is the biggest obstacle to our relationship with God and our relationship with our spouse. Verse 10 says to humble your SELVES before the Lord. That means get rid of any selfish motives, thoughts, ideas, and actions. This is what Christians mean by “dying to your SELF”.
When striving to live a Godly life, we need to be void of SELF. Yes, it is a daily struggle, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. And what will the Lord do when you humble your SELF according to verse 10? He will lift you up.
Verse 9 tells us to grieve, mourn and wail, turn your laughter to mourning, your joy into gloom. That simply means to repent of your sins, your old ways, your SELF. It doesn’t mean we should live our lives in mourning and without joy, but that we should grieve the sin we have held on to for so long. (Not the actual sin but the fact that we held on to it.) That sparks our desire to be humble.
Now that you are aware of some of the dynamics of conflict, maybe you can change the patterns of your fighting. Discover your trigger spots and critical mistakes. Work on changing your response and agree as a couple to break the vicious cycle that traps you.