By Dr. Harold Sala

The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12

Moses didn’t elaborate, but reading between the lines, I am confident that the first argument between a husband and wife took place in the Garden of Eden over the issue of who was to blame for being driven out of the Garden. Remember? Adam made his defense before God, saying, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  In other words, “God, it was your idea to put her here. She’s the one who took the fruit and gave it to me. All I did is eat it.”

Do you ever wonder why two people who love each other, who were drawn to each other because of the wonderful qualities in each other’s life and personality, end up fighting with each other, saying things which are intended to be harsh and painful? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

While it doesn’t justify doing it, there are some reasons, and understanding why we do these things helps us be strong enough NOT to do them.

May I say it again, “Conflict never destroys relationships; it is your refusal to resolve it that destroys them.”

Issue #1: Who is to blame? “If you hadn’t parked the car so close to the garage wall, I wouldn’t have scraped the side of the car.”  Or “If you made more money, I wouldn’t constantly overdraw the checking account.” Sometimes individuals who have grown up with stern, repressive parents find themselves dodging responsibility because they have had to do it all their lives. At some point, it doesn’t matter who is to blame. Just work on solving the problem or conflict. My wife and I have approached minor disasters with humor, saying, “I did it on purpose!” Of course, you scraped the side of the car on purpose. You dropped your mother’s best tea cup on purpose. OK, if it happens, it happens. Don’t waste energy blaming another.


Issue #2: Control. This is the ego-power struggle. “Ted and I have been married for five years and he’s never questioned how I spend money, but now if I’m a little over our budget, he gets furious with me,” says one woman. Ted’s real problem is that he didn’t get a promotion and he wants his wife to get a job. She’s a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t want to work.

Control usually involves money–who controls the purse strings–but it may involve your time, the amount of your phone bill, and where you spend holidays. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” asks Amos 3:3, and the answer remains unchanged.

Respecting each other, giving each other enough slack to be his own person, is part of what it takes to make marriages work.

Issue #3: Crises. Life is full of challenges, but often those challenges destroy marriages because instead of confronting the crisis, couples blame each other. Example: More than 90% of marriages fail when a child is critically injured. Stress from the crisis can destroy you.

Issue #4: Male-female gender battles.  A woman who earns more, is more intelligent than her husband, or has better connections often is a threat to her husband’s ego.

Well, frankly, there are far more issues that cause conflict than I can lump together in a few categories and discuss in four minutes. But here’s the bottom line: God would have had a cruel sense of humor to think up the whole concept of marriage and togetherness, knowing there would be conflicts, unless He also had a will regarding how we resolve those issues.

May I say it again, “Conflict never destroys relationships; it is your refusal to resolve it that destroys them.” Winning the argument is never as important as defusing it.  Remember that the next time you have an argument.

Resource reading: Genesis 3