A couple was once having trouble in their marriage, and to make matters worse, the husband forgot their wedding anniversary. So his wife said, "I expect to find a gift in the driveway tomorrow morning that will go from zero to 200 in six seconds." The next day there was a little box with a bow on it in the driveway. Inside, the wife found a brand-new bathroom scale. Her husband hasn't been seen since.
Most marriages are marked by some amount of conflict. Even Song of Solomon, a poetic love song written by King Solomon, recounts a fight between him and his wife. Let's look at what this fight reveals about conflict resolution in marriage:
1. Conflict is normal. Song of Solomon 5:2-6 indicates that soon after their honeymoon, there was an unresolved conflict of some sort between Solomon and his wife. Solomon came home and tried to make a romantic advance toward his new bride, but the door was locked and she wasn't feeling it. When she finally got up to open the door, Solomon was gone.
When a couple gets married, things eventually settle into an accommodation phase, where you realize your spouse is not all that perfect, and conflict often happens. That's why it's helpful to realize that discord will come to every marriage, because we're all fallen and sinful.
2. Collaboration must be careful. Solomon's bride took their conflict public by taking to the streets of Jerusalem to look for her husband. But because she was walking the streets at night, the watchmen of the city assumed she was a prostitute and treated her badly (see v. 7). Then when she asked her friends for help finding Solomon, they basically said, "What makes him so special? Dump him" (see v. 9).
Here's the point: some couples today make the mistake of immediately involving other people like their parents or friends in their marital issues, but that can create problems. So be careful whom you involve in your disagreement and whom you counsel with to resolve a conflict (see Psalm 1:1).
3. Conciliation is essential. After hearing this bad counsel, Solomon's wife snapped out of it (see vv. 10-16). Chapter 6 sees Solomon return to their bed chamber (see v. 2) and the emotional distance between them gone as she proclaimed, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine" (v. 3; see also vv. 4-10).
That's reconciliation. They worked through their difficulties and walked through their differences, and love won the day. And that's the goal: not to win the fight, but to win the friend. Not to fight with each other, but to fight for each other. You might need the help of a godly counselor to do that, but some resolve has to be made.
Before we get married, we often have a picture of the perfect partner in our heads. But then we get married and discover our partner is far from perfect. At that point, we have the choice to either rip up that picture and accept the person, or rip up the person and hold onto that picture. My exhortation to you is to let the picture go. Accept the person. Bring resolution. And if you're going to fight, fight to win the relationship and maintain the marriage.