Category: Conflict

Recognizing Communication Issues

Have you ever accused your spouse of something they didn’t do? I once accused my wife of miss-placing my briefcase, when in fact, I left it at my office. What do you do about false accusations? Ignore them and hope your spouse will forget? Not if you want a loving marriage. Every time you ignore a harsh word, it sits as an emotional barrier between the two of you.

Love removes the barriers. So, I called my wife and said, “I found my briefcase.” She didn’t say anything. She knew there ought to be more to it than that. So, I said, “I’m sorry for the way I talked to you. It was wrong. Will you forgive me.” She said, “I thought you’d call.” We’re committed to removing the barriers.

How Do You Nurture Love?

Many couples are at a stalemate because they have allowed a wall to develop between them. Walls are erected one block at a time. It may be as small as failing to take out the garbage or as large as failing to meet sexual needs. Instead of dealing with the failure, we ignore it. The wall becomes high and thick. We were once “in love” but now only resentment remains.

There is only one way to remove a wall. We must tear down the blocks on our side. Someone must take the initiative. Will your spouse forgive you? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. Confess your past failures and ask God to help you make the future different.  The wall is not as thick when you remove the blocks on your side.

Where Am I Failing?

When I counsel couples, I sometimes ask them to write for me the things they dislike about their spouse. You should see the lists. Some have to request additional paper. A bit later, I ask them to list for me what they consider to be their own weaknesses.  Usually, they can think of one right away, but I’ve seen them think and think trying to come up with number two. The message is clear. “I’m not perfect, but the real problem is with my spouse.”

Jesus had a different approach. He said, “First, get the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see more clearly how to get the speck out of the eye of your spouse.” A more loving marriage begins when you pray this prayer: “Lord, where am I failing in my marriage.” It’s a prayer He will answer.

Q&A: I’m tired of always cleaning up after my messy husband. What can I do to change this?

There are two approaches: You can either try to change him or change yourself. It is not life threatening for his clothes to lie around the house. I know you’re organized and that it hurts you when things are not in their place. However, you can work on yourself in accepting a little more messiness.

The other approach is to say to him, “I think I’m being a good wife to you. If I’m not, I certainly want you to give me ideas on how I can be a better wife to you. One thing that would really help me would be…” Then you tell him specifically what you would like for him to do. I’m not saying he’ll do it but when you express the desire to be a better wife, it gives him hope that things might get better on your side and he might be willing to give more on his side.

Q&A: I've been approached inappropriately by a co-worker. What do I do?

Q: Several times I’ve been approached inappropriately by a co-worker. I can’t loose my job but I don’t know how to handle it. Can you help?

A: You won’t lose your job but they may lose their job. You should not allow inappropriate sexual behavior to continue. If they are inappropriately talking and touching you, they will also do that to other people. It should not be allowed in the work place and there are very strict laws regarding this. The first step is to talk with your supervisor. Put in writing, date it, and give specific times and dates on which inappropriate behavior has taken place, as well as what the inappropriate behavior is. This is the responsible thing to do.

Is There Ever a Time to Stop Loving Your Spouse?

A lady once asked me that question. She then said, “My husband physically and verbally abused me for eight years. He refused to work. I supported the family for 7 years. Then I got sick. Even then, he refused to get a job. I just got tired of it, so I left him. Was I wrong to stop loving him?”

“I’m not sure you stopped loving him,” I said. “This may be the best loving you have ever done. He may even get a job.” “Oh, he’s already promised me that he will get a job and be kind to me if I come back.” “Then let’s see if he follows through,” I said. “If he does, and is willing to get counseling, you can rebuild your marriage.” Sometimes it is tough love that brings a spouse to genuine repentance.

We Hurt Ourselves and Others When We Disobey God

In a marriage, sinful behavior will fracture the relationship. What are we to do when a spouse persists in destructive behavior? In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus teaches three levels of confrontation. Tell the spouse how their behavior is affecting you. Request change.

If they don’t respond, then take someone with you and confront them again. If this does not produce repentance, then share the problem with church leadership. If the church leaders confront your spouse and there is still no turning around, then Jesus said, they are to be treated as an unbeliever, not as a brother. This calls for tough love, tough love is the only kind of love that some people understand.

 

Q&A: My fiancé and I fight daily. What should we do?

Question: My fiancé and I have been fighting daily, it’s beginning to worry me. Is this going to be a problem in our marriage?

Answer: All couples have conflicts. But arguing with raised voices and harsh words is not the way to solve conflicts. In my book: Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, I have a chapter entitled “I Wish I’d Known How to Solve Conflict Without Arguing.” I believe it is essential to a healthy marriage. The key is to listen with empathy. Most of us have no training on how to listen. We listen only long enough to reload our guns and shoot back with our ideas.

Go for premarital counseling and put this issue on the table. Learn how to listen, how to respect each other’s ideas and how to find a meeting place. Don’t get married until you learn these skills.

Q&A: My fiancé and I fight daily. What should we do?

Question: My fiancé and I have been fighting daily, it’s beginning to worry me. Is this going to be a problem in our marriage?

Answer: All couples have conflicts. But arguing with raised voices and harsh words is not the way to solve conflicts. In my book: Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, I have a chapter entitled “I Wish I’d Known How to Solve Conflict Without Arguing.” I believe it is essential to a healthy marriage. The key is to listen with empathy. Most of us have no training on how to listen. We listen only long enough to reload our guns and shoot back with our ideas.

Go for premarital counseling and put this issue on the table. Learn how to listen, how to respect each other’s ideas and how to find a meeting place. Don’t get married until you learn these skills.

Q&A: What should I do if my husband wants a divorce?

Question: We haven’t even been married 2 years yet and my husband is telling his friends he wants a divorce after every fight. Do you think he means it? What should I do?

Answer: Yes, the thought of divorce is in his mind. No one likes conflicts that end in ‘fights’ or ‘arguments’. When things don’t get resolved, we begin to think: “Oh no, I married the wrong person.” Then follows the thoughts of divorce. Of course, divorce is not the answer. The answer is in learning how to resolve conflicts. All couples have conflicts. Some couples learn how to listen with a view to understanding each other, then looking for a solution.

Other couples approach every conflict as an argument. They focus on winning the argument instead of solving the problem. In my book, Happily Ever After, I have a section on Solving Conflicts Without Arguing. I suggest you read it and discuss it together. If he is unwilling, then make an appointment with a counselor and invite him to go with you. If he refuses, then go alone. Bottom line? Don’t ignore the problem. Seek help.

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