It’s not unusual to hear people say, “I hate confrontation.” Many will do everything they can to avoid it at all costs. That’s especially true for couples. What’s behind this avoidance?
The reality is, confrontation requires us to face issues — often about our behavior — with which we’d rather not deal. It’s not comfortable. It’s difficult, especially when we recognize truth from the confronter.
But if we don’t face the issues, we welcome division into our life. While letting it go may seem more peaceful, it comes at a price: What we accept becomes our culture. Failing to confront is failure to love.
Failing to confront is failure to love.
The enemy tries to divide us as a couple. The fruit in the garden led to division; Adam immediately blamed Eve. So when we stand together, we are powerful. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19,ESV). Our unity is a threat to the powers and principalities that are set against us (see Ephesians 6:12).
There are different outcomes to confrontation. One of the outcomes is from the worldview that creates a winner and a loser in every argument. This winner/loser approach chips away at the love relationship between husbands and wives. If you must win at all costs, before long you realize you are married to a “loser.” The enemy begins to whisper and highlight other behaviors that confirm this lie. This is in total contradiction to what God says about us.
God’s Word makes clear what he thinks of confrontation. John 21:15-17 tells us the story of Jesus confronting Peter after the crucifixion. Peter, having denied him three times, had returned — shame-filled and guilt ridden — to fishing, and had taken others with him. Jesus confronts Peter by asking him three times, “Do you love me?” By the third time Christ inquires, Peter’s response shows signs of grief and frustration.
What was the point? What was Jesus after? Was it to lead Peter to a point of repentance, or was it something else? Christ’s goal was love. In confrontation, he wanted Peter to know in his heart that Jesus loved him and was asking to restore connection to him.
Connection is the goal of confrontation. Love is the language of connection.
If we can see confrontation as a positive opportunity in our lives as a couple, it changes both the process and the outcome of conflict. Are you willing to avoid confrontation with your spouse and sacrifice connection? Or are you willing to see it as a tool to walk together in the power of agreement?
Ron DeArmond has served in ministry positions with Christian Men’s Network and Faithful Men Ministry and has ministered internationally, teaching men’s curriculum. He is currently the director of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/DFW. Ron and his wife, Deb, have been married for more than 40 years. Together they wrote, Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight.