Our very entrance into a marriage crisis is often strewn with ambiguity: they want a pastor, but they don't.
—James D. Berkeley
Every once in a while I hear of a couple married dozens of years who "never quarreled once." I always wonder whether they're amnesiacs or liars.
Place two sentient people together in marriage, and conflict is bound to occur. In measured doses, conflict can be productive; it forces growth and change, compromise and resolution. It releases tensions constructively, rather than letting them build to dangerous levels.
But when does the normal jostling of any marriage relationship become a crisis? It depends on the individuals involved.
"Just as some people can handle more physical pain than others, some couples tolerate more marital discord. But a body can stand only so much pounding, and a couple can take only so much anger and quarreling," says Ed Smelser, a counselor at Fairhaven Ministries in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. "Tension is inevitable. Arguments are common. But ...1