There are three phases of a conflict that we learn of from Song of Solomon 5-7. In this post we’ll look at phase two.
Phase #2: From Retaliation to Regret (5:4-8)
Song of Solomon 5:6, “I opened to my lover, but he was gone! My heart sank…” Here we read of the inevitable consequence of being selfish, assuming the worst and retaliating. We regret it. The Shulamite here regrets that she assumed the worst, regrets that she acted selfishly, regrets spurning her husband’s advances. This is exactly how you and I will feel if act the same way.
So having covered THE 4 SOURCES OF CONFLICT in my previous post, let me now cover THE 3 SINS OF CONFLICT – three things you will definitely regret doing in a conflict.
- Getting Hysterical (Proverbs 29:11). Proverbs 29:11 says “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Some people have a short fuse and when conflict ensues, they quickly blow up like a stick of dynamite. Others let their anger build up gradually, but then like a teapot needing to vent steam, they start whistling. God says both are wrong. We should never be uncontrolled, letting our anger get the better of us. Why? Because as James 1:20 puts it “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”// Now – If you ever feel you’re about to get out of control, it’s best to call a time out. Solomon walked away from the situation for a bit, where he found some perspective and cooled off a bit. When he next saw his wife, he was prepared to have an amicable conversation. So if things are escalating, escalating, escalating – call a time out. Remove yourself physically from the situation for an hour or two. Hitting pause is better than hitting each other. If you want to avoid conflict, avoid getting hysterical.
- Getting Historical (1 Corinthians 13:5). One guy once told me: My wife doesn’t get hysterical, she gets historical. That is, she brings up everything bad thing I’ve ever done every time we fight – even things that happened years ago! You will always regret getting historical. Why? Because you’re not perfect either and your spouse will take your getting historical as an invite to do the same. That’s when you’ll be reminded that you haven’t been perfect either. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says of love “…it keeps no record of wrongs.” If you want to avoid conflict, don’t ever, ever, ever bring up some issue that’s already been resolved. Micah 7:19 says that God throws our forgiven sins into the bottom of the ocean. The idea is that they sink to the bottom, never to surface again. It’s not that God forgets our sins – he just chooses to never bring them up again – never use them against us – he just forgives and that’s the end of that. When in conflict we’re going to be tempted to act like the devil (by being accusatory – Revelation 12:10 Satan is “the accuser”), but we’d be wiser to act like God (not bringing up someone’s past shortcomings). If you want to avoid conflict, avoid getting historical.
- Getting Hurtful (Song of Solomon 5:3,6). We intuitively know how to hurt our spouse, don’t we? Men know that women have a deep rooted, God-given need for emotional intimacy, which comes through talking. So when a man wants to hurt his wife, he gives her the silent treatment – as Solomon did to the shulamite. In the same way, women know that men have a deep rooted, God-given need for physical intimacy. And when a woman wants to hurt her husband she withholds sex – as the Shulamite did with Solomon. Maybe it’s happened, but I’ve never heard of a wife trying to punish her husband by withholding emotional intimacy (refusing to talk to him). Ladies – don’t try that. He might be able to go for years and be just fine. Likewise, I’ve never heard of a husband trying to punish his wife by withholding sex. Guys – I wouldn’t advise you to try this approach! Women are like camels. They only need a drink here and there. Guys on the other hand, need a drink every three days or else they die! 🙂 But here’s the point: In this passage both the Shulamite and Solomon have felt resentful and so they retaliated. They felt hurt, so they hurt each other. And it led to regret. // Husbands – we have to be more careful with what we say than our wives do. Our wives could say the meanest thing ever and we probably won’t be able to remember what it was a week or so later. On the other hand – women can remember even something mildly disparaging for the rest of their lives (in incredible detail)! Remember what you did on April 4, 1971 at 7:23pm. You had that red sweater on…You get the idea 🙂 If you want to avoid conflict, avoid getting hurtful.
Ok. In phase #2 the couple went from retaliation to regret. They did things and said things and communicated things they instantly regretted.