Happily ever after is a lie. Struggle, hurt and disappointment intermingled with happiness, joy and peace is reality. I have yet to meet a couple who has made it to their 25th anniversary who didn’t have obstacles to overcome along the way … painful ones that made them question if their marriage would make it. Over and over as I hear the stories of “successful” marriages this truth emerges – happiness, joy and peace came after making it through the struggles.
The blending of two different people, two different perspectives, two different histories, two different sets of strengths and two different sets of weaknesses leads to an inevitable collision resulting in struggle. How those conflicts are handled is what determines the outcome. Too often selfishness is the focus, which leads to escalating the conflict instead of resolving it. “You did that so I’m going to do this because I’m mad at you.” Yes, I’m simplifying what is typically a lengthy tirade into one sentence, but when boiled down to the root that one sentence sums it up.
Don’t misunderstand me; there are definitely some situations that will take much longer to resolve than one conversation. In fact, most conflict requires ongoing discussions to truly find a resolution. Ahhh … and here we uncover the number one issue in a struggling marriage – the dreaded art of communication. Constructive communication requires three components … talking … listening … and understanding.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Those are typically the focus in poor communication within a marriage. Often times there is a stand-off of different perspectives leaving both sides battered and bruised from the barrage of accusations and assumptions. And all too often, the resolution looks like a husband and wife lying in the same bed, hanging off their own side to stay as far away from their spouse as possible.
The question we should be asking when the discussion starts is “How do WE fix this?”. Entering into the conversation with a goal in mind to find a resolution instead of building your cross-examination and defense.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:1-2
There are some conflicts that are moral issues – murder, infidelity, stealing, etc. Moral issues need more time, and communication to resolve. Then there are other conflicts that are centered around personal preference – how to fold towels or load the dishwasher, dog or cat, being early or late, etc. Personal preference issues will impact your marriage only when selfishness is the focus. Brothers and sisters, talk, listen and understand.
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. – Proverbs 18:2
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; – James 1:19
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. – Proverbs 29:22
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