But before you just click off this post and think, "Oh no! Here she goes getting all preachy again!" Just remember this: MY CHILD WAS KICKED OUT OF THE NURSERY so I could record this message and bring it to you, mighty internet. So read it and then, PLEASE, if you must ... boldly lie and tell me that these posts have had a profound positive impact on the health of your marriage. Because if all I get is crickets on this, I will feel even worse than I already do about not sitting in with Henry four weeks ago.
Alrighty then! After that nice little segue...
I thought that the service I went to two weeks ago was the last in this marriage series, but I was wrong. In my opinion, the two services that came after the chemistry service were by far, the BEST of all. These last two services have to do with resolving conflict. Which is a very important topic to cover, because what relationship doesn't have a healthy dose of conflict every so often?
Why is it, that the most fierce anger and resentment and hurtful words that we have, are usually directed at those that we love the most?
Why is it, that those that we care so deeply for, usually get the worst of us?
It is because, our guard is up when we interface with the outside world. For our mental health, we need to put up filters and watch what we say and whom we say what to. But when we are home, we are within our comfort zone and our guard comes down. And out comes the little (or big) devil within us.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you...? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? (James 4.1 NLT)The real conflict is within US.
(Us, as in, YOU and ME.)
(Not US as in the United States. Although some could argue that the real conflict is in the US but that's a topic for a different post. On a different day. Maybe this weekend. I've got a really good story to tell you.)
Learning 1: The reason we have EXTERNAL conflict is because we have INTERNAL conflict.
You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them... (James 4:2 NLT)There are fights within our relationships because WE are not getting what WE want.
Learning 2: The basis for our internal conflict is because we're not getting our own way.
... Yet you don't get what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong -- you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:2-3 NLT)(Check me out quoting scripture like a pro. Yo!)
When we don't get what WE want, we will go to extremes to change someone else's behavior. We yell louder. We intimidate. We give the silent treatment. We might even go so far as to withhold intimate relations <- sex.
No one but you, can live up to YOUR expectations. So don't even waste your time nor energy by putting them on someone else.
Here are some HEALTHY ways to handle conflict as a couple:
Principle #1: Understand many conflicts are PERPETUAL.
Action #1: Identify what YOUR issues are. (Better known as: what ticks you off?)
Action #2: Learn what you can live with. (Better known as: find some grace and get over it.)
It is estimated that 70% of conflicts in every relationship are perpetual and only 30% of couples are able to move towards resolution through forgiveness. The #1 cause of divorce is a hard heart toward the opposite spouse. There is no communication and no resolution of conflict. Instead, there is hurt and bitterness and resentment that continue to perpetuate and when people finally realize it's time to repair the relationship, a lot of damage has been done and people might believe that it is too late.
What separates a GOOD marriage from a BAD marriage is not the absence of conflict: it's the way that spouses deal with conflict in a HEALTHY way.
Principle #2: Resolve conflict through FORGIVENESS.
Action #1: Be TRUTHFUL. Communicate. Do not hide issues. If it's been too long and there has been too much neglect and you do not feel like you can communicate truthfully, seek help.
Action #2: Be LOVING. Touch, forgive, extend gentleness.
In serving our spouse = we are served.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)Our minister indicated that when he officiates weddings, he will tell the newlyweds that they are NOT compatible. They each have their own expectations and they don't even know yet just how different they really are. They come from two different families with two different histories. One family might be on the east coast. One might be on the west. One might be a morning person, one might not. One may be an introvert, the other an extrovert. One likes romantic comedies. One thinks that romantic comedies bite.
No relationship is perfectly compatible on every level. But in the beginning, in the early days of marriage, you might be so BLINDED by love that you don't even realize that rough waters or 200 foot drops may lie ahead. If you go in to a marriage realizing full well that there may be times of turbulence, but as a couple, you possess the ability to navigate through those difficult spots successfully, you will ultimately be stronger for it.
There should be some rules of engagement, or ground rules in your relationship:
1) No swearing. (Unless my lips were sewn together I might have a problem here. I'm just being truthful. Refer to Principle #2, Action Item #1, above.)
2) No hitting.
3) No breaking things. (Like Blackberries. We all have our weaknesses. I curse like a sailor.)
4) No "threatening" divorce.
5) Name some more... surely you can think of at least one?
If you break a ground rule, you have crossed the line and you need to resolve the conflict and ask for forgiveness.
A healthy marriage demands a fair amount of neglect. You have to learn to overlook certain things. Do not make corrections every time you see things done in a way you don't approve.
You should be able to have a weekly conference with your spouse where you allow each other an opportunity to speak. Not sure where you should start? Well, here are some questions you might consider:
1) What are you concerned about?
2) What do you wish for?
3) What are you going to do to make things happen?
If you are not able to resolve conflict, your relationship will dissolve.
And if you cannot have a civil discussion with your spouse, get help.
Now, what is the purpose of backgammon pictures scattered throughout this post?
Well, the reason is two fold.
1) I typically like to include pictures that are somewhat applicable to a post. And since I couldn't find any good pictures of us scowling at each other, I opted for these photos of backgammon, instead.
2) The first year that we were married, Charlie's father gave us a backgammon set that had once belonged to him and Jeanne (Charlie's mom). I didn't know the first thing about backgammon, but my husband taught me. And almost every night, we had the ritual of playing a game of backgammon to help us unwind. Sitting around our small kitchen table with a backgammon board between us, is one of the most wonderful memories I have of our first year of marriage.
As the tradition goes, we'll usually pour ourselves a glass of wine (or cup of hot tea) and we'll sit down and play for an hour. Or more. And we connect. We talk about stuff. We sort through issues. We discuss what's on our mind. If we've been having a particularly difficult day and we don't feel much like talking, backgammon brings us together and helps us to connect. At least until Charlie rolls a few double sixes and bumps all of my pieces on to the center board as he scurries his pieces home while laughing, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, HA! I'm going to win, you're going to LOSE!!"
And then I get mad. And I consider sleeping on the couch. Until I remember that I hate to sleep alone. So I forgive him, on the condition that he lets me win next time.
Which he never does.
But this is a perpetual problem that I have learned to live with.