Don’t Forget This When Conflict Erupts In Your Marriage

Guest Post from John Weirick

john-weirick-profile-pic-ccabalka-e1400552721855This week’s post is from guest blogger John Weirick. John Weirick is a writer in Greenville, South Carolina, hungry for knowledge, adventure, and doing things that matter. He’s writing a book about growing through change, conflict, and relationships, which you can learn more about at johnweirick.com. Find him and say hello on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

 

Madly In Love

My wife and I had been married just over a year and we couldn’t stand each other.

Well, I don’t know exactly what she was thinking, but I couldn’t stand her.

It was uncharacteristically hot where we were traveling in Oregon and the hotel she booked for us didn’t have air conditioning. Or ceiling fans. Or a personal shower. Or a personal bathroom. I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t have anything good to say, so I stayed furiously angry in silent scorn for her. How could she have missed it? How was I supposed to get any sleep when I couldn’t even stay cool? I had trusted her but she messed up. I didn’t care if our relationship felt unstable; I was ready for a fight.

The Truth About Conflict and Marriage

The truth is that no marriage is immune to conflict. It’s inevitable that we’ll have reasons to be mad at each other because we always fail each other in some way.

If you’re married and you’re reading this, you know it’s true.

The question then changes from “how can we avoid conflict?” to “how can we get through this conflict?”

We have by no means figured marriage out. However, we’ve learned a few things you might find useful, too.

3 Things To Remember When Your Marriage Suffers Conflict

1. Yes, you can be angry.

Experiencing the emotion of anger isn’t a sin; God actually wants us to be angry but not sin (Ephesians 4:26).

When you’re angry in your marriage, that’s fine. Just don’t let that anger stop you from communicating.

When communication stops, conflict grows the most dangerous. (tweet that)

Keep the lines of dialogue open the morning after an argument. Even if you hate each other’s guts in the moment, commit to revisit the issue at a time when you’re both prepared to respectfully unpack what the conflict looks like from your perspective and be willing to hear out the other person.

2. No, you don’t need to solve every conflict.

The first years of our relationship, we had operated under the assumption that conflicts happened but we were supposed to fix them. If we didn’t find a resolution right away, or at least soon, then our marriage would crack and eventually crumble. But like most assumptions in relationships, we were so wrong.

Conflict in marriage isn’t a problem to be solved, but a tension to manage. (tweet that)

Some of the conflicts in your marriage aren’t solvable because you are still two different people learning to be one (Mark 10:8). The conflict isn’t because of your relationship, but because of you.

It’s OK and good that you’re two unique individuals with various preferences, perspectives, and methods. Those differences fuel conflicts in your marriage, yes, but they also enable you to work together through them and continue to respect and love each other regardless, even when you least deserve it (Ephesians 5:33).

3. Conflict can be good.

Conflict can actually be good for your marriage if you let it. When you get into a tense conversation, or the tone of a disagreement turns hostile toward each other’s character, it’s going down a road that only leads to regret. But if you’re using the frustration of the moment to communicate more clearly what you see and feel and then listen to each other, you’ll be working toward a better connection than if you hadn’t had the conflict at all.

So step into the ring of marriage—not to hurt each other, but to learn to fight well and figure out a way forward together.

Read more about conflict, relationships, and intentional living at johnweirick.com.

Here’s A Perfect Valentine’s Day Idea For YOU!

Here is a simple observation: most couples love each other, but don’t know how to show it when they experience difficulties in their relationship. What do we do when we are at odds? How do we respond when hurt by the other? How are we supposed to react when we are angry?

Madly In Love

These and other such questions were the very reason I wrote the book: The PLEDGE of a Lifetime, Her Hope for Connection, His Guide Through Conflict. It has been one year since its publication. I have heard story after story from those who have read it how much they learned and how it has helped their relationships.

One person spoke of how she has read the book, and is now re-reading it because there is so much to grasp.

Many others have purchased multiple copies to give to their grown children to help in their marriages.

What do we do? How do we respond? How should we react? These and similar questions are all clearly answered in my book.

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When You Can’t Trust Your Spouse

I have heard it from both sides: “I can’t trust him – not after he hurt me like he did.” OR, “No way, I could never trust her again – not after what she did!”

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Much is said about how and when to trust again. Genuine repentance over a wrong done is a necessary beginning step. There is also a goodness in overlooking some things as we give each other grace. I am so thankful how many times my wife has “forgiven” me for not getting everything at the store as I said I would.

My focus in this post however, is to understand how three components of trust are necessary to bring healing to a relationship.

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6 Crucial Lessons For Your Marriage

Inspired By The Movie "War Room"

My wife and I went to see the Christian movie, War Room, recently produced by the Kendrick Brothers. It is about the battle that ensues over a troubled marriage. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, there are a number of key lessons to learn for your marriage to succeed. Here are six:

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1. Be prepared for conflict: when you get married you are entering into a war zone.

Before long, one or the other of you will hurt or disappoint the other, and conflict will occur. In time you may also experience conflict between you and your in-laws; between you and your children; and potentially between you and those outside your marriage who don’t care if your marriage survives or not. If the Ashley Madison scandal proves anything, it reveals that there are many people who are looking to have an extra-marital affair with someone else who is married. Learn to work through conflict. 

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Are You Serious?!?!

My Take On Ashley Madison

Hackers did it again. Last week the hacker group “Impact Team” broke into Ashley Madison, a website which connects married men and women with another partner to have an affair, and leaked the personal information of the site’s 37 million subscribers. Ashley Madison’s byline is: “Life is short; have an affair.”

Are you serious?

Wait – that isn’t strong enough.

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Sadly, millions have fallen prey to this deception, and now their names, addresses, financial info, and personal preferences have been exposed. At least 2 suicides have resulted from the leak and Ashley Madison is being sued in a class action lawsuit.

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What 8 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me about Joy & Pain

Guest Post from Danielle Darnell

While I’m away, I’m excited to share with you several guest posts from friends and colleagues that are passionate about marriages, relationships, and conflict resolution. This week’s post comes from Danielle Darnell. She and her husband Jake live in Kalamazoo, MI with their 2 little girls, Story and Teagan. When not working or mom-ing, Danielle loves to cycle, build tables, write about personal finance, and spend as many hours as she can gathered around a table with old friends and new, enjoying life together.

The Beginning Is Only The Beginning

Next month we will celebrate our 8th anniversary. But we’ve been together far longer than 8 years, 15 in fact. Brought together through brokenness, we met during our freshman year of high school, shortly after my parents separated and two years before his parents did the same.

We each had front row seats to the pain and damage that can arise through marriage and divorce. We bonded through trading war stories, helping each other reconcile the pain, and delivering just the right dash of humor when needed. And the thing we said more than anything is that someday when we get married to our spouses, we will do things differently.

Madly In Love (4)

We weren’t naive, we knew marriage took “work”, but we also knew that any amount of work and sacrifice was better than experiencing what we were going through at the hands of divorce. We knew what not to do, so we each began searching out scripture and mentors to help show us what to do.

Over the next few years, our friendship grew, but life took us apart for college. Through God’s grace, we stayed in touch and began to experience our feelings morph from friendship into love for each other. And we realized all the pain, all the tears, and all the late night talks about divorce had been knitting us together and laying a foundation for our own future marriage.

We married at 20 and 21, having already traveled the ups and downs of seven years of friendship together. By the time our wedding day arrived, I thought we were invincible. We knew what not to do, and we had a pretty good idea of what to do – what else was there to figure out?

A lot.

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Mark’s Marriage Minute

Did You Catch It?

If I had a dollar for every time I have witnessed one spouse misunderstand the other, I’d be doing very well right now. How does this happen so frequently?

In my book, Mike (the counselor) spells out the answer:

Mike quickly jumped in to concur, “Good— you both are right on target. For good communication to take place, there has to be good listening on both sides. And not only listening, but understanding. It’s critical that you do whatever it takes to truly understand each other. I don’t have a statistic to back this up, but in my experience of working with couples for over 25 years, I believe one of the biggest reasons couples get into arguments is they’re not taking the time to really understand what the other person is saying. Instead, they just react to what they hear on the surface and completely miss the core message.”

Did you catch it?

Rather than taking the time to really understand what the other person is saying, we react to something they said.

More often than not, it is a surface issue–not the primary concern. We miss the core message. Miscommunication occurs, and conflict often follows.

Here is this week’s challenge:

Do every thing you can to keep yourself from interrupting someone or reacting to what they are saying. Instead, listen intently so that you might really understand them. Seek to hear the core of what they are saying. You will be surprised the difference this makes in your communication!

Razor Sharp: 6 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Sharp

Guest Post from Dave Barringer

barringerWhile I’m away the next few weeks, I’m excited to share with you several guest posts from friends and colleagues that are passionate about marriages, relationships, and conflict resolution. This week’s post comes from Dave Barringer, Lead Pastor at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God in Kalamazoo, MI. Dave loves writing, preaching, and talking about marriage and has an incredible ability to do so with more humor and humility than most. He and Anne have been married for 17 years and have 2 kids, Cammi and Ethan. Don’t miss Dave’s blog at www.pdave.me and find him on Twitter.

From the beginning of this, please note something: Marriage is hard work.  In saying that, I want to pose a question:

Are we working too hard on our marriage?

Before you fire off emails, posts, rebuttals, etc at me, I want to work out a thought that came out the other day.  It stemmed from a simple saying:

Work smarter; not harder.

When my son turned 10, he got his first pocket knife. He’s seen me whittle before (I’m not very good) and he’s been wanting to do it too.  I wanted to make sure it was sharp and it stayed sharp. Anne was concerned he was going to lose an appendage keeping it sharp. But I explained something key: The sharper you keep your knife, the easier it is to work on the project and, thus, less likely to get hurt. So, often I’d have Ethan bring me his knife and we’d take a few moments to sharpen his blade. I know it frustrated him to stop his project for something that seemed so small, but little corrections to the blade made all of the difference.  Struggling with a dull knife invites motions and angles that can lead to injuries.

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Marriage is no different. Some of you are working hard on some areas with “dull blades.” You find yourself getting hurt in conversations and conflicts. You leave moments together with “nicks” on your heart.  I want to help you work smarter. It doesn’t remove the hard work, but why make hard work harder? It’s time to regain your “edge.” It’s time to step back and make some small, intentional moves that can keep your marriage sharp.

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What is Your Default Future?

Throughout my life I have struggled with decision making. I have gone under exhaustive self analysis to figure out why, and have a pretty good idea of the reasons behind it. There is one revelation I have had that has helped more than any other. It is this: when I don’t decide, I default to either what someone else wants and dictates for my life, or to what life circumstances dictate because of failing to decide. When I remember that, I make more decisions. Why? Because I don’t like defaulting. It makes me feel weak. It leaves me feeling frustrated about myself. I see that I am not taking an active part in what happens in my life and around me. I want to do better.

Madly In Love

What does this have to do with marriage?  A lot!!!

Most couples live out the entirety of their marriage in default mode. Que sera, sera (whatever will be, will be.) Very little time, money, focus or energy is used to move the marriage relationship forward and deeper. At best, they maintain their present experience as husband and wife. At worst, they put in little or no effort leading to a decline in their relationship. 

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Mark’s Marriage Minute

Dealing With Conflict...

In the opening chapter of my book you read the following story about Jake and Lisa:

“I can’t believe you’re telling me this!” yelled Jake. He knocked his chair over with a clatter and stomped toward the front door. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“Jake, come back!” cried Lisa, following him out to the driveway.

“I can’t! I have to get away and think,” growled Jake as he tried to contain his rage.

“I’m sorry! Really, I am! WAIT!” Lisa pleaded as Jake drove off, tires squealing, in his ’94 Mustang convertible.

Okay now stop a moment. Imagine this:  you are Lisa…or you are Jake. What do you do next?

Most of us really don’t know. We experience conflict and we hate it – for a number of reasons – one of them being we simply don’t know what to do when it happens!

My heart and passion is to help people find their way through difficult times like the one above. I can only help however, those who are willing to learn.

My challenge for you this week is to do one of the following to further your understanding of how to deal with conflict when it happens:

  • Ask a friend, mentor, pastor, or parent what they have learned over the years to help them deal with conflict well. Start a journal and write down what you discover.
  • Google “conflict resolution strategies” and write down what you learn.
  • Beg, borrow, or – no, don’t steal – buy my book The PLEDGE of a Lifetime and LEARN all you can about how to process conflict well in love!