Category Archives: Conflict Resolution

Stumbling in the Darkness

darkness

Why is it that so often couples come into my office, there marriage a wreck, without a clue about what to do about it?  They are totally lost, hopeless and helpless with regards to what direction to go.  “How did we get like this?” is a very common phrase that echoes off the walls of my office.  My question for them,“ Why did you wait so long to address this situation?”

Marriages do not dissolve overnight.  Generally it takes an extended period of frustration to erode the foundation of a marital commitment.  Why the procrastination?  Let me share a little allegory that might give insight into the consequences of poor decision-making…

Once upon a time there was a man.  This man was enjoying a 3D movie in the privacy of his home theater.  Needless to say, the room was darkened as the glare from the movie screen lite up the room.  Suddenly, there was the sound of the telephone coming from the other room.  Annoyed, the man rose to his feet, crossed to the end of the couch, around a small padded leather child’s theater seat then past another, making his way to the screen in order to cross to the door leading out of the theater.  He passed another child’s chair, maneuvered past the wooden, cinema poster decorated coffee table, finally opening the door and exiting the theater.  In a hurry to get to the phone, he didn’t even bother to stop the video or turn on the house lights.  In fact, in his rush it never occurred to him to remove the 3D glasses he was wearing.  After all he was coming right back, no need to bother with that!  As one would expect, by the time he reached the phone the ringing stopped.  The call was obviously not important enough for the caller to leave a message.  With a sigh of frustration, he turned back around a headed toward the theater…

Is anyone predicting a problem?

…rushing back into the theater our main character does not take into account the eye adjustment required when leaving a brightly-lite room into a darkened theater, to say nothing of the fact that, don’t forget, he is still wearing those 3D glasses he was too lazy to remove.  He crosses the screen, blinded by the intense light from the projector, eyes that are still trying to adjust, and unable to see through the darkness before him, the poor sap bumps the coffee table at the front of the theater.  This one action triggers a ballet of disaster!  He tumbles forward, curves to the left, hoping to regain balance.  He falls forward, bumping an end table next to a chair.  To compensate, he pulls back, tripping on the chair which causes him to completely loose his footing.  Mind you, he hasn’t hit the ground yet.  The situation resembles a giant pinball machine; he is the ball that is bouncing from one furniture item to the next.  Now it’s too late to stop the inevitable.  Down he comes, crashing on the side arms of the child’s padded leather theater seat.  THUD! As he quickly discovers, the padding does a rather poor job of covering the solid wood frame of the chair.  Rolling off the chair he feels the pain as the end table crashes upon him, pelting him with the heavy ceramic coasters that adorned the table.  CRASH!  Lying on his back, a painful groan is the only thing that cuts through the dialog being spoken on the screen.  Now he feels it appropriate to remove the glasses that in all the commotion, as if to mock him, refused to fall off on their own.  The consequence of these little decisions included two broken ribs, several bruises and many weeks of painful recovery.  I’m sure that most of you predicted nothing but bad possibilities in the previous scenario.  I wish I had the moment the phone rang.

This is often how we conduct our marriages.  Here are a few helpful tips to promote healing in your relationship:

Turn on the lights!  We need to be realistic about the issues that face the marriage and stop ignoring reoccurring problems.  They will NOT resolve themselves.  You also need to accept responsibility for the areas in which YOU have done damage to your spouse.

Don’t be lazy, take off the 3D glasses!  It is important to consider the negative consequences if the marriage continues down its current path.  Try to imagine a clear image of what your marriage could be.  It’s harder to regain your balance once bad behavior, negative marital attitudes and resentments have become a way of life.

Stop the movie for a minute and tend to the business at hand!  Look toward the future.  Don’t be so focused on the problems of the present that you forget to prioritize what your marriage CAN be if you put forth the effort.  You’ll need to rebuild the relationship a step at a time, don’t think you can do it all at once, there are wound that need to heal.

Too many obstacles in a dark room create a nightmarish maze that is bound to trip you up!  You need a clear path.  Sometimes that takes a third party to help you both sift through the hindrances in your relationship.  Clear out the junk!  In many cases, small adjustment made sooner than later can eliminate a catastrophe down the road.  A good counselor who shares your world view can help you through that process.  Here is a great resource of counselors in your area:

http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

You will also find many other resources that will help you to propel your marriage forward.  Feel free to have a look around.  Take the steps necessary to begin your journey to the marriage that you’ve always wanted, the marriage that you signed up for.

Be Blessed.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Commitment, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Counseling, Expectations, Priorities, Restoration, Unity

LOVE and Our Emotional State

Key

Let’s take a journey down memory lane. In all likelihood, the following scripture was recited at your own wedding. Let’s revisit as I share a well kept secret,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.        1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Do you notice anything unusual about this passage of scripture? Note that it is all action driven, contrary to what our society would have you believe. Lasting love is not emotionally fueled, although feelings are certainly produced. What this tells me is that a healthy, long-lasting and loving relationship is based on my desire to put forth the necessary efforts to keep it healthy. I do not determine my effort by what I feel like doing.  Oh, yes I know, that’s NOT really a secret.  But you’d think it was!

Bill comes home after a grueling day at the office; nothing came off as planned. His head wouldn’t stop pounding. His computer was being its normal stubborn self. The traffic on the way home was horrendous. In general, Bill feels lousy. He pulls into the driveway and walks up to the front door. Now Bill has a decision to make. He has a choice. He can walk through the front door and meet his family behaving exactly how he feels—cranky, agitated, and aggressive, dumping that anger on his wife.

How do you think that delightful presentation will be received? She will shoot back with both barrels, taking all of Bill’s behaviors in a personal way. After all, she is the new target of his aggression. What alternative does she have? He attacked her. That just makes Bill angrier, so he escalates the confrontation. His voice increases in volume, and maybe he throws down his briefcase for dramatic effect. Offended, she comes right back at him. So the conflict escalates right up the scale! Bill’s feelings dictated his behavior, to his disadvantage, and the unfortunate recipients were his family.

Here’s an alternative scenario. Bill stands at the door, feeling lousy but aware of it. He decides that regardless of how he feels, he is going to demonstrate love and affection toward his wife and family. Bill enters his home and gives his wife a kiss and tells her how much he loves her. How do you think that reception will be met? If she is monitoring her behavior (maybe she had a rough day with the kids, etc.) the odds are great that she will respond to her husband’s loving display and reciprocate. That will affect Bill’s emotional state in a positive fashion, actually reducing some of the aggression. Then he reciprocates and back and forth it goes. Bill begins to feel those negative emotions dissipate.

You might say to yourself, that’s just being fake! No, it is you doing what is right by your spouse, which in the end has the potential for great benefit for you. Do you enjoy conflict in your relationship? Keeping your feelings in check is a very practical way of facilitating that goal.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.       – James 3:17-18

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Love

Say What You May, Marriage Still Sets the Best Example to Children

Children imitating parents

Modeling a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give your children, who in all likelihood will take the same journey as their parents.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.     – Malachi 2:15

I’ve heard the story countless times.  The marriage is struggling with countless issues, none of which ever seem to get addressed.  They continue down the same road, “Today was a pretty good day, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and not make waves.”  Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose as the verbal assaults fly with zero regard to the little ears that are taking in all of the turmoil.  The little ears that are internalizing the events and coming to only one conclusion, “I must be responsible (or at least partially) for the constant fighting that takes place between my mommy and daddy.”  Young children are very egocentric, everything revolves around their perception of the events in life.  Afterall, they only have a few years of experience to draw from.

What example are you setting in your marriage? Sons look to their fathers to learn how a man is to behave. Daughters watch their mothers very closely to determine the best ways to interact with the opposite sex. If petty bickering, infidelity, verbal abuse, and constant talk of divorce is your model, you will see the same patterns on display in their own relationships. Children learn well and will follow your example if they don’t choose to do something about it. Consider: how often do you respond based on the example that you were shown growing up? As parents, we are always being observed. Remember that!

I encourage you mom and dad, get the help you need.  Put aside the past and focus on the future.  Get a mediator who is interested less in your individual “happiness” and more on the success of your marriage, which will produce far more than a situational emotional response.  Doing the work, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the issues that resist resolution are essential and will go far in protecting your legacy to the future.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Get a counselor who shares your values and has the best interest of you, as a couple, at heart.  Here is a great place to start!  Find a counselor in your area:

The American Association of Christian Counselors website @ http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Conflict Resolution, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Parenting, Role Modeling, Unity

Being Bullied: It’s Not Just For Children

Bullying

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

My current post is a bit off the beaten path. I received an email from an adult female expressing a very real (and all too common concern) that she has been experiencing. After obtaining her permission, she has allowed me to share the email and my response in hopes that it may help someone else who is dealing with a similar situation. To her I say, “Thank You,” as she does her part to fulfill Proverbs 27:17

“Hi Pastor Eric I need some advice. I seem to be getting bullied and as funny as that sounds, I don’t know how to handle it “God’s way”. I noticed it with my husband’s sister and co-workers. They would do stuff to me on purpose and because I don’t know how to respond in a way that would be pleasing to God, I don’t say anything. I can honestly say I understand why people commit suicide because of being bullied. I used to bully a girl in my B.C. (before Christ) days, so is this my weakness now. I feel I can’t respond to them because it’s not going to come out nice and I don’t want to later apologize for any rude behavior. I need some advice on what to do because I feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits.”     – Anonymous

Throwing in the towel IS NOT an option for those who have their strength from God but, I do understand the feelings. This simply requires some assertiveness on your part. Remember, they are probably being consistent in their behavior. Being rude should not be an option for you, you’ll just look (and feel) like a jerk and nothing will be accomplished. These situations call for us to do what is right. Be civil, but firm.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  – Proverbs 29:11

There is certain behavior that you should not tolerate because it is disrespectful to you. Before approaching the issue, I would recommend you take it under prayerful consideration. Ask the Lord to show you how you may be provoking this type of behavior in others (bad attitude, sarcasm, teasing others, etc.). Assess yourself first and make sure your motives are pure. The Lord will guide you in the direction to go.

In the practice of assertiveness, I would let them know that you do not appreciate such behavior (Assuming you don’t treat them with equal disregard) and you do not treat them in such a manner. Do not be preachy or condescending; simply express how you feel about it (without demonstrating those feelings). If the behavior continues, it is time to set some boundaries. You might need to share the situation with your supervisor or minimize your interactions with the offending party. If the offender is family, make sure you share the situation with your husband, it’s important that he is aware (he can only support you in what he knows) so that you do not appear irrational in your behavior.

I am not of the opinion that you are “reaping what you’ve sewn”. You have grown since your pre-Christian days (or you wouldn’t even be bothering to ask the question in the first place! The Holy Spirit is speaking to you, wanting you to do the right thing (more evidence of growth). Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you are called to be intentional in your actions. In other words, don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior; choose to behave in a Godly manner in spite of what you may be feeling about the person or the circumstance.

I would also encourage you to keep these folks in your prayers; obviously they have damage that drives such behaviors and need healing as well. This is a good place to start. Keep your feelings under control and do not simply react. Think about your presentation before you approach these people. Ask yourself, “How would I respond if someone spoke to me the way that I am about to speak to them?” Adjust your presentation accordingly. Do not even broach the subject if you are feeling intense feelings of anger or frustration, it will not go well!

I pray that God is with you as you address these circumstances. Remember, you are not in this alone. Be blessed!
– Pastor Eric

A few days later came a follow-up message:

“Good morning Pastor Eric! I just had to share this with you! I got prayed for by a pastor visiting my church. He told me, “Not to fear, it’s not part of my personality…” I love that he threw that in there. It was so encouraging to hear this reminder that He is with me.

 Well, last night I get a text message at 12:00am from the coworker that I have been having all my problems with, the one that has been treating me so rudely.  She sent me a link to an encouraging video and added. “Sorry, I know you are sleeping, but I’m trying so hard to seek God. This is what I do (referring to the link), listen to the Word at night.” She said that her mom and brother attend church and are praying for her as well. This was so powerful to me that it caused walls to be broken down! I can’t express how excited I am that she reached out to me! I am so grateful that I didn’t respond to her in a negative way prior to this. Glory be to God! Thank you for your encouragement and simply being there pastor.”     -Anonymous

Important take-away, one never knows what others are struggling with or how God is trying to work in them. It is in the best interest of God to be obedient and submissive to his authority. There is great danger in taking on the role of accuser, jury, judge and executioner. Seek Him first and asses our own behavior and motivations before we act. Let your emotional drive take a back seat to your display of godly behavior. It’s better to be used by God to lift someone up rather than used by the enemy to tear someone down.  There is much to be learned by all, thank you Lord for teaching us.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Assertiveness, Behavior, Bullying, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Obedience, Respect

“Time-Out!”

Time out

A couple once came in to see me, and early in our discussion the wife told me about her husband’s favorite coping mechanism. When the conflict reached a certain level he would simply shut down. He would turn around and leave the house without a word. He would get into his truck and drive off in anger. He would be gone for hours, sometimes staying away all night. His wife would get so frustrated, and nothing ever got resolved. I stored that information until God opened up the perfect opportunity.

A little later into our talk the wife was again sharing about how he walked out on her whenever the conversation got heated. The husband was demonstrating great frustration, and so I asked him, “Tell me, what are you feeling right know? I see a great deal of emotion.” He just shook his head. “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Whenever—” I got up mid-sentence and without a word stepped out of my office, closing the door behind me. I waited just outside my office for about two minutes then reentered the room and took my seat. The look on his face was intense. Every muscle in his face was pulled tight. The anger was evident. I caught a look at the wife out of the corner of my eye, and she was beaming. Paraphrased for the more sensitive readers, the husband said, “Next time, don’t even bother talking to me if you don’t want to know what I have to say!”

I paused for dramatic effect. “Now you know exactly how your wife feels every time you do the same to her.” He took it in for a second and then he got it. He understood exactly what he had been doing to his wife.

Even when it is necessary to take a time-out so that you don’t lose control and say something you shouldn’t, communication doesn’t end. Express what you are feeling: “You know, I can feel myself getting angry, and I don’t want to say something I’m going to regret. I love you, but I need to clear my head. Please give me about thirty minutes to take a walk around the block (and pray) and get myself together, and we will continue this conversation.” Partner, be gracious and allow your spouse the time they need. Don’t demand immediate resolution; you will be sorry for that decision if you do. On their return, continue the conversation and work toward a resolve.

How have your demands for “immediate resolution” to conflict been received in the past? Do you have a fear of conflict? From where does it stem? Do you think avoiding/escaping conflict benefits the relationship? What are some steps you might take to improve communication between you and your spouse?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Respect