What conflict avoiders must know!

I’m an expert conflict avoider.  How about you?  I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and rage and verbal abuse.  As a result, everything within me always tried desperately to avoid anything in my marriage that could have resulted in tension, raised voices, or anything remotely resembling conflict.

However, avoiding conflict is a recipe for disaster in a marriage.  I learned that the hard way in my first marriage, which failed.  Here’s the thing.  If you don’t address the things that are really bothering you about your husband or your marriage, a seed of bitterness is planted in your heart.  That seed slowly takes root and grows, and after months and years go by, you will most likely grow to despise your husband and want a divorce!  Not good.

So, commit to respectfully, lovingly, and diligently address the things that are bothering you within your marriage.  Hebrews 12:15 warns us not to let “any bitter root grow up among you to cause trouble…”  So, ask God to give you the courage to gently and respectfully discuss your concerns with your husband.  Ask God to give you the courage to express your needs and desires to your husband.  Do not become invisible.  When you start stuffing your feelings and immediately cave in during disagreements, toxic resentment will start to grow inside you. Don’t let that happen!

Best question when frustrated

There’s a golden phrase I discovered many years ago.  When I started using it, I found it helped prevent my husband from getting defensive when I was upset or frustrated about something he had said or done.  Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”

This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head.  By asking your husband to “help me understand”, you’re communicating two things to your husband.  1) You really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) You’re acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever.  At least, you’re giving him a chance to explain himself before you start arguing with him or condemning him!!  

By asking your husband to help you understand his behavior or perspective, you’re avoiding a foolish argument.  Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”  By asking your husband to help you understand his perspective, you’re pleasing both God and your husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”

Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way.  You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more.  Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Are you giving Satan this foothold?

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 – 27, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Well, over the years of my marriage to Raul, I didn’t always obey that instruction and my disobedience was almost disastrous!  One occasion comes to mind as a good example.  My husband had acted in a way that really bothered me.  I was steaming for hours and couldn’t even bring myself to talk to him about it because I feared we’d get embroiled in a huge conflict.  So, I went to bed early, by myself.  I went to bed by myself, wrapped in a blanket of resentment, bitterness, and ugly thoughts about my husband.  As I lay there steaming, that resentment started morphing into thoughts such as “I’d be better off without him” and “He’s such a jerk. I’m going to be cold as ice toward him from now on.”

I am so thankful the Holy Spirit finally broke through and prompted me to get out of bed and go speak with my husband.  I sensed that I was giving the devil a “foothold” in my marriage through me stuffing the issue and letting resentment grow.  So, I went and found my husband in the living room, knelt by his side as he was sitting on the couch and told him that I truly do see so many good qualities in him.  I also told him why his behavior had bothered me. 

I know you’re thinking he agreed with my assessment, but he didn’t!!!  However, a good thing did happen.  We calmly acknowledged our difference of opinion, and I was able to go to sleep in peace.  There was no wedge between me and my husband.  Don’t allow the enemy to gain a foothold in your marriage.  Resist the temptation to go to sleep with simmering anger and resentment.

Are you causing collateral damage?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get pretty grumpy when events become challenging in my day.  When the internet goes down while I’m trying to work on my computer, I get super frustrated.  When I accidentally drop a bunch of flour on the floor while baking, I get grouchy.   When I get an unanticipated bill in the mail, I get really irritated.  Unfortunately, when that happened in the past, if my husband happened to walk by at that particular moment, I inflicted collateral damage!  Collateral damage is a military term where civilians, who were minding their own business, are injured unintentionally by a military strike.  Hmmm.  Yes, my husband sometimes ended up being that innocent civilian who was injured by the bullets coming from my mouth and the darts shooting from my eyes during moments of irritability!

How can you prevent this collateral damage?  Here are two possible remedies: 

1)  Pause before you react!  Before a word comes out of your mouth, pause.  During this pause, remember who your enemy is.  Your enemy is NOT your husband…or your children.  Your enemy is Satan and he is TRYING to provoke you!  1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”  

2)  Claim two specific Bible promises and pray that God would fulfill those promises for you in this moment…Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon forged against me will prevail” and Romans 8:28 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose“. 

3 Bible verses that heal insecurity

Most women are plagued by insecurity.  As a result of our insecurity, we end up putting up with rude or abusive behavior from others.  Our insecurity leads up to covet what other women have.  Our insecurity prompts us to put other people down so we look better in comparison.   When we are drowning in insecurity, we tend to expect a man to be the “answer”.  We seek and catch a husband and then expect him to make us feel better about ourselves by constantly telling us that we’re beautiful, desirable, smart, funny, intelligent, etc.   However, husbands are imperfect themselves, and something could happen to take them away from you!  Therefore, a husband can’t be a reliable source of security for you.

I believe we would benefit by frequently meditating on 3 particular Bible verses.  They are great reminders of how God sees us and who He is to us.  The first one is a reminder that He loves us and even delights in us!  This verse portrays the picture of a loving father tenderly cradling his daughter in his arms.  Here is the verse.  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”   Close your eyes and picture God smiling at you as he holds you.  Hear him whispering those words to you.  Ah. So good. 

The second verse reveals that God is our loving father, so even if your own parents have let you down, God will remain faithful!  Psalm 27:10  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.   God will never leave you!  This makes me feel so much more secure.  And the third verse reveals God as our husband and protector.  Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name.  Wow! The maker of heaven and earth, the commander of heaven’s army of angels is your husband.  Relax.  He will take care of you.  Yes!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

New approach to resolving conflict

It’s natural during disagreements with your husband to believe you’re right, he’s wrong, and you must convince him of that!  However, if you stay stuck in that mindset, the battle only heats up.  He gets defensive.  You get defensive.  Usually, the situation either evolves into yelling and ugly accusations or a silent, but deadly cold war.  There is a better way, and it begins with rethinking your end goal.

What if your goal was not to “win” the argument or change his mind?  What if the goal was to reach a compromise or solution that addresses the biggest concerns of you both?  Seriously. Think about it. Now you both win and there are no losers.  This means that you both agree to consider the other person’s perspective, fears, values, and concerns.  From there, you begin to present ideas that might address both of your main concerns.  Philippians 2:4 reminds us “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

So, the next time you and your husband start to have a significant disagreement, suggest that you would like to sit down together and better understand his perspective and concerns.  Then gently share your concerns, and ask him to join you in brainstorming a solution or compromise that would be the best fit for both of you.

This is toxic in relationships

We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all betrayed others.  I can almost guarantee this is true for all of us, although we only seem to remember the times when we’ve been betrayed.  We conveniently “forget” the times we’ve betrayed others, in big and small ways.

Here’s the thing.  When we allow our focus to remain on the deeply hurtful things people have done to us, it’s as if we tie a heavy chain around our ankles and toss ourselves into a deep, dark lake.  We slowly sink deeper and deeper into murky darkness.  We’re starved for life-giving oxygen.  We slowly drown in self-pity.  We become enveloped by resentment and that resentment becomes a poison to us and everyone around us!

Cut the chains of bitterness and resentment!  Come up for air.  Drop the “victim” attitude.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:15 to “see to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many”.  Your choice to embrace and coddle your bitterness will surely be the death of your joy and the joy of those around you.

How can you get rid of this super destructive attitude of resentment? Here are some insights. Stop hitting the replay button on past hurts!  Choose this day to be thankful for what you do have.  Make a choice to have compassion on your offender, realizing that you’re not perfect either!  If the resentment stems from current behavior, then seek godly counsel on establishing boundaries in that relationship.  Finally, ask God to redeem your painful experience in some kind of way.  He loves to do that!  Romans 8:28 promises us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Perfectionists have 2 problems

There have been so many times that I have lost my cool over a trivial mistake I’ve made!  I beat myself up and feel disgusted with myself. Perhaps you’ve done the same thing a time or two.  What makes the situation even worse is then we become a grump around our husband and children. Because we have worked ourselves into a foul mood, it infects them as well. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we need to be able to laugh at some of our mistakes.

Sometimes, we take ourselves too seriously!! Often, we feel we have to be “right” all the time.  Many times in the past, my pride has kept me from being able to laugh at myself when I made an error.  How about you?  Are you too serious?  Are you a perfectionist? 

These days, I’m trying to let go of my pride and admit I’m a human being who isn’t perfect 100% of the time!  You know what I’ve found?  Everyone, including my family members, seems to like me better.   Humility is such an attractive quality.  Psalm 18:27 says “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.”  Let’s work on being humble this week.  When we mess up, and we will, let’s LOL.  For those of you who still don’t know how what LOL means, that stands for “laugh out loud”.  *Hope you’re laughing at yourself right now 🙂  Get it?

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

How to drop the weight of comparisons

It is so incredibly easy to get out of balance as a wife, a mother, an employee, a ministry leader, a homemaker, a boss, etc.  We can let our “roles” consume us.  We compare ourselves to other women in those roles and feel we’re somehow lacking.  Then we start picking up self-help books, we google “how to become a better __________”, we attend classes and workshops, we beat ourselves up for not being as “good” as other women, we relentlessly push ourselves to be better!  And the whole time, we push our relationship with God farther and farther away.  I mean, who even has time for God when we are completely focused on being the best ___________.

Sometimes we need to pull back and refocus our attention and adoration on God.  We need to readjust our heart posture.  We need to go back to square one and spend time worshiping the creator of the universe…the one who created you!  Colossians 3:1-2 says “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

I find when I spend time worshiping God and spending some quiet moments just sitting with Him, I gain a whole new perspective on what’s important.  I am better able to choose how to use my limited time and energy.  I don’t feel so driven to compete with the other wives and moms and ministry leaders.  Spend 10 minutes every day this week simply worshiping God.  Crank up the worship music if that helps.   As you focus on the majesty and love of Christ, you will develop a heart posture that brings balance….and peace.

How to avoid “crazy cycle” in marriage

In every marriage, there will certainly be times where you find yourself disappointed or frustrated with your husband.  The question isn’t…how can you and I avoid those challenging times?  The question is…how are we going to respond to the challenge?

I’ve met many wives who allow themselves to sink into self-pity or get all riled up with anger toward their husband.  Neither one of those responses is helpful!  In fact, a crazy cycle begins in the marriage.  The wife lets her husband know how disappointed she is in him…he feels like a failure so he either responds with mean words or withdraws…she gets even more disappointed…and the cycle continues!  Please allow me to suggest a couple of new ways to look at those times when your husband has frustrated or disappointed you:

Instead of focusing solely on what he’s doing wrong, choose to rejoice in what he’s doing right.  This is the essence of Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  In other words, instead of developing a sour taste in your mouth by dwelling on his every fault, choose to look at your husband as a work in progress.  God doesn’t transform a person overnight (including you!).  So, choose to relish in the sweetness of every good thing your husband does and every good choice he makes.  For your soul, it will be like sipping on sweet lemonade instead of sucking on bitter lemons.

P.S.  You’ll look a lot more attractive to your husband when your mouth isn’t puckered up like you’ve been sucking on sour lemons!

P.S.S. If your husband is WAY out of bounds with his behavior and actually sinning against you, you may need to establish some firm boundaries, while at the same time choosing to remind yourself of his good qualities as well!