How to Respond with Grace in Marriage
Dr. Paul Chappell, Author of the Marriage Guide ‘Are We There Yet?’ Writes That Water Is Like Humility and Pride Is Like Gasoline When It Comes to the Fires of Marital Conflict
LOS ANGELES—Most couples, no matter how long they’ve been married, will provide one solid truth to those considering an upcoming union: “Marriage takes work.”
Dr. Paul Chappell and his wife of 37 years, Terrie, agree. Couples don’t just happen upon successful marriages by chance or luck. Over the years, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment by both parties. The Chappells talk about their own marriage experiences and travel-theme anecdotes in their recently released book, “Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples.”
Whether newlyweds or married for decades, husbands and wives will find truth in “Are We There Yet?” that will help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs, grow as a couple and even shed some baggage along the way. With chapter titles such as “Paying with Foreign Currency,” “Traveling Light,” “Roadblocks” and “Booking a Room,” “Are We There Yet?” explores topics from needs and forgiveness to conflict and intimacy.
Dr. Chappell recently authored a new commentary for The Christian Post about responding with grace in marriage, giving couples biblical advice about how to humble themselves before the Lord—just the opposite of the world’s natural response to conflict, which is to allow pride to rise up in some form of self-protection or vindication.
“Perhaps no area of our lives reveals our walk with the Lord like relational conflict,” Chappell wrote. “It is in these moments that our raw responses reveal the true depth of our development in Christlikeness. A spiritual Christian will take what seems like a large matter and make it smaller by responding properly. A carnal Christian takes what could remain a small matter and makes it larger.
“Another way to think of this is to pretend that everywhere you go you carry with you two buckets—one filled with gasoline and the other filled with water,” he continued. “The instances of conflict in your relationship are fires. Some are small fires, just a little spark. Some are large fires, threatening to destroy the relationship. Even a small fire will become large when gasoline is poured on it. And even a large fire can be put out when water is poured on it. Ineffective responses are like gasoline, while spiritual, grace-filled responses are like water.”
The good news, Chappell added, is that God freely gives us His grace—the God-given desire and ability to please God.
“You can’t control your spouse, and you often can’t control sources of conflict,” Chappell said. “But you can control your responses. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be a lifelong war. It can simply be a roadblock where two people, both filled with grace, work to navigate around it together.”
The commentary is timely with the observation of National Marriage Week set for Feb. 7-14. The campaign aims to strengthen marriages, reduce the divorce rate and build a culture that fosters strong marriages.
Read more about Lancaster Baptist Church, West Coast Baptist College, “Are We There Yet?” and the Chappells here. For more information on Dr. Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church, visit paulchappell.com or www.lancasterbaptist.org, or connect via social media on Facebook, Twitter or the church’s YouTube or Vimeo.