Friday, June 5, 2015

Marriage Tip #20

"You always do that!"

"You never do this for me."

"Why do you always have to do that?"

I'm sure that we have heard and said any number of these phrases in our lifetime. I know that I have caught myself with these words rolling of my tongue before. In marriage, they can be extremely damaging. Unfortunately, I have said these words in other relationships, and found them trying to escape off my tongue a few times in marriage too.

A while back I was taking a class that talked about how to conflict well. There were certain rules that they laid out on how to "fight fair" and one thing that has stuck with me since then is that you need to remove the words "always" and "never" completely from your vocabulary in conflict and when confronting others with issues.

That is for very good reason, and because of that, it is my tip to you today as well. Whether you are married or not, we are all in relationships with other people. Our parents, peers, co-workers, spouses, we are surrounded by relationships. And it is inevitable that we will experience conflict in these relationships. How we handle it and what we say is huge, and in marriage, it is so crucial to pay attention to what we are saying.

Zach and I agreed early on that we wanted to keep "always" and "never" from our vocabulary when in conflict and when approaching each other about an issue. Zach does an amazing job of staying true to this, and I know that I am sorry to say that I have found these words escaping from my mouth a few times. Nothing ever detrimentally damaging, but I knew the instant I said it that I shouldn't have.

For one, always and never are strong words. And using them to address an issue paints a picture that just isn't true. For example "oh you ALWAYS do this and it's so annoying!" Well, be honest with yourself. Do they ALWAYS do it? No. Another example "you NEVER do this anymore." Really? NEVER? I think you get the picture that we exaggerate a little bit in our frustrations and emotions and pull out the "big guns" with these words.

In the class that I first learned about these "rules" they gave suggestions for what to do so that you do not use "always" and "never." First was to use the specific example. Explain your heart and how a particular situation made you feel. Don't group everything together. Give the specific situation so that you can both work through it together.

Some other suggestions that I have found to be helpful? Think before you speak. Much easier said than done, but it is vital. Slow down, take a breath. Take stock. Ask yourself what is really happening and what you are really feeling. What is the real issue? Chances are it's not the measly little thing that happened, but a deeper root. Be willing to be vulnerable and truly share your heart in a non threatening way.

In marriage, we are both imperfect people coming together. The Lord gives us so much grace, and we need to extend that to one another. Myself included in this! I have so much work to do on this area. Have patience for one another and be willing to be honest. Share your heart.

And another huge suggestion? Pray together. So many flaming arrows from the enemy can be extinguished when you come together and pray. Lay it all down before the Lord and come together in unity with him. Marriage is such a scared and special covenant, and the Enemy would like nothing more than to tear that apart. So, we must be watchful, and pray continuously!

What is your experience with the words "always" and "never?" Do you ever struggle with this too? What are ways that you try to conflict well with your spouse so you can resolve an issue and love each other the best you can?

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