Summary: 3rd in a 3 part series on marriage using three movies as the springboard to Biblical truth for marriages and relationships.
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: COPING WITH CONFLICT
Reel Relationships - Week 4
INTRODUCTION: (Video clip from Sleeping with the Enemy - 29:16-32:40 = 3:34)
Some conflict in marriage is so horrible people will do anything to get out. Every time I see that clip my heart breaks because I know there are people that are that afraid, that desperate and would love to be on a bus or anywhere else besides in their homes. That is so sad. But I also know marriages that break up not because of horrible actions, like abuse or adultery, but because the couple just cannot seem to handle what has become the constant and consistent fighting in their lives. Over time they have become estranged from one another because they haven’t learned how to cope with conflict. You know, all of us start out expecting happy homes, all of us want fulfilling marriages, but the honest truth is we are selfish people. And when we add another person into our life, we must juggle two people’s wants and desires and that’s not easy. You see, marriage doesn’t solve problems, it uncovers them. So the important question we need to ask this morning is not “do we have conflict” but "how are we handling our conflicts?" That may be the most critical inquiry we can make, because unless conflicts are dwelt with, they will chip away at our relationships and eventually destroy them.
I. RECOGNIZE ALL MARRIAGES HAVE CONFLICTS:
Let’s begin by admitting the reality: all couples fight! One preacher used to say, "If you say you have no conflict in your marriage then you either have a problem with lying or you have never wall papered with your spouse." This is not an earth shattering truth, all of us know and have experienced conflict. I’m thinking of the time several years ago that I was about to speak in chapel for our Church’s preschool and my wife was supposed to lead singing. But it was time to start and Deb was on the phone, so I became impatient and exasperated. So, when I went out to the auditorium, our Preschool Director, asked me, "Where’s Deb?" And I said in front of her and several teachers, "This is no news flash but she’s on the phone yakking her head off!" Then I turned around and there was Deb looking right behind me. Listen, if looks could kill!! Yeah, sweet Deb... it was the look... “You are so dead!” But I was frustrated and so made a bone headed statement that hurt my wife. And she gave me the kind of look where everyone else around just kind of silently slides away. And so with that between us she went up and led songs about love and I talked to the children about how we should love God and each other! And after work we had conflict! Oh yeah! The point is, every couple fights, every couple has conflict! Every one!
Someone has said there are three stages to marriage. There is 1)The honeymoon. That literally means “a sweet month.” Then comes 2)the “crash.” That’s where your dreams of a perfect marriage crash in the reality that things aren’t going to be perfect, there are going to be problems. You thought you married Matthew McConaughey, you got Homer Simpson. You thought you married Jessica Simpson, you got Roseanne. Then, stage 3) is the “Commitment” stage where you deal with reality and the two of you resolve to get through it. That stage is the “make it or break it” stage. Commitment is the very essence of marriage. But the truth is, all couples fight, so the most important question we can ask is, how do you fight?
You see, some couples fight dirty, which exposes their immaturity. Some couples fight clean, which exposes their maturity. Here is what I see as the difference. Couples who fight dirty press for a victory or to win the point. You become rivals in a contest. It’s extreme dodge ball and you’re going to not only hit them and win the point but you’re going to knock them out of the game! But couples who fight clean press for a solution, in other words, they want to resolve the problem by willingly applying compromise, understanding of the other’s view, whatever it takes to come to a resolution, not come away with a victory. The important thing to understand here is since conflict is inevitable, we must learn to fight clean.
So, all couples fight. In fact, I’ll go further. Marriages without conflict are unhealthy! Here’s a great verse for marriage. Prov. 14:4 - “Where there are no oxen, the barn is clean, but from the strength of an ox comes plentiful harvests.”(GW) Where no oxen are the stable is clean... that’s a fact. You don’t have to clean up when there are no animals. But you also get no work done! But from the strength of the ox.. That part of the ox that dirties up the stable makes it possible to work. The you’re a farmer in the day Prov. 14:4 is written and you want money you have to harvest crops. In order to harvest crops you’re going to have to plant, to plant you’re going to have to plow, to plow you’re going to have to have oxen, when you have oxen, oxen will do what oxen do.. They’ll dirty up your barn. The farmer can’t say, “I want money but I don’t like what oxen do, I don’t like what comes with oxen.” But if you want one you have to have the other. It’s true of much of life. This is not a “Burger-King” universe where you get it your way all the time! I love kids, I have three.. however, with kids comes dirty diapers, runny noses, hurt feelings and conflict. I love the church, some of my greatest joy is here... however, some of my deepest pain is here... why? Because the church is made up of imperfect people and there can be conflict. I love marriage, however... you’re going to conflict. No oxen, clean barn, no work, no money... money, work and a dirty barn. In order to have the joy that comes in marriage, you’ll have to recognize that there will be times of conflict.