Well, it is the weekend and here is part one of our two part marriage situation post. As always my comments will be normal and Paul’s will be bolded.
Here is the situation: We’d been married for 6 months, it’s Sunday morning, about ten minutes after we were supposed to have left for Sunday School. I’m sitting on the couch, dressed, but without any makeup on or hair done. Oh, and I’m crying (which accounts for the lack of makeup). (It occurred to me that Liz is crying in a lot of these posts. She really doesn’t cry all that often. Just remember that these posts are kind of the highlights of our less than stellar moments in life—just thought I’d clarify:-) Paul is standing on the other side of our tiny apartment saying something like, “I just want to go to church! Can you please stop and let’s just go!” and I answer with, “how can you not care how I feel right now?! You don’t understand me at all!” This state of conflict had started when I mentioned, in passing, my ongoing embarrassment over carrying a giant purse into church since, at that time, big purses were out and all the women in our SS class carried tiny, fashionable purses. Paul offhandedly responded with something along the lines of, “who cares what type of purse you carry, you should only worry about things that actually matter to God” and it went downhill from there. I took offense to his offhand remark and said something defensive. Paul bristled at my defensive comment and proceeded to give some short answer about how I never admit to any fault. Which infuriated me, which frustrated him, which made us both start lobbing verbal firebombs regarding each other’s specific flaws, general flaws and maybe (just maybe) some imagined flaws. In the end he was upset because he wasn’t able to go to church, and I was upset that he wanted to just go to church and leave everything unresolved. We both felt undervalued, misunderstood, angry and frustrated (because this wasn’t the first Sunday morning conflict : ).
Sound at all familiar? I’m sure that you as a couple can remember a similar situation in your own life. (And I bet some of those moments happened on a Sunday morning!)
As you might suppose, our title is tongue in cheek. Our goal for today and tomorrow’s posts is to describe a mental process that has proved invaluable for us in and around these kinds of situations. We want to focus on conversations that end (and maybe begin) with conflict in order to give some solid, biblical strategies. (Not that we are ignoring other types of conversations. Couples certainly need to have conversations often and on all sorts of topics. Most importantly, they need to talk about their relationships to God and each other. The conversations about God will help them both love him with direction (help give you mutual goals and purposes) and the conversations about themselves will increase their ability to accurately show love within their marriage.) But, all of that assumes that those conversations are generally profitable. So I want to focus on those conversations that…shall we say, easily escalate from a calm and routine to exasperating and unprofitable. Tomorrow I will post some principles that have helped Liz and I during those frustrating times of conflict.