Category: Conflict

An Autumn Check-Up

How about a little Autumn check-up? Has it been a good year for you so far? Some of you would say, “Well financially, it hasn’t been a good year.” Others would say, “When it comes to my health, no, it hasn’t been a good year.” Unfortunately, many would say, “For my marriage, it hasn’t been a good year.” Some things are beyond our control. That’s true in the area of finances, health, and relationships. But always we choose our attitude. Will we curse the darkness or will we light a candle? Will we trust God, or rail out in anger? Why not decide to finish this year trusting God, and asking Him for wisdom in how you can best respond to your present situation. Life with God is always better than traveling alone.

Selfishness is the Problem

Do you have a conflict that you have not been able to solve in your marriage? May I make a suggestion? Why not write out all the possible solutions that you can think of. Ask your spouse to do the same. Then sit down and compare your lists. Perhaps in at least one of the solutions, you both agree. Why not try it and see if it works. Conflicts are going to always arise because of one simple reality. We are human. Humans don’t always have the same thoughts and feelings. Conflicts are not the problem. Selfishness is the problem. When I insist that my way is the only ‘right’ way, I’m condemning my spouse. Condemnation does not lead to a good marriage.

The Attitude of Listening

When two people are talking at the same time, no one is listening. Consequently, there is no communication. For conversation to be meaningful, it requires talking and listening. How hard can that be? Yet, 87% of those who divorce say their main problem was that they could not communicate. Listening begins with an attitude. If I choose to believe that every person I encounter is made in God’s image; that their thoughts and feelings are important, than I am prepared to listen. If I think the world revolves around me; that my ideas are all that counts, then why should I listen to anyone else? Many couples don’t have a communication problem, they have an attitude problem.

Do You Know how to Apologize?

Do you know how to apologize? Chances are you do what your parents taught you, but that may not be enough. Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I discovered that people have different ideas on what it means to apologize. In fact, there are five languages of apology. If you don’t speak the right language, you are not likely to have a favorable response. If you aren’t sure how to apologize, consider saying this: “I value our relationship. What do I need to do or say in order for you to consider forgiving me?” Their answer will reveal their ‘primary apology language.’ Express your apology in that language and you will likely receive forgiveness.

Appropriate Age Difference in Marriage

Q: Gary, what are appropriate age differences in marriage?

Gary: It all depends on if you’re thinking of a 16-year-old marrying a 30-year-old, or whether you’re talking about a 30-year-old marrying a 50-year-old. The question is much more important in the early years of life. The differences between people are colossal in those years. After 30, 35, 40, the differences are not as important or prevalent. So, while I don’t think there’s any arbitrary answer to this question, I would say that I think you set yourself up for problems if you’re 16 and marrying someone whose 30.

Essentials for Healthy Relationships

Do you have a relationship that is presently broken or fractured? What would it take to heal the relationship? I’d like to suggest two essentials: apologizing and forgiving. When we have hurt someone, it is time to apologize. Don’t let your pride keep you from admitting that you were wrong. When someone has hurt you, it is time to confront. Jesus said that if someone sins against you, then you should tell them, and seek reconciliation. Don’t let fear keep you from confronting the person who has hurt you. Healthy relationships must be authentic. You cannot suffere in silence and hope things will workout. Apologizing and forgiving are two essentials for healthy relationships.

Understanding the value of apologizing.

I was giving a lecture on the five love languages of apology. At the break, a man approached me and said: “For the first time in my life, I understand the value of apologizing. My father’s philosophy was that ‘apologizing gets you nowhere. Do the best you can and never look back.’ That’s pretty much the way I lived until my wife committed adultery.” “So, what would it take for you to forgive her?” I asked. “I want her to admit that what she did was wrong and to promise me that she will never do it again. If I knew that she would never do it again, I think I could forgive her.” This husband was demonstrating the necessity of apologies. There are no healthy marriages without apologies and forgiveness.

Q&A: Husbands That Don’t Want to Talk

Q: Gary, my new husband doesn’t want to talk and just wants to be with his friends. How do I show him that it’s not too late to start over?

 

Gary: It sounds like he’s withdrawing from the relationship and there must be a reason for that. Either in his efforts to talk he has felt put down by you and consequently doesn’t want to talk. On the other hand, I’m wondering, if he wants spend all of his time with his friends, why did he get married? So I think I would ask him, “Can you help me understand why you don’t want to spend time with me?” There has to be a reason. I don’t know what it is, but something is going on if a newly married husband doesn’t want to spend time with his wife.

Q&A: Love Languages and Dating

Q: Gary, should I be concerned if my boyfriend refuses to take the Love Languages quiz? How can I determine what his language is?

If someone refuses to take a positive step in helping the relationship, yes, it’s a red flag waving because they’re not likely to be open to other things you request. In answering your second question, you determine his love language by asking yourself, How does he respond to others?” Observe his behavior. Is he giving pats on the back, is he giving words of affirmation, does he spend time talking to people? The second question is what does he complain about? The complaint reveals his love language. And then, what does he request of you most often? That also reveals his love language. So you can determine his love language even if he won’t take the quiz. But don’t overlook the fact that he’s refusing to do something you’re requesting.

Q&A: Is it Possible to be Forgiven?

Q: Gary, my spouse is having a hard time forgiving me after years for hurtful depression from me. Is it possible to be forgiven?

Gary: Forgiveness is always a possibility, but so is resentment. The biblical pattern, though, is always to forgive. When people express to us an apology for a pain they caused us, we must be ready to forgive. That’s the model of God, and that’s to be our model. On the other hand, we can’t demand forgiveness. We can’t make our spouse forgive us. You can say, “Honey, I understand and I see how difficult it may be for you to forgive me with all the pain I’ve caused you through the years, but I hope you do forgive me because I want to have a good life with you in the future.”

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