Summary: Even mature, talented, Christian couples can find themselves dealing with conflicts of varying degrees. The story of Jacob and Rachel teaches us some valuable lessons about dealing with conflict. (Based on a book by Bob Russell)
Jacob & Rachel: Dealing With Conflict
(Fourth in the series Marriage by the Book)
Introduction: Even mature, talented, Christian couples can find themselves dealing with conflicts of varying degrees. We know that the great British preacher John Wesley and his wife Mary did not get along. Wesley and Mary Vazeille, a well-to-do widow and mother of four children, were married in 1751. By 1758 she had left him -- unable to cope, it is said, with the competition for his time and devotion presented by the ever-burgeoning Methodist movement. Toward the end of their relationship, Molly, as she was known, would make faces at John while he preached! She was to return and leave him again on several occasions before their final separation.
So, how do we confront the differences that surface in marriage? Do we careen; do we cheat; do we complain; or do we care enough to work things out?
Proposition: Although they did not handle things well, the story of Jacob and Rachel can teach us some valuable lessons about dealing with conflict.
1. Reasons for Conflict
In-laws, 26:16-17, 29:23
Laban took advantage of the situation: a 7 year labor of love
Tricked Jacob & married him to Leah…weak eyes. (got 7 more years of work from Jacob in the deal!) A poor relationship with in-laws can be a constant source of conflict!
Spiritual differences, 31:19, 34
Rachel was an idol worshiper
Bible warns us of this: 2 Cor. 6:14
It takes extra strength to remain faithful to the Lord while living with a mate who is hostile to Biblical values.
Feeling unloved, 29:31-34, 30:20
“Loneliness & the feeling of being unloved are the greatest poverty” (Mother Teresa). Too many couples have every material success the world could want, but are aching for their spouse to show them that they care.
A painful reminder that there are limits to human resources.
In Rachel’s day a woman’s self-worth came from bearing children to her husband.
Psalm 127:3-5; “Be fruitful & multiply.”
Sexual problems, 30:14, 15
Mandrakes were narcotic plants with roots that resembled human forms. They were thought to improve sexual drive
There are basic differences between men & women: Compare microwaves & crock pots; Light switches & irons. It is very hard to maintain a healthy sexual life in a monogamous relationship, let alone if someone is intimate with another outside of marriage (ADULTRY)
2. Responses to conflict
Explosion: emotional & physical abuse (rant, rave, throw things, curse, hitting)
Tears: can be healthy at times, but can also be used to manipulate & impede communication.
Consider the following email recently sent to me titled "WORDS WOMEN USE"
This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up. Never use "fine" to describe how a woman looks——this will cause you to have one of those arguments.
This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it’s an even trade.