10 Christian Marriage Rules for Handling Conflict

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

If a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife submits to her husband out of reverence to Christ…why do we need marriage rules for handling conflict? Perhaps because we still battle our sinful nature, the pull of the world, and temptations from Satan even in Christian marriages.

We can love the Lord and still have conflict. Yet we need to be wise in our disagreements so that we don’t destroy each other with cruel words or actions. Always keep in mind the goal in conflict (especially for Christian marriages) is restoration. Follow these 10 rules to keep your marriage healthy even in conflict.

Rule #1) Be Open

“There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

During times of conflict, it’s tempting to be closed-minded believing that you are always right. Be open to the idea of negotiation and working together on a solution rather than being obstinately committed to having your own way. Openness allows the Holy Spirit to work on both hearts towards an agreement.

Rule #2) Be Selfless

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels” (Proverbs 18:1).

Most conflicts begin with couples seeking to get their own way. The most selfless act comes out of a willingness to actively listen to your spouse’s concerns without the worry of losing an argument. Practice at least one selfless act for your husband or wife every day to help you continue to do so in conflict.

Rule #3) Be Forgiving

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Marital conflict is the perfect breeding ground for fault finding. No one knows you better than your spouse—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Choosing forgiveness rather than allowing bitterness to take root will bring blessed longevity to your marriage and keep intense conflicts to a minimum.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”

Rule #4) Be Loving

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Love is never more evident when you show it in action during a conflict. The agape (unconditional) love of God revealed through you can penetrate through the worst disagreements. Showing love disarms an unrepentant and stubborn heart to submit to God’s conviction.

Rule #5) Be Wise

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3).

Wisdom is the application of knowledge from the word of God. When husbands and wives seek God’s wisdom in a conflict, there’s renewed hope for restoration. The Lord generously pours out what needs to be said and what needs to remain unspoken.

Rule #6) Be Gentle

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Harsh words and attitudes build up anger on both sides. Gentleness demonstrated in posture and language makes your spouse feel safe. Safety brings out openness, honesty, and transparency because there isn’t fear of retribution.

Rule #7) Be Honest

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Proverbs 24:26).

Sometimes sharing truth is difficult because it may stir up conflict or anger. However truth spoken in love can bring the healing necessary for a relationship to grow deeper. The Holy Spirit will always prompt you towards giving an honest answer.

Rule #8) Be Transparent

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

Be careful of hidden agendas. No one likes the feeling of being manipulated in a disagreement. Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit and He will reveal your true heart motive during a conflict. Your transparency gives evidence of godly character because you have nothing to hide.

Rule #9) Be Brief

“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” (Proverbs 10:19).

Talking endlessly without giving your partner an opportunity to communicate fuels frustration in conflict. Be mindful of sticking to the main issue rather than diverting to unimportant irritations. Self-control is integral for couples to share their concerns equally.

Rule #10) Be Humble

“Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Your spouse is the easiest target for misplaced anger and frustration. When you humbly allow your spouse’s best interest to take first place, there’s grace from God to work things out. A humble husband or wife reveals the true nature of a reborn spirit during times of controversy.

Be Like Christ…

You are Christ’s ambassador first in your marriage and then everywhere else. Your good or bad behavior in conflict unveils the depth of your relationship with Jesus Christ. There will be countless opportunities for you to deny yourself and take up your cross. It may be difficult at times to deal with conflict, but the Holy Spirit will guide and instruct you in the right way. You are most like Christ when your attitude mirrors His sacrificial love and grace towards your spouse especially in disagreements.

Take a look at this related article:

7 Steps to Forgiveness in a Christian Marriage

Resources – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

David August 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Very good


Crystal McDowell August 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Thanks David! To God be the glory…


Heather August 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

You wrote this for me right! Perfect timing crystal!!


Crystal McDowell August 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thanks Heather! God knows what we need when we need it.

God bless,


Emily August 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

Thanks for sharing this, Crystal.


Crystal McDowell August 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Dear Emily, I appreciate you reading this article.

God bless,


Mac August 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Awesome article Crystal!!! Thanks for sharing what God placed on your heart.


Crystal McDowell August 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Thanks Marshall…compliments from you on this topic means a great deal!

Love ya,


Jackie August 21, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thank You Crystal, I am going through difficult time with my marriage. I really need help, but for the time being I have to thank you for this site. God bless


Crystal McDowell August 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

Dearest Jackie, may the Lord strengthen your heart with wisdom and grace as you work through this tough season. Amen.


Lawrence August 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thats powerful indeed.


Crystal McDowell August 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

Yes Lawrence. Our God is all-powerful. Amen!


Sung August 24, 2013 at 7:34 am

Hi Sister Crystal,

Thank you so much for writing this. I was in a huge fight with my wife this week and this article really opened my eyes to the fact that she is a daughter of God. By the way, my daughter’s name is like yours but spelled Christall. We spelled it that way to remind her everytime she signs her name that (Christ) is (all) things in her life. Be blessed and thanks again!


Crystal McDowell August 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

Dear Sung, my heart rejoices in the Spirit that you’ve been blessed with the awakening knowledge of your precious wife. There’s so much you both can accomplish in Christ together. I pray the Lord’s blessing over you and Christall (lovely name!).



Njoroge F K August 24, 2013 at 7:41 am

A good piece which can also be used in resolving conflict amongst siblings, family members and brethren.


Crystal McDowell August 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

You’re right Nijoroge. The Word of God is so complete that we can draw wisdom in conflict with all relationships. God bless!


MILTON OKELLO EBEK August 24, 2013 at 9:35 am

Hi sister .Endurance is the key towards this weapon .May God Bless you.


Crystal McDowell August 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

Yes Milton…may we all endure in the likeness of Christ when dealing with conflict. It’s an awesome experience to leave the fragrance of Christ in all situations.

God bless you.


Jack Wellman August 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Just looking at all the comments Crystal and seeing how much you are helping others to strengthen their marriages is concrete evidence of your being such a blessing to so many and to the readers, as well as your fellow writers here. We are praying for your continued blessing and I truly thank God for you my sister in Christ. You are displaying the gifts of the Spirit so strongly, like teaching, mercy, edification, and more that space won’t allow. Thank you.


Crystal McDowell September 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I need much prayer everyday…it’s appreciated more than you’ll ever know. God bless you, Jack!


Bruno August 29, 2013 at 2:00 am

Wonderful Post, But i need a little help here… I am just 19 will be 20 next month. I am not Married but i have this Girl and we both Like each other conflicts keep happenning and never is it running smoothly.. The main problem is… I Love her.. But… at the same time at times in the Past i hae had really Bad Lustful Thoughts about her and sometimes even today such thoughts come to my mind i donno how do i fight it.. nor do i know should i share this with her or what.. its really messing up with my Mind…
I also struggle from the Sins of Masturbation and Pornography.. Please Help me With your gift of Wisdom…
Thank you.


Crystal McDowell September 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Dear Bruno, you are not alone in the struggle. Many other people struggle in the area as well. I would strongly advise you to seek counsel from an mature man who can help you and hold you accountable to overcome these strongholds. Also begin to meditate everyday on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 to begin the process of tearing down harmful thoughts. Remember “greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world” God’s power is greater than your sin and you must deal with it until it loses its stronghold on your mind and body. I pray that you will live a life free from sin so that you can be useful to the building up of the body of Christ. Be strong in the Lord. God bless, Crystal


Tahiru Titus October 23, 2019 at 6:01 am

This article is encouraging,it will help in changing life.I prayed God to give you more grace to purge ahead.


HENG STEVEN December 21, 2020 at 5:42 am

Hi Crystal,

I’ve a 12years old and my wife told me she wants a divorce because I told her not to raise her voice when talking to us and be pro active like answering to the door when the door is knocked. She called me idiot and asked me go and die for such trival matters. I just asked her to be pro active as we had planned to stop the maid service. What can I do?

I feel ashamed talking about this


Jack Wellman December 21, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Hello Heng. I do not believe Crystal is available anymore, so I will try my best to answer, not only as a pastor, but as a father and grandfather. As for your wife raising her voice, I don’t believe that is the real reason she wants a divorce. That’s not strong enough reason to divorce someone. Is your wife a Christian? Was there a time where she ever repented and trusted in Christ and is now with you in a local church in the Body of Christ? Unless this woman is saved, she will act like an unsaved person and that is, like we once were self-centered. You cannot change your wife. You can only change how you react to her. Is she is not saved, pray for her to be saved. If she is saved, she may be a false convert because no woman with the Spirit of God living in them wants to divorce over you telling her something. If she’s not saved, pray for her to be, and don’t give her what she deserves, but what she needs (your patience and love) as God did to us thru Christ who were undeserving (Rom 5:6-10).


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