Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
John, our teenager, was looking forward to a weekend event with his buddies at church. But he never got to go. Why?
Because each of us thought the other had submitted the payment, but neither of us had. And it was too late. All the spots were filled. John wasn’t happy and our marriage was feeling the pain.
“You always take care of that stuff,” Les exclaimed.
“But this was something you and John talked about.”
“I know but I still thought you had the paperwork to fill out,” Les protested.
“I did but you could have done it.”
We blamed each other for a few moments and then one of us said, “Okay, I can see why you thought I was taking care of it.”
That was that.
Constant kindness can accomplish much.
As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
Chalk it up to a simple misunderstanding. Every marriage is full of them. Right? They’re endemic. And if any couple says they don’t have many misunderstandings, they’re misunderstanding the question. They’re a part of every married couple’s life. And if we don’t learn how to manage them, we’ll soon be embroiled in perpetual conflict.
Misunderstandings are exasperating for the simple fact that both sides see it from their angle only.
It’s simple. It only takes one person to put their perspective on hold and see the issue from their partner’s point of view. That’s all.
If one person does this, the misunderstanding is resolved, the tension eases, and life moves forward.
It only takes one person to turn around a misunderstanding by honoring the other’s perspective. That’s what the Apostle Paul is getting at this week’s verse.
When we honor our partner we have an internal attitude of respect and courtesy. But it’s more than lip service (see Isaiah 29:13). It’s changing our perspective because we see the issue through our partner’s eyes.
Reflect and Respond
How do you typically handle misunderstandings in your marriage?
Go ahead, tell us in the comments.
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Making Happy explores the science and practice of happiness in marriage. It offers insights into how your brain and relationship affect each other as you make happiness in your marriage a conscious, delightful habit.
The initiative for resolving conflicts between spouses is ideally the man’s, rather than the woman’s, according to the role models of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2: 7-25) and Jesus Christ and his “church” (Matt. 16: 13-28; 27: 50-56).
Hmm. Seems to us that God call ALL of us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:24; Matthew 4:24; James 1:19; Proverbs 15:1; Col 3:15; Eph 4:26; and so on and so on).
I try to set my pride. If i can get over the taught that i have to be right all of the time, then we can resolve the conflict and move on.
That’s a tough one for all of us, Mike. We know exactly what you mean.
This article really helped me. My husband and I have been married 41 years but allowed others to interfere and brought conflict. I ordered the Making Happy book and look forward to reading and applying it to our troubled marriage.
Mary: We are SO glad you found this helpful. Let us know how the Happy book works for you two. Hope you can do the 21 Day Happiness Plan that it includes.
The breakup of my dysfunctional marriage was suspended and reversed for good by an unexpected encounter with a mysterious VISION of the self-revealing Christ, by means of the kind of death he suffered, as repeatedly confirmed in the Scriptures.
Only in him, have my wife and I found sustainable faith, abundant life and indivisible unity soon to survive 50th Anniversary.
Praise the Lord!
For years something like this would have put us in a tail spin. Thank God in the last few years we have learned how deal with these kinds of things in more emotionally healthy way. You’re correct, honor and repect now plays a huge part in how we respond and REACT to each other. Putting all we’ve learned in play has taken practice. Slowly we have learned and are still learning healthy habits.
That’s fantastic, Tammy. We can identify with the word “practice.” It takes years of trying to getting it right – over and over. Blessings!
I needed this article this week! Thank you very much. I am still ‘newlywed’ 3 years and we are still figuring each other out and trying to learn how to ‘fight’ better. I am going to keep this in mind the next time there is a misunderstanding. Thank you again for the article.
So glad to hear this, Jewels. And thanks for taking the time to let us know. Sure appreciate that.
If you feel you are ALWAYS the peacemaker, don’t grow weary in doing the right thing – you have been given the gift of humility and grace. Keep doing the right thing – put your perspective on hold and look at the situation through your partner’s eyes, AGAIN, and you will step into the JOY of a healed relationship – do it as an offering unto the Lord. After all, HE does it again and again and again for each of us……
[…] I commend this short post by Les and Leslie Parrott on how to deal with misunderstanding in your marriage in a godly way. […]
One thing that interferes with being able to “honor the other person’s perspective” (which is a great way to phrase that) is the drive to “be right.” Sometimes the issue is not that one person is right and the other is wrong. It’s, as you say, perspective. Putting yourself in their shoes. Considering the history of how things are usually done. Considering how the episode unfolded.
Once again, grace with each other is so key to our love and growth.
By the way, I was struck by Ephraim’s courageous comment that the initiative to resolve conflict in a marriage rests with the man. That certainly could be seen as an expression of strength (John Eldredge). Cloud and Townsend would not make that distinction according to what they have written in Boundaries in Marriage. What do you think?
Ha! When it comes to resolving conflict in marriage we want all hands on deck. We’ll take resolve no matter who is strong enough in a particular moment to set pride aside and open the door to resolution and peace. We believe God call ALL of us to be peacemakers (and there are numerous Bible passages that speak to this, of course).
We typically argue about who’s “right” and the conflict usually remains. Thanks for showing us a better way!
Thanks, Rubi, for your comment. That’s an easy trap to fall into for couples, for sure. We’ve been there, too.
We have a simple solution in our marriage….
But for reals; great advice. And I agree that this is one area in marriage gender doesn’t play a role outside of joking that it’s always the man who is wrong, lol. The next lesson is taking the time to figure out how to avoid a repeat of the same kind of misunderstanding in the future. Couples will hit road bumps….and backing up to hit the same one over and over is exhausting.
Wise words, as always, Eric. Sure appreciate you chiming in.
I’m so encouraged with every devotional you send. Thanks.
Boy, I have to admit my wife and have very little conflict in our marriage, and when it happens, we each actually try to take blame. There’s a lot of things that go into this, but to make a long story short, since this is the second time around for both of us, and we have put God in the driver’s seat, we find it much easier to accept life’s little ups and downs and deal with it without pointing blame. This is a great article, and we will use it in our mentoring process. Thanks again.
This being my second marriage, the first to a mentally healthy husband, I did much learning about myself in a mire of dysfunction, so can appreciate more about how to empathize with my hubby.
It is not easy, maybe especially for women, who tend to be emotionally sensitive, to put aside any hurt or other negative feelings that I may have in response to his actions or words. But when I ask God to slap His hand over my mouth and give me His view of the situation, I almost always see how it is more of a learning and growth opportunity rather than a reason to argue or fuss.
When both partners love God and truly have love for each other, healthy resolutions to those road bumps are not that hard to find. And resolving the bumps makes us stronger to withstand really hard things!
God bless your ministry and thank you for being real!
I so enjoy your devotionals/helpful teachings for cultivating a health/healthier marriage. Additionally, I love all your material, there is alot of material on the market today and I am extremely careful about what I choose to read. We are taught and commanded to lead Holy Spirit led lives and this is definitely an area I lean heavily on the Spirit for. I do have a question that I hope you will be open to. I’m sure the two of you read material written by other authors and was wondering if you’ve read or heard of “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs? I have to tell you, often when I have been reading your material, specifically your devotionals, For Men Only, For Women Only, and Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Seven Questions to Ask Before and After Your Married as well as small bits of other works that you have authored, I am prompted and drawn, in an excited kind of way, to an area of Dr. Eggerichs’s “Love and Respect” and I’m like . . . “OMG this so works with, builds on, aligns with what Eggerichs is say in Love and Respect! For example, he speaks about the things i.e. little foxes that can get us spinning on the crazy cycle such as blaming one another for dropping the ball on something. And then where you say ” It only takes one person to turn around a misunderstanding by honoring the other’s perspective such as you did by saying ““Okay, I can see why you thought I was taking care of it.” Dr. Eggerichs mentions how women wear pink shaded sunglasses and pink hearing aids, while men wear blue shadded sunglasses and blue hearing aids. Whereby we men/women, husbands/wives perspectives are very different in the way we see, hear and develop/formulate our perspectives. However, when one or the other chooses as you say to put there perspective on hold to prevent and ongoing conflict, they are as Eggerichs says choosing to look and listen through each others lenses and hearing aids at the issue/situation whereby making a conscious decision to honor the others perspective avoid a conflict that could excalate to an unnecessary place whereby find them selves on the Crazy Cycle of no love no respect. All this said, it is my humble opinion that the work of Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot and Dr. Eggerichs are divinely inspired works that God is using to not only strengthen, build and grow but also to save marriages. (Props also to Jimmy and karen Evans) God Bless
We focus on listening to each other’s perspective and trying to understand. Sometimes a break is needed.
All good life experience.