Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage

By Ron Adema,  Pastor of Doctrinal Studies Bible Church

Conflict and Communication


90% of Americans will marry by age of 45.  50% of these will divorce, 75% of those divorced will remarry and 60% of those remarried will divorce a second time! These statistics reveal at least three facts about marital "conflict and communication" in America.

1. Our first choice in marriage is usually the best choice.

2. We seem to be able to easily find a person to marry, but find it very difficult to remain married to that person.

3. We seem to be able to work through pre-marital conflict well enough to get married, but are unable to work through marital conflict well enough to remain married

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Unfortunately this seems to be true of Christians as well as non-Christians in our present day culture.

In this booklet, we have studied the specific instructions given in 1 Peter 3:1-7, to the Christian wife and husband.  Now, “to sum it up” we will study Peter’s summary of marriage and how to deal with "marital conflict" in it from 1 Pet. 3:8-9.

Spiritual and Carnal aspects of Conflict

In 1 Pet.3:8-9, Peter gives us both the positive and negative approaches to marital conflict: five spiritual factors on how to resolve it and two carnal factors that will further inflame it!

The following five spiritual factors are used to resolve marital conflict (1 Pet. 3:8).

• Let all be harmonious (homophon) like-minded and willing to compromise to become one mind.

• Let all be sympathetic (sumpathes) share in the suffering of another and willing to hear their hurt.

• Let all be brotherly (philadelphos) friendship love and willing to set aside self-interest.

• Let all be kindhearted (eusplagchos) affectionate and willing to forgive faults and wrongs.

• Let all be humble in spirit (tapeinophron) humble minded and willing to go the second mile.

The following two carnal factors should be avoided because they are throwing fuel on the fire of marital conflict (1 Pet. 3:9).

• Returning evil for evil – Don’t retaliate no matter how hurtful but be willing to give a blessing.

• Returning insult for insult – Don’t speak hurtful words but be willing to give healing words as a blessing.

“But giving a blessing (eulogeo/ p.a.ptc.nplm) instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

We will illustrate these carnal factors in the marital conflict between David and Michal and Michal’s father (Saul) and how they further inflamed their marital conflict.

Case Study: David and Michal

David was Michal’s first love.  They were equivalent to the homecoming queen and the star football player falling madly in love in storybook form (1 Sam. 18:14, 20).  This love story also has an interfering parent (1 Sam. 18:21-29).  This is one reason God forewarned parents and those marrying about leaving and cleaving:

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31)

This is also a story about couples not cleaving (intimacy of togetherness) into one flesh and the heartaches that come from the two carnal factors mentioned by Peter (1 Pet. 3:8-9).

Saul tried to destroy their marriage from the start and when that failed he tried to have David murdered (1 Sam. 19-20).  Michal and her brother Jonathan aided David in escaping Saul’s plot but at great cost to all of them.

“So Saul said to Michal, ‘why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” (1 Sam. 19:17)  “Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.” (1 Sam. 25:44)

“Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, ‘you son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?” (1 Sam. 20:30)

“Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down.” (1 Sam. 20:33) It is a miracle of God’s grace that these two children turned out as good as they did.

Years later when Saul and Jonathan were dead and David was made king and had remarried, David summoned Michal (2 Sam. 3:13-15).  By now, Michal also had remarried and her husband loved her very much.  Her husband pleaded for her but David wouldn’t listen (2 Sam. 3:16).  He was determined to return evil for evil and insult for insult (2 Sam. 6:15-23; Prov. 16:2; 17:13; 20:3).

This love story ends in sadness and despair: “she despised David in her heart” (2 Sam. 6:16) “and Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.”  (2 Sam. 6:23; Prov. 14:10)

Marital conflict fought "in the flesh" (carnality of Old Sin Nature) (OSN) (1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:11) has been described as two snakes taking each other by the tail and swallowing each other. Paul warns about this danger in (Gal. 5:15) “But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.” (See also Prov. 19:11)

When everything is going well in our marriage, we think we have sufficient communication until some unresolved conflict resurfaces again.  [How would the following 5 questions best describe your marriage?• Who usually has to initiate any reconciliation? You or your mate?• How long does it normally take to make-up: Minutes, hours, days or sometimes longer?• How do you normally resolve the conflict? Do you give-in, walk away or talk it out?• How do you reassure each other that it will not happen again? Do you or your mate promise to change, compromise or don’t even go there?• What is you mate’s first response to conflict? Do they withdraw, argue or pray?As a Believer, consider Col. 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

The spiritual solution, for the Believer is to walk in the filling ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 5:18)

(Gal. 5:16) (the protocol) "But I say, walk by means of the Spirit, (the promise) "and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”

This spiritual solution should be applied as soon as you see the storm of marital conflict coming as well as when engaged in it.  Most Christian couples, I counsel don’t attempt to apply this spiritual solution until their marital conflict has brought them to the very end of their marital relationship!  They should be walking, through their marital conflicts by means of the Holy Spirit rather than "in their flesh (OSN). (James 4:1-3).

Walking "by means of" the Spirit should produce a desire to be Christ-like more than right and a desire to place the divine institution of marriage above personal interests (Eph. 5:22-33; Rom. 15:1-4).

Strategies for improving communications

 Let me suggest four ways to improve communications that will help in resolving marital conflict.

• Listen, without interrupting in word or in thought and talk without attacking. (Prov. 12:15).  Resolving conflicts consists of 70% listening and 30% talking (Eccl. 3:7; James 1:19-20)  Avoid these three things: dominating the conversation, interrupting or speaking simultaneously, using declaratives and giving ultimatums (Prov. 29:20).

• Unresolved past conflicts are the smoldering coals of future poor communications resulting in more flare-ups.  The wife who says, “he never listens” and the husband who says “she nags and complains all the time” are describing poor communications (Prov. 17:13).

It is important to listen to hear and understand what your mate is actually saying and meaning in order to decide how you can work with your mate to resolve it! “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29; Prov. 21:23)

• Stop talking in emotional riddles and verbal codes that only skirt around the issues.  Psychologists describe it as subrogation.  Substituting one thing for another without telling what it means.  For example: The husband simply "asks his wife" to pass the salt.  She explodes, “that’s all I’m good for around here!" "Do this and do that and I’m sick of it!”  Is she actually having a problem with "passing the salt"?  Or is she attacking her husband in order to wake him up: about something that she "asked of him" previously?  Perhaps she's frustrated with some other issue in their marriage?  (Prov. 12:18; 27:5)

• Use interrogatives, in your communications when attempting to resolve marital conflict.  Here is an example to the "pass the salt" conflict (the wife says "what about what I want"?).  The husband could respond by saying: “Honey, what do you want?  I'm willing to listen now and it will be okay because I want us to talk through this, pray about it and get it resolved." (Prov. 16:23-24). “The wise in heart will be called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” (Prov. 16:21).

Unfortunately, marriage counselors report that 75% of marital conflicts are never sufficiently resolved.

Biblical examples of communication resulting in conflict

Adam and Eve’s marriage is another example of poor communications and unresolved marital conflict in a spiritual family that resulted in painful consequences.

(Gen. 3)  Eve began to spend a lot of time with someone else, who had gained her trust as spiritual teacher in place of her husband and pastor-teacher, of the Garden of Eden Church.  This new spiritual partner began to challenge the spiritual truth believed by her husband and pastor-teacher (1 Tim. 2:14).

• Why wasn’t she talking to her husband and pastor about it? She apparently wasn’t talking or confiding in her husband about these different spiritual views.

• Why was Adam absent and oblivious to what was happening under his nose?

• Why did Adam listen and obey his wife when she gave him the forbidden fruit to eat? (Prov. 7:21-23)

• Why did Adam try to pass off his responsibility by blame? (Gen. 3:12; Prov. 8:32-36)

The marriage of Hannah and Elkanah is our final example of poor communications and unresolved marital conflict in a spiritual family that resulted in pain but got resolved in the end.

(1 Sam. 1:1-20) Elkanah demonstrated his love like so many husbands by giving his wife everything except the one thing she wanted the most (1 Sam. 1:5, 8, 19).  However, what she wanted the most only God could give her (1 Sam. 1:5, 19-20).  She became depressed, wept bitterly, and wouldn’t eat out of great grief (1 Sam. 1:7, 8, 10, 15, 16). “In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20)

Pay special attention to the "role prayer played" in resolving this marital conflict. “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (1 Sam. 1:15; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 Cor. 7:5-6; 1 John 5:14-15)

Good communication with the Lord is essential when there is poor communication with your mate. “So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (1 Sam. 1:18; James 5:13-18)

Series on Marriage: Pastor Ron Adema
audio 1
audio 2
audio 3
audio 4

Marriage Conference 2014: Associate Pastor, Al Rosenblum
session 1, notes
session 2, notes
session 3, notes

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The Wife's Role in Marriage

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Marital Copulation

By Ron Adema,  Pastor of Doctrinal Studies Bible Church