Several weeks ago, I had a disagreement with a close friend with whom I was organizing an event. The crux of the disagreement — spontaneity versus preparedness — struck on some core differences between us. The conflict escalated into a heated argument in front of some other friends. After our meeting was over, I offered a quick apology for my reaction and my friend offered to stay and talk.
It seemed to me that the more we talked, the more uncomfortable things became. It was clear we were not going to agree on this issue, which I considered very important. I also felt justified in my position. In my hurt and frustration, the first thought that flashed across my brain was, I’m SO glad I’m not married to this person! My second thought: Oh, no! Maybe this is what marriage is like!
My friend and I managed to reconcile. We agreed to not let our conflict go public in the future and instead to deal with it privately. We affirmed that we valued one another. We agreed to each work on weaknesses in our lives that might lessen the tension. Still, the resolution wasn’t completely satisfying because we didn’t share the same opinion. We had to agree that sometimes his desires would win out and other times mine would.
I talked to a married friend about this situation, and she confirmed that these moments do indeed happen in marriage. As a single person, I encounter them rarely. Carolyn McCulley offers a good explanation of this. She writes:
As singles, it’s easy for us to simply avoid each other or run away when the conflict is not easily resolved. I think that’s the revelation of marriage: I can’t run away any longer. I am in a covenant relationship with my spouse and I must deal with this conflict to make this marriage work. But we should have the same mindset as singles. There are important relationships in our lives, too: family members, church members, long-time friends, pastors, bosses, etc. We should be sowing toward faithfulness, charitable judgments (or thinking the best about others), humility, and perseverance in those relationships, too.
I am thankful that my friend offered to stay and talk with me instead of avoiding the conflict. Even though we didn’t entirely agree on the issue at hand, we did agree that our relationship was important enough to work things out. Such a response, though uncomfortable, establishes godly habits that will extend to many relationships now and in the future.