Thursday, 26 May 2011

Hands Down

Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

Dennis Rainey sends out a blog entitled Moments for You. He recently sent one out entitled “Hands Down”. He went on to say:

In a classic Sunday comic strip from Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, Linus is eating a sandwich and Lucy is nearby as he begins to ponder. "Hands are fascinating things," he says. "I like my hands. I think I have nice hands. My hands seem to have a lot of character. These are hands which may someday accomplish great things. These are hands which may someday do marvelous works. They may build mighty bridges, or heal the sick, or hit home runs, or write soul-stirring novels. These are hands which may someday change the course of destiny!"

A moment of silence. Then Lucy's one-line reply: "They've got jelly on them."
John Gottman

Even as we laugh, we know that Lucy's comment is typical of the way she treats other people. And, unfortunately, it is also a picture of how you can treat your spouse. Rather than encouraging your spouse and building him or her up, you choose instead of be the voice of criticism and harsh reality.
Dr. John Gottman, a leading expert in sociological research, conducted a 10-year study to determine the types of communication -- both verbal and nonverbal -- that make it least likely for a marriage to survive and go the distance. The four critical elements he determined as being the most detrimental?
• Criticism -- nagging, deflating, picking at each other
• Contempt -- rolling your eyes, discounting the other's value
• Defensiveness -- refusing to hear the truth or to deal with self
• Stonewalling -- retreating, withdrawing, not saying anything
Do any of these behaviors characterize the way you treat your spouse? In order to minimize conflict in your home, you need to be supportive of each other by what you say and how you say it.
I can’t add much but “Amen!”

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Conflict Avoidance

If conflict avoidance was an Olympic event I would be a serious contender. So this topic is of particular interest to me. In one of his recent blogs, Mort Fertel shared his thoughts:

Sometimes couples report that they never fight, disagree, or argue. In fact, sometimes their marriage sounds more like a polite interaction with a store clerk or the mail carrier. Marriage is not supposed to mean that both people will get along all the time by agreeing on everything. Many couples go to great lengths to avoid conflicts. This is unhealthy for the marriage.
Showing anger is actually a form of intimacy. Think about the people who usually see your anger? Is it the people that you see in passing at the store, or is it more likely to be the people who live in your home?

Anger is not a bad emotion. Aggressive behavior is what is not good. However, there are safe ways to resolve conflict and share anger. Telling your partner your feelings, sharing that you disagree, and offering your opinion are all signs of a healthy relationship. Tiptoeing around issues or trying not to upset your partner can be a sign of problems. Although it might make sense to do those behaviors around your boss in order to keep your boss happy, trying to avoid conflict with your partner, may mean a lack of intimacy or trust.

If you and your partner disagree, find healthy ways to communicate your feelings. Set rules about how to handle conflict in a healthy way. Determine what behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors, such as aggression, are not.

Healthy conflict resolution can be helpful to a marriage. It can help both partners get their needs met. It can also teach people how to effectively communicate their feelings. There is something satisfying about solving a problem together where both people are satisfied with the outcome. It helps to ensure that resentment will not continue to build up over time as well.

Mort Fertel
Good stuff as far as it goes. It is important for Christian couples to realize that often God is using conflict as an opportunity for us to grow. Secondly we should always seek to resolve conflict in a way that glorifies God. That goal alone will lead to satisfying resolutions. Thirdly we should remember that we are one. As one we can’t be on both sides of the issue. When we are on different sides of the issue there is often a win-lose competitiveness that becomes more important than settling the issue. Get on the same side and brain storm ways that might resolve the issue, glorify God and take each of your perspectives into account.