Conflict can often play a positive role in marriage—especially when it helps maintain lines of respect. Suppose I (jcd) work at my office two hours later than usual on a particular night. I know that Shirley is preparing a candlelight dinner, yet I don’t call to let her know I’ll be late. As the evening wears on, Shirley wraps the cold food in foil and puts it in the refrigerator. When I finally get home, I don’t apologize. Instead, I sit down with the newspaper and abruptly tell Shirley to get my dinner ready. You can bet there would be fireworks in the Dobson household that night! Shirley would rightfully interpret my insensitive behavior as insulting and would move to defend the “line of respect” between us. Her strong feelings would be totally justified.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose Shirley knows I need the car at 2:00 P.M. for some important purpose, but she deliberately keeps me waiting. Perhaps she sits in a restaurant with a friend, drinking coffee and talking. Meanwhile, I’m pacing the floor at home wondering where she is. It is very likely that she will hear about my dissatisfaction when she gets home. Even though the offense was minor, the line of respect has been violated.
Some things are worth defending. At the top of the list is the “line of respect” between husbands and wives.
Just between us…
When was the last time we had a fight that was good for our relationship?
Have I crossed your line of respect recently?
How will upholding the line of respect improve our marriage?
Dear Lord, we want to show respect for each other, but we confess that we’re too often self-centered and insensitive. Forgive us, Lord. Grant us Your grace as we defend the mutual rights that are the foundation of our affection. Amen.