Originally published Monday, 01 October 2012.
Last Summer some of our FABulous readers sent in some great marriage questions. If you were one of those wonderful readers - THANK YOU! We SO appreciate those of you who write in and participate!
So! Drum roll please as we begin our monthly Marriage Expert Q & A segment with your great marriage questions :)
Today we've got the expert wisdom of a couple I absolutely adore! Pam and Bill Farrel have written and taught Biblical relationship tools for over 30 years in more than 30 titles. I've been a recipient of their very practical tips from their books and their personal mentoring! I am SO grateful for the way God flows through them! You can learn more about their ministry here; find out if they are speaking near you; get some of their freebies, or check out their many great Christian resources. I know you'll love them too!
Conflicts happen in every marriage! What are three practical things a couple can do when they face conflict to invite God into the middle of their issues?
In The Marriage Code we have a step by step plan for handling conflict, but let me share top 3 ideas here:
1. Pray “God show me what to say, God show me what to NOT say!” Then ONLY say those things- nothing more or less. Trust God to lead you.
2. Try to apply the power of God’s Spirit. We call it applying “the opposite”. If your mate is anxious, give him words of peace. If she is angry, act with joy and kindness. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but simply act differently by relying on God’s power to not get sucked into the vortex of negativity.
3. Ask your mate if he or she is ready to talk about what is upsetting him/her. Then set a time to discuss it when you are both better rested or less emotional. If things are not going well now, it is okay to defer the discussion to a later time. If you can’t solve an issue between just the two of you, it is good to ask for help from a mentor or counselor.
Is there ever a way conflict can work for your marriage instead of against it?
Definitely, conflict, if handled well can strengthen a marriage. You can find out deeper issues, hear about past pains what will explain why he or she might act certain ways, hear their deeper fears or hopes—conflict can be an open door to build a stronger more intimate marriage. The key is not to react but LISTEN.
A reader wrote in and said she often feels attacked by her in-laws. Her husband doesn’t stand up for her and while she doesn’t want to come between him and his parents she feels slighted that he doesn’t defend her a little more. What advice would you give this young wife?
When she is away from her in laws she could ask her husband something like this:
“Honey, I want both of us to have a great relationship with your parents and I feel a wall being built brick by brick by the hurtful things they are saying to me and about me. Could you help me know how to best handle this? My feelings are getting hurt not just by their comments but I am feeling alone when I am not sensing you stand up for me. I know you must feel caught in the middle. You and I are a couple now, we are building a family, so honey, as the leader of this family could you let me know what you think is OOUR best course of action to bring healing and a positive outcome to this situation.?” Don’t berate him, or pressure him. Try to give him time to think through his answer and you pray over the few days as he considers his answer and actions. If he is unwilling, then you may need to go to your in-laws and seek to build a relationship with them, but it is better if the two of you can be a united front. (The book, Boundaries, can be helpful).
Another reader wrote in and said that when big financial decisions come up they make their decision together, but usually someone feels slighted in the process. Even though the decision has been made, there is tension over it. In other areas of their marriage they argue and the conflict over finances spills into the other areas of their life. What advice can you give couples in this situation?
They need to get on the same money page. I recommend they do two things:
1. Take a Crown Ministry Financial concepts course or Financial Peace University. Learning about financial basics and gaining skills might lower stress. Sometimes earning more money or saving more money can be a practical help to lower stress.
2. They will also be helped by our money discussion and financial personality budget worksheet in The Marriage Code. Money is just a tool and each person has a money personality linked to their life motivation. If you better understand his or her motivation, it is less likely you will be angry at your mate and they way he or she spends money.
Thank you Bill and Pam for your great insights!
And to our readers, we hope these words of wisdom are a blessing to you and your marriage. Write in and share your thoughts with us here.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 May all your loving relationships overflow with the love of Christ.