Dear Friends,

This weekend my son-in-law and our associate pastor, Dr. Matt VanderWiele, is leading our annual Marriage Retreat in Nashville, Indiana.  This is a highlight every year and Matt’s teaching is exceptional.  Not only has he dug deeply into God’s word on the subject of marriage, he is also living this out with a blessed and healthy marriage.  It is so great to have Matt’s teaching.

The following is adapted from our Marriage Manual which we offer as a free PDF download on our Onward Church website:

Although we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, which is supposed to be a day to express love, many marriages struggle with conflict.  As long as there are two people (each of which has a sin nature) there will be conflict in marriage.    

THE SOURCE OF MARITAL CONFLICT:  What causes the conflict that we see in marriages?

James 4:1-3 (NLT)  “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.” 

Selfish desires… Our own selfish desires bring on the fighting and arguing.  It is because we demand our own way—our own rights—that causes so much marital discord.  We will even hate and deceive to get what we want.  We demand our own way so that we can “feel” like we are getting our needs met.  Selfish desires will ruin a marriage! 

Motivated to change.  Our attempt to demand what we want will end in futility.  This passage says that when we are focused on what we want, we will never get it!  We should be highly motivated to change the behavior that comes from selfishness.  Paul provides us with a strong incentive for settling our marital conflict.  In Philippians 4:2b he says, “…Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement” (NLT).  Since we belong to Christ, we should be highly motivated to stop this destructive behavior and resolve the conflicts in our marriage.


  1. Resolve conflict through a gentle answer:  Instead of responding to your spouse harshly, why not diffuse the tension by giving a humble and gentle answer?

Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.”  

  1. Resolve conflict through Godly wisdom: Applying Godly wisdom will avoid conflict.  Courtesy is another way to sooth your spouse when they are upset.  Yielding to the desires of your spouse is another way this passage solves disagreements.  Serving the needs of your spouse is another.  Also being honest and sincere with your spouse about your needs will resolve conflict before it happens.

James 3:17 (TLB) But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.” 

  1. Resolve conflict through unity, love and purpose: When a couple is united in one purpose for their lives, conflict is avoided.  Also, unconditional love is a cure for marital strife.

Philippians 2:2(NLT) Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.”   

  1. Resolve conflict through prayer: This may be the most overlooked method of dealing with marital conflict.  It is virtually impossible to pray with your spouse and be angry with them at the same time.  As you sincerely pray together, you will feel the discord melting away.

James 5:16 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

  1. Resolve conflict through humility: Conflict can only happen when both parties demand their own way.  If one is willing to yield, the conflict is avoided.  Selflessness is the most powerful tool in resolving conflict in your marriage.  If both are willing to yield to the other, conflict will be eliminated.

Philippians 2:3 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  

  1. Resolve conflict through forgiveness: God has provided forgiveness as the salve to dress the wounds of hurt.  Forgiveness will keep your conflicts from festering and rotting.   Remember, forgiveness is not an option—it is commanded!

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Have you resolved the conflict with God?  The Bible is very clear that until you have received forgiveness of sins, and have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are in conflict with God.

James 4:4a (NLT) Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God?” (NLT).

Romans 5:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (NLT).

Onward in peace,
Pastor Gary