When I make reference to the silent treatment, I am not talking about an agreed-upon cooling-off period that may be needed after an emotional exchange. I am talking about giving your spouse the cold shoulder, a prolonged period of ignoring your spouse, giving one-word answers, or speaking short phrases in a disrespectful tone—in a word, pouting. We all recognize it. The silent treatment has no valid place in any marriage, especially a Christian one. Remember what Colossians 3:16–17 says: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Speak to your mate in a spiritually uplifting manner, and give no room for the devil to gain a foothold. That means not going to bed without speaking: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an
opportunity” (Eph. 4:26–27, NASB). Even if all you say before going to bed is that you will discuss the matter more respectfully in the morning, do it. To simply go to bed without speaking or making any attempt at resolution is to give place to the devil.
Think about this: Have you ever had something go wrong with someone at work on a Friday and had all weekend to think about it? By the time Monday rolled around, you had replayed in your mind a multitude of scenarios as to how this would play out. Maybe you heard something negative or said something negative and wondered how the first face-to- face was going to go, and all weekend long, your mind concocted all types of reasons for you to be angry. Then, when Monday finally came and you returned to work, the whole thing played out in a completely different manner. We have all been there in some form or another, letting our minds run away with us. What allows this to happen? The absence of dialogue.
Friends, going days without speaking to your mate is just flat-out disobedience to godly conflict resolution. Be angry, but do not sin with corrupt words or fighting over matters of opinion. Be angry, but do not sin by giving each other the silent treatment. In any conflict, be the first to offer a soft answer that will turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1). Don’t turn a minor altercation into a battle that makes you miss the plane to recovery. As Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Remember, though, peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is what you can have in the midst of conflict.
“What percentage of marital conflicts could be avoided?” you may ask. “One hundred percent!” I answer. What percentage will we actually avoid? That depends on you and me. The main problem is pride, the original sin. It was and continues to be Satan’s sin, and he easily afflicts us with the same. Pride is literally at the heart of every sin, so if we can eliminate pride, we can eliminate many of our problems. Even when we fail in this endeavor, we can still set the rules of combat into play and shorten the length of the battle.
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.