4 WAYS (of 7) TO FIGHT RIGHT (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 2 of 3)

4 WAYS (of 7) TO FIGHT RIGHT (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 2 of 3)

Conflict PIN Star WarsHow’s the fighting going? Are you learning to fight right?

Last week I wrote that one person + one person = two perspectives, and two perspectives = inevitable conflict. (Click here to see that post.)

However, conflict can be good for you and your relationships. It all hinges on how you deal with conflict.

You must honestly evaluate why there’s conflict, and what truly is at the heart of the issue. Of course, conflict can erupt for all kinds of reasons, but there are three particular reasons just beneath the surface of many of our arguments.

  • Competing desires

  • Unresolved issues

  • Unmet expectations

Conflict Fight Right PIN

The good news is there are healthy and practical ways to deal with and mitigate conflict. Here are four of seven things that can help (I’ll give you the other three next week):

  1. Recognize the cause.

Ultimately, the cause is our fallen nature and our constant concern for our own selfish desires. So we need to do the hard work of discovering the root cause of our conflict.

More often than not, the true cause isn’t what the argument is actually about. As my marriage counselor used to say, “Often the issue isn’t the issue.” Meaning, the presenting issue is seldom the root issue.

If you seek ways to resolve an argument but fail to discover the actual cause of the argument, you haven’t resolved the actual conflict. It will just erupt again at a later date, and likely with more fury.

If you only remove a weed at the surface, it tends to come back. It may be difficult to dig into the heart issues, but the health of your relationships may demand such hard work.

Conflict Issue PIN

  1. Listen to understand.

Whenever my wife says something about my bad attitude, if it ticks me off, I make a stupid reply. (Shocking, I know.) During the ensuing game of verbal ping-pong, she often says, “I don’t feel like you’re really listening to me.” Typically, at that point I pause and realize that’s the first thing I’d heard her say during our argument.

It never ceases to amaze me how effective honest, intentional, active listening can be. When you listen with the goal of sincerely understanding people—without thinking up your rebuttal while they’re still talking—you demonstrate honor for them and your desire to have a healthy relationship.

Such active listening can help you recognize the real cause of the conflict and identify where you need to take responsibility.

Conflict Listen PIN

  1. Own your part.

I should say here that almost every step in this process takes courage. These suggestions buck against our selfish natures. We must often war with ourselves in order to bring peace to our relationships.

I think many Christians are keen on quoting Jesus’s “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye?” when they’re the ones being judged. Too few of us, however, focus on the pointed, active verb he uses in the latter half of that command: “First, get rid of the log in your own eye.”

Rather than blame, own. Instead of accusing, admit.

I’ve said this a gazillion times, and I’ll never tire of saying it: being relational is more important than being right. When we make being right a greater concern than being relational, we’re wrong.

Conflict Gentle Answer PINWhen you own your part of the argument, you take the ammo out of the other person’s gun. Remember, Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” In taking responsibility for yourself, you’re breaking the cycle of conflict and leading yourself and the other person along a better path.

Owning your part requires honesty with yourself and with the other person without shifting even an iota of blame onto them (even if you really, really want to and they really, really deserve it).

It also means confessing your failure without minimizing what you did. Come clean with your mistake without any justification or rationalization. If you’ve rarely spoken such words to your spouse or friend before, you may be amazed at how such raw transparency breeds the same in the other person, starting a better cycle of confession and forgiveness—much like a relationship with God. Confession can cure guilt too.

BTW, conflict is never 100 percent the other person’s fault. There’s always something you can own.

  1. Express hurt without hostility.

Unhealthy and unholy conflict hurts both people in the relationship. However, when dealt with in humility, each person should feel secure enough in their relationship to be honest about their feelings.

The best way to prevent hostility from escaping out of the sides of your mouth is to shore up your speech with “I” messages rather than “You” messages. This is one area where being selfish, in a way, is recommended.

Conflict Respond Lighthouse PINFor instance, instead of saying “You made me mad when you yelled at me,” turn the phrase around to “I feel angry because of what happened yesterday.” By placing the emphasis on your feelings, you’re ensuring that the other person doesn’t feel threatened and become defensive. “You” statements are intimidating. “I” declarations help diffuse hostilities.

If anger or some other heightened emotion prevents you from being able to talk responsibly with a person, take a time out and pray to God about your hurt. He’s big enough and trustworthy enough to take your anguish and turn it into something better rather than bitter.

Next week I’ll wrap up this “conflict” series by giving you three more practical and helpful ways to deal with conflict. In the meantime, remind yourself to ask the why question and start working on these four ways to grow rather than just go through your next fight.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

 

Mr Mrs Front Panel

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from my book: MR. & MRS. ~ HOW TO THRIVE IN A PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MARRIAGE

ORDER IT HERE. The eBook (digital) version is on sale today for only $2.99.

83% of the reviewers of this book gave it a 5-Star rating and 17% gave it 4 stars!

It’s great for couples you need a “tune-up” or couples in trouble. It is also a helpful premarital book.

 

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2 Responses to 4 WAYS (of 7) TO FIGHT RIGHT (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 2 of 3)

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WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR LAST BIG FIGHT! (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 1)

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR LAST BIG FIGHT! (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 1)

Conflict PIN 1I hate to break it to you, but your life (and your marriage) will never be conflict-free. One person + one person = two perspectives, and two perspectives = inevitable conflict.

Yes, there are healthy ways to deal with and mitigate conflict, but major differences of opinion will be a constant thorn in the side of both people in the relationship. Over time, you may even begin to believe that the other person is the thorn.

Conflict Can Be Good for You

Conflict is like dynamite. If used rightly, it helps people. Used wrongly, it kills.

Conflict is also like fire. It will burn you, but it’ll also guide your way.

The key aspect in both of those illustrations is the knowledge and experience of the one wielding the substance. If a person understands the constructive aspects of a destructive device, they’ll be much more wary about its dangers and more intent on reaping its benefits.

Conflict PIN 2

If you know how to deal with it, conflict can actually benefit your relationships and your marriage. In fact, conflict can push your relationship to new heights, but only if you allow it to be a healthy process and not a game you have to win at all costs.

I’ve been married to my best friend for over forty years. We know about conflict. Over those decades, we’ve learned a few things about each other, but we’ve learned an immense amount about handling conflict well. Of course, neither of us is perfect, but we know now to look deeper than the surface issue that often gives way to conflict in our marriage.

We ask ourselves questions like:

  • Why did this happen?

  • What’s really at the heart of this issue?

  • Where do I need to grow and change?

Essentially, we’ve learned that conflict can be healthy once we get past the emotions of the moment and take an honest look at our own hearts.

Conflict PIN 3

Our Major Causes of Conflict

Of course, conflict can erupt for all kinds of reasons, but these three particular reasons are often the deeper issues hiding just beneath the surface of many of our fights.

1.  Competing desires

James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but you don’t get it.”

This may be the broadest, most basic source of our conflict. The wife wants something; the husband wants something else. It’s not rocket science, though seeking resolution in such instances can sometimes feel that way. Our varying needs and desires will be a frequent source of conflict in our marriages.

It doesn’t help that our culture constantly feeds us the lie of “have it your way” either.

2.  Unresolved issues

These issues can come from outside or inside of the home . . .

A BFF says or does something stupid and you are deeply hurt, but you pretend all is well.

A husband may bring his work woes home with him, taking out his day-job anger on his wife.

A wife may misunderstand something and think her husband made a derogatory remark about her, letting that unchecked thought fester into bitterness.

These are often problems that begin as the size of a snowball. As time passes, the snowball turns into an avalanche, claiming victims throughout a household. Unresolved issues don’t melt away. They harden into anger, resentment, bitterness, and conflict.

Conflict PIN 4

3.  Unmet expectations

This may be the most hurtful cause of conflict because the “victim’s” hopes suffer a terrible blow.

Consider the new husband on his honeymoon, full of sexpectations, only to be met with a sunburned wife.

Or the new mom who’s barely slept in a week as she waves goodbye to her husband heading out the door for a round of golf with the guys.

Or the empty-nesters with two totally different ideas as to what to do with all their free time.

This list is endless. We all bring certain expectations to all our relationships and to our marriage, and for a wide variety of reasons. Having expectations isn’t a bad thing, but having unrealistic expectations—and especially ones that are never communicated—will inevitably lead to trouble.

I don’t believe that a step-by-step strategy can instantly solve all of your issues, but I do believe that if we are teachable (i.e. willing to grow) we can experience lasting change.

Next week we’ll look at some practical ways that will help you resolve conflict. For now, stop and reflect on why you’re fighting (the real reason is probably one of the above), and bravely go to the true heart of the issue.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Conflict PIN 5

 

Mr Mrs Front PanelA portion of this blog is an excerpt from my book: MR. & MRS. ~ HOW TO THRIVE IN A PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MARRIAGE

ORDER IT HERE. The eBook (digital) version is on sale today for only $2.99.

83% of the reviewers of this book gave it a 5-Star rating! It’s great for couples you need a “tune-up” or couples in trouble. It is also a helpful premarital book.

 

 

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4 Responses to WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR LAST BIG FIGHT! (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 1)

  1. Kurt, your comments on conflicts will surely aim couples, families, and churches toward mending relationships, especially as we realize we have unmet expectations the other person doesn’t even know about! As I read your post, I also kept thinking how the plot of a good novel or story relies on conflict, so I’ll highlight your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog in hopes of its helping readers on many levels! Thanks and blessings.
    http://www.christianpoetsandwriters.com

  2. Respect. Communication. Forgiveness. Three watchwords that guide a relationship to smooth waters. Took us (me mostly) 5 decades to finally get that through our (mine mostly) minds. And the turning point? We accepted Jesus into our lives and live as though He were watching. Keeps one focused, to be sure!!!

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WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

Hero ShipEarly on the morning of February 2, 1943, a luxury liner (converted into an Army transport ship) named The Dorchester was carrying 902 service men. The vessel was about 150 miles from an American base in Greenland when a torpedo from a German submarine struck it. In less than twenty minutes, the Dorchester sank beneath the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Tragically, 672 men died that day leaving only 230 survivors.

Hero ChaplinsFour of the men who lost their lives that horrible night were chaplains. Those Army chaplains were Lt. George Fox, Lt. Alex Goode, Lt. John Washington, and Lt. Clark Poling. Each of these four men willingly sacrificed his life for others.

When the torpedo hit, many were immediately killed and many more were seriously wounded. Panic and chaos overwhelmed the soldiers as men scrambled to the deck searching through the smoke and darkness for lifejackets.

Amidst the turmoil, the chaplains quickly spread out among the frightened men, tending to the wounded and guiding the disoriented to safety. They offered prayers and comforted the dying.

Hero Chaplins 2As they reached the deck of the ship, the four men began distributing lifejackets from the storage lockers. According to witnesses, when there were no more jackets available, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men. One survivor, John Ladd, said, “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.”

Survivors in the nearby rafts said they could see the chaplains with their arms linked and praying as the ship went down.[1]

I love a good war story. Not because I love war but because stories of heroism and sacrifice inspire us. In fact, intuitively, you already know that for anything great to be accomplished, significant sacrifice almost always is required.

  • Martin Luther King sacrificed his life for the cause of equal rights.

  • Mother Teresa sacrificed her life for the poor.

  • Nelson Mandela sacrificed his freedom, spending twenty-seven years in prison to free his country from the grip of apartheid.

  • Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

We recognize and honor these heroes, but we too often excuse ourselves from that kind of heroism by saying, “I’m no Mother Teresa!”

Hero Mother T PIN

SACRIFICE IS NOT THE OTHER “S” WORD

For some, the idea of sacrificing their lives or their resources for someone else seems ludicrous. They might consider doing so for a child or maybe for a close friend, but when the torpedo hits, many people operate out of self-preservation rather than selfless sacrifice.

However, it’s imperative for you to understand that the uncommon life of a hero is one of sacrifice. In fact, a radical and extraordinary life is one in which you embrace a spiritual paradox: To get more out of life you must give more of your life.

Hero Cross PIN

Jesus put it this way, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”[2]

Do you see the paradox here?

Jesus said that the path to true discipleship (and being a hero in His eyes) is a journey of self-denial, sacrifice, and loss, but it’s also the only way to real life.

By nature, we think joy and satisfaction are found in gathering and hoarding. We sometimes hold on to what we have and love with a death grip. But Jesus said to hold this life loosely if we want to live securely in His hand forever.

Forever. That’s a long time and a pretty good deal for a bunch of ragtag recovering idiots like you and me.

Sacrifice matters to God, to others, and to you. It matters in your marriage and in your family. In fact, it matters in all your relationships. It’s how you become a hero. So choose well. Live well. Be well.

Hero Beach Choose Well

Like what you’ve read here today?

Check out my books on Amazon. The eBook versions can be purchased today for only $2.99.

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[1] Story and information taken from: http://www.fourchaplains.org

[2] Luke 9:23-25

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10 Responses to WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

  1. Hi Kurt:
    I enjoyed this war story. I am one of those women who say I am not Mother Theresa, just “cause when I do something is because I have the kindness and willingness of my heart to do it, there is this unconditional altruistic feeling. However, we live in a real world that eventually if you don’t claim your own heroism you will never aim for help. How many people who are recognized as heroes, they are at somebody else’s price, that’s what you are promoting. I have to go to the synagogue, and I hope you understand my message. I explain further later if interested, I do like the chapter of your book. Enjoy your wkd. Lily

    • Hi Lily, Thank you for your input. Just to be clear, by no means am I encouraging people to self-promote themselves into “hero” status. The story and my blog simply encourages sacrifice for the benefit of others. Hope that helps you understand my goal. Blessings!

  2. I think being parents are heros…I think trying to raise kids in this messed up world to be good honest helpful loving Christians is about the toughest job out there. It is a struggle every day to not hold tight to your kids & not let go.
    I know I struggle with this constantly & in an emotional war as we speak..but u certainly don’t feel a hero I feel like a failure

    • Hi Kelly, I SO agree! Parents (including you) are heroes. They sacrifice, serve, care and unconditionally love their kids…a hero for sure. Still praying for you and yours. You are loved.

  3. Okay, this is my first time at this. What you are talking about, Kurt, is tough for us guys. When we think of a hero we think of going in a blaze of glory and looking really great and being greatly admired. What Jesus talks about is something different. When He warned Peter about his coming denials and said he was praying to God, He didn’t pray God would save peter from the denials but, that he would have strength do bounce back. Jesus then told Peter that when he came back he was to use the experience to help and support his brothers. That’s not what we think of as a hero, we want to save face and we forget Judas died to save face and Peter “died” to live.

  4. Hero:1.

    a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

    So, sitting around the campfire with a bunch of guys, and the question arises as to whom each considers a hero. Sports figures, political figures, etc., etc., etc. are offered. My turn came and I said Jesus. You should have heard the silence. It was deafening!!! In my mind, Jesus is the most wonderful example of “hero”. The night He was arrested, He prayed for you and me (see John 17). He was not considering Himself, He thought of those around Him and all future generations. He took the sins of the world upon Himself and made sure that those that believed in Him would see favor in the eyes of the Father. It is not a myth, it is a fact. Thank you Kurt for the wisdom of your words!!!

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BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW  (Yes, this is about sex.)

BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (Yes, this is about sex.)

Sex Pin 0Birds do it, bees do it (but drone bees actually die after sex), and most men want it. A lot.

Some suggest that men think about sex as often as most people blink, about 15 times a minute, or every 4 seconds. However, studies indicate that it’s more like 15-20 times a day and not hundreds of times per hour. Whatever the number, it’s safe to say men think about sex on a regular basis.

How researchers measure how many times a person thinks about sex is a mystery to me. A complicating factor in most studies is known as the “white bear problem.” If you want to have fun with a child, tell them to put their hand in the air and only put it down when they’ve stopped thinking about a white bear. Once you start thinking about something, trying to forget it just brings it back to mind.

Additionally, one’s age, health, energy and environment matter. A robust eighteen-year-old at the beach probably has sexual thoughts far more often than an old man taking an afternoon nap during a football game (then again, there are those cheerleaders).

Whatever the statistics, I’m going to make two assumptions: 1) men think about sex on a regular basis; 2) few women understand the challenges most men face regarding sex.

Sex Pin 1

By the way, there’s one more thing I want to clear up before we go any further. Experiencing arousal does not mean men are automatically leaping from arousal to imagining infidelity or undressing every woman they meet. There is a difference between arousal and sexual fantasy or activity. Of course, arousal might lead to fantasy or sexual activity, but that depends on what we do with those thoughts.

Let me be painfully clear: Sexual arousal or even sexual temptation is not a sin. It’s what we do with those thoughts and temptations that matter. (Read that sentence again; it’s important.)

So what is the difference between arousal and sexual sin?

  • Arousal: Wow! That person is hot! And you may even experience attraction.

  • Sexual sin: I want to have sex with him/her. You fantasize about the act of sex with someone other than your spouse, which Jesus said is sin (Matthew 5:28). Of course, it’s also wrong to pursue emotional and physical satisfaction through intercourse with someone other than your spouse.

The only way arousal becomes a problem is if you let it control you rather than learning to exercise control over your mind and heart.

Sex Pin 2

Here’s my presupposition: You can’t stop arousal or attraction, but you can direct or redirect your thoughts and actions. We are sexual beings made by God with sexual desires. By God’s design, sexuality is a part of our humanity. It’s literally in our DNA. Again, it’s what we do with that desire that determines whether we end up in sin or not.

So what’s a person to do? (BTW, these apply to everyone, not just men.)

  1. Admire beauty with caution. It’s normal and okay to acknowledge someone is attractive. However, allowing that acknowledgement to become lust is not. When we linger, we lust. In other words, it’s nearly impossible to stare at someone and not drift to something beyond admiration. You know the difference. You know where the line is, so don’t cross it. If you’re looking at someone other than your spouse and think, Gotta have that! then you’re lusting. Lust is about wanting something that doesn’t belong to you.

  1. Don’t excuse lust or porn as harmless. They’re not. In fact, allowing these things into your heart creates at least two problems: 1) you start to see people as objects rather than those created in the image of God; 2) you throw yourself into a vortex that leads to more aberrant and uncontrollable sexual thoughts, making natural sexual experiences unsatisfying.

    Porn does not satisfy your sexual longings. Porn does not bring you sexual relief. Porn twists your perspective of this gift of sex from God and fans the flame of lust that makes it difficult not to be obsessed with sex.

    In marriage, sex is a gift. However, when we take that gift and pollute it with images that are unholy, we end up driven by compulsions that are self-centered. What can be done to satisfy me becomes the focus rather than putting our spouse’s needs before our own.

    If you find yourself drifting to porn, I suggest you get an accountability partner and accountability software, then learn to identify your triggers and avoid them like the plague. In other words, make it difficult to look at pornography, and find a friend who will help you.

Sex Pin 3

  1. Make holy and healthy choices with your eyes, heart and mind. At the moment of arousal, you can make a choice to pursue it or control it. Take those sexual thoughts captive (redirect them) rather than becoming enslaved by lust.

    Tragically, we live in a culture in which people are encouraged to dress provocatively. Sexy clothing is sold everywhere. We’ve become accustomed to suggestive apparel and indecent exposure. Certainly, this complicates things for anyone attempting to make moral choices.

    Nonetheless, the Word says guard your heart, protect your eyes, and flee immorality. Each of those admonitions (and many others) involve a choice you and I must make. We are sexual beings; we had no choice in that matter. But by God’s grace and through healthy, godly choices we can thrive despite the challenges of our times.

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Sex Pin 5

Like what you’ve read here today?

Check out my books on Amazon. The digital version of Perfectly Imperfect and Mr. & Mrs. can be purchased today for only $2.99.

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6 Responses to BIRDS, BEES AND MEN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (Yes, this is about sex.)

  1. This is a perfect point of view to discuss with my 3 teenager girls!
    I think this perspective is DEAD ON and i would like to have a open discussion with my girls about dressing appropriately so we can avoid the annual war of clothes before a new year of school starts..I dread this time of year….

    • Thanks, Kelly, glad it helps and gives you a format for discussion with your girls. I would encourage you to have a very open conversation with them about all of this, including porn. Some researchers say that nearly 25% of porn users are women (many of them young woman). Praying God gives you wisdom and favor.

4 WAYS (of 7) TO FIGHT RIGHT (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 2 of 3)
How’s the fighting going? Are you learning to fight right? Last week I wrote that one person + [more]
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR LAST BIG FIGHT! (Healthy ways to resolve conflict ~ Part 1)
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