I’m working with a married couple in crisis right now.
If I were to share with you the nitty gritty details of their issues, you’d think, “There’s no way this will get better.” What’s so exciting to me is that the core of their problems isn’t any different than the core of Adam and Eve’s issues in the Garden…and it’s something you and I struggle with, too: Personal Responsibility. The lack of this principle in their lives shows up in the blaming, judgmental, critical words they use to attempt to bridge the chasm between them, and even before that, the unhealthy habits of thinking they’ve developed over the years.
As a man (or woman) thinketh, so is he.
I have no control over another human being, but am responsible for my response to him/her. My ability to apply this principle determines the level of peace and joy I have in that relationship. When I have responsibility for myself, and I respect myself as a temple of the Holy Spirit and an ambassador of Jesus Christ, I can actively choose to receive and freely give love, regardless of the other person’s response. I can display the fruits of the Spirit without expectation – because I’m not responsible for another person’s action.
If I’m unhappy in my marriage, I can take action to change that, and be responsible for my sense of well being in this relationship. Why would I want to control, manipulate, dominate OR be on the receiving end of those things? That goes against the very nature of Christ and is therefore hypocritical. If you don’t believe me, try to make someone else stop sinning. Good luck.
Handling Conflict Well
Ever not known what to do in a conflict?
Ever think, “I don’t like this, but I don’t know what to do?”
Ever respond in unhealthy ways?
Most people are lousy at this and become either 1) steamrollers or 2) doormats. Many people are completely unaware of the myriad of healthy options available to us that represent Christ, who is Love and worthy of respect and honor.
I believe we, as Christians, married or not, need to get REALLY good at engaging in conflict. Choosing to talk spiritual stuff with someone because you want them to follow Christ is actually engaging in a conflict around a core belief. If we aren’t living this in our own lives through healthy communication behaviors, we are in danger of becoming either doormats or steamrollers. Neither demonstrate personal responsibility, nor are they worthy of respect. Neither of them win souls, nor do they help us walk through conflict in healthy ways.
Unhealthy thinking that doesn’t take personal responsibility leaves us blaming (which is a form of judgment) the other person: He made me sad…he hurt my feelings…his drinking makes me angry…her shopping makes me frustrated…his overeating disappoints me… I feel bad about myself because my husband thinks I’m fat…
No More Blame-Game
So, just like the Garden of Eden – where Adam blamed Eve, and she blamed the serpent – we don’t like to take personal responsibility, but need to. To do otherwise is SIN. Personal responsibility (which engages us in a healthy sense of self) helps us deal with conflict and turn our marriages into something that glorifies God. It gives Him the space He needs to do His thing in a person’s heart without our interference.
Let’s stop blaming others for the way we feel. If we do this, we can impact our world for Christ in ways we’ve never dreamed! This is a simple thing, but not an easy thing.
I don’t know a single soul that’s been saved because the gospel was shoved down their throat. I do, however know a whole bunch of people (like myself) who have been wooed by Him. In the same ways, marriages are similar. I don’t know a single husband or wife who have had their hearts changed by a doormat or a steamroller – but I do know those who have seen Christ’s patient love in their spouse. I’ve also seen a ton of wives turn their marriages around because of The Respect Dare, which helps us learn personal responsibility, choose how to respond to our husbands, and get out of God’s way while He does His thing with the man.
Therein lies True freedom in Christ.
What about you? What kind of conflict style do you lean toward? Steamroller or Doormat? Dare you to share today about that and why you think that is!
Love to you!
Want to get better at handling conflict? You might consider joining our dynamic community of wives changing their marriages through applied respect in healthy conflict. You can find out more at www.GreaterImpact.org/ecourse-sign-up/
Want to follow the journey of 6 dissatisfied wives who face conflict with husbands?
The best ways to handle conflict with your tweens / teens:
What to become a MASTER at handling conflict? Titus 2 Leadership Boot Camp