A More Productive Question

Every married couple faces times of disagreement, which sometimes turns into an argument. In our HomeBuilders class, we like to call these “intense fellowships.” You can’t avoid it. It happens. Sometimes, it can even be productive.

Unfortunately, a lot of couples get stuck asking the wrong question when they find themselves at odds with each other. And when the wrong question is asked, you find yourself on this cyclical mess with no solution in sight.

Then bitterness sets in. Our actions begin to reflect our unforgiving hearts and our marriages suffer because of it. By the way, if you have children, they know when things are not right between mom and dad. Mark it down, you just hurt them, too!

We’ve all heard it before, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Well, when it comes to conflict resolution in marriage, I must say that there is one very dumb question. This question is often the first thing that comes to our minds and we begin to zero in on it with laser accuracy.

You may be asking, “What’s the dumb question?”

Well, here it is.

Are you ready?

You may have asked it before and if so, knock it off!

The question that seems productive when resolving conflicts is…

Who’s fault is it?

Have you ever asked that question before in the middle of an argument? I know, Mr. Husband, you’re just trying to collect the facts. I know Mrs. Wife, you’re just trying to “talk it out.” But you know the general reaction we all have to that question.

We get defensive. We get sensitive. Our egos are hurt (yes, ladies, you have egos, too, the Bible calls it “pride”).

What do you mean, “Who’s fault is it? Well, it your fault, of course!” There’s no communication and no resolution. Offenses remain unconfessed, apologies are unsaid, and joy is sucked out of the home!

May I suggest a more productive question? The fact is this: it is someone’s fault, otherwise you wouldn’t be arguing. But the answer to that question is not as helpful as the answer to this more productive question:

What can I do to help or fix it?

Unless you’re keeping score in your marriage (which is a very bad idea), it really doesn’t matter to you who’s fault it is. What matters is that your spouse feels and knows you want to make things better. Asking this more productive question places you on that path.

One of my mentors used to say it this way, “Always take the position of a humble servant.” And you know what, he’s right!

A servant doesn’t ask, “Who’s fault is this?” A servant isn’t looking to assign blame. All he cares about is how to make things better by being a help.

My marriage and yours can be strengthened by having a servant’s heart. It definitely helps when it comes to conflict resolution because a servant isn’t concerned about who messed up and who didn’t; their heart is always to help.

So, are you in the middle of one of those “intense fellowships” with your spouse? Don’t stay there! Stop asking the wrong question, “who’s fault is it?” Rather ask a more productive question, “what can I do to help or fix it?”

The sooner you ask, the quicker you’ll get to that peaceful, lovely, and joyful marriage you had before the argument. And if you have kids, they’ll appreciate that!

Diffusing a Potentially Dangerous Conversation

Have you ever had one of those conversations with your spouse when you found yourself a few steps ahead. As you pondered where this conversation could go, you quickly “tapped on the brakes” to avoid a heavier and potentially more dangerous conversation.

We’ve all been there.

Maybe you didn’t mean to be short with your spouse. She may have had a bad day or he could have just had an office confrontation. Maybe you forgot that it’s a special day!

And off we go, down the dangerous conversation cliff!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You see, conversations can be like time bombs. You’re racing against the clock. Your spouse is about ready to lose it because “you’re not hearing me” or “you’re being an insensitive and inconsiderate jerk!” And like a member of the bomb squad, you’re faced with the question, “Should I cut the blue wire or the red one?”

Tick. Tick. Tick.

A potentially dangerous conversation can be diffused in by exercising two attributes. So the next time you hear the ticking, time bomb of your potentially dangerous conversation, try exercising these: patience and playfulness.

Patience

Have you ever been there? You’re listening to your spouse and you have a retort to her points or a response to her frustrations or maybe even a solution to her problems. Can I give you some good advice?

Stop! Listen. Then listen some more.

You won’t believe how many conversations went from good to bad to worse to a World War simply because someone couldn’t exercise a little patience. You don’t have to say (at least right away) what comes to your mind. Besides, I’ve learned (unfortunately through experience) that my eagerness to speak fuels the fires of frustration. Have patience.

Also, in regards to patience, sometimes we just need to cut our spouse some slack. After all, they’re not perfect. And trust me, there’s going to come a day when you’ll expect your spouse to be patient with you. So be patient with him/her.

Playfulness

Can I just be honest? Sometimes some arguments are just plain silly! Sometimes it’s good to just get it out of our system, listen to ourselves talk, then realize how big of a mountain we are making this molehill. And when that realization hits us, it’s play to laugh. Really!

Be careful about this point, however. Comedic timing is a must when inserting humor in a potentially dangerous conversation. But I’ve found that sometimes, laughing at the situation helps calm everyone, which gives us a better state of mind to sold the problem.

I’m guessing that sometime this week, you’ll have a potentially dangerous conversation. Diffuse it properly. Don’t let it blow up in your face. A proper spirit will enable you to “cut the right wire” and save your marriage from unnecessary shrapnel.

Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 2

Let’s continue to look at how we can be a more romantic spouse.

Make a Big Deal of Special Days. This means saying, “Happy Birthday,” or “Happy Anniversary” on the days they actually occurred. The other day, someone I know talked to their spouse three times on the phone before realizing that it was their birthday. Ouch! I understand that you may not celebrate it that day but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something or at the very least, say something. Let me say, too, that forgetfulness is not an excuse. With electronic calendars, reminder apps, smartphones, and computers, there’s plenty of ways to keep track of these special days.

Anticipate Your Spouse’s Needs. Gentlemen, especially, don’t wait until your wife has to drop hints (which we often miss) to do something for her. It’s amazing how many arguments can be eliminated by simply meeting our spouse’s needs. I love how David’s mighty men risked their lives just to get him water from a well in Bethlehem. Pay attention during conversations and learn to anticipate what your spouse may need or want.

The other day I got a big kiss from my wife that surprised me. I simply filled out her supplement container. I had a few extra minutes and decided to do something she typically does for both of us. Guess what, if I keep getting surprised that way, I’m looking for more needs to meet!

Learn How Your Spouse Wants To Be Loved. This may sound strange but not everyone enjoys being loved the same way. I suppose the best way to describe this is by citing Dr. Gary Chapman’s Book, The Five Love Languages. For years I rebelled against this book because I thought it was hogwash that you could box in the way you express your love. After being married a few years, I decided to read it again. And boy, was I wrong! The premise of the book it this: there are love languages each person usually speak and it is how they desire to receive love. The love languages are physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time. Each person likes for love to be expressed to them specifically in one or a combination of these languages. Which brings me back to the point of learning how your spouse wants to be loved. One of the best ways to know is to observe how he/she expresses love. If he loves to demonstrate affection through physical contact, more than likely he wants it reciprocated in the same manner. If she loves to give gifts, then she probably enjoys receiving them, too. The exception to these rules is if they have discovered your love language and is seeking to express their love to you. Talk about it and learn how you want love expressed in your marriage.

 

Eye Contact and Full Attention. When your spouse is speaking to you (especially when it’s a serious conversation), turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet, and give him/her your undivided attention. One of the surest ways to manifest this is through eye contact. Look into your spouse’s eyes. Think about it, what’s more romantic? A husband gazing into his wife’s eye and saying, “I love you.” Or a husband watching TV or playing Temple Run and saying to his wife, “I love you.” We live in such a multimedia, multi-sensory world that we don’t take the time to just slow down and focus. Don’t be so A.D.D when your spouse is speaking to you. Frankly, many couples have drifted apart due to a lack of focus and full attention. On date nights or late night conversations, stare into their eyes and give full attention.

What If We Gave Everyone a Second Chance?

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A woman in Guthrie, Oklahoma had her wallet stolen while shopping, but instead of turning in the culprit, she saw an opportunity for kindness. Jessica Eaves realized her wallet had been taken by a man a few aisles over from her in a local grocery store, but she didn’t call the authorities. Instead, she approached him directly.  Continue reading

Good Habits to Develop – Part 5, Striving Together

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The problem with the label independent, fundamental Baptist is that many often emphasize the “independent” rather than the “fundamental.” This mindset often leads to an isolationist-type ministry, acting like the depressed Elijah as he moaned about being the “only one” still serving God. Elijah made it possible for a statement to be both depressing and arrogant. What an accomplishment!

Continue reading

Enemies of the Home

Did you know that in 2011, the Defense Department accounted for 19 percent of the United States federal spending? That’s $700,000,000! As far as the world is concerned, the United States of America possesses the most powerful military force in the world. Other than Medicare and Medicaid (23%) and Social Security (20%), our country spent more money on fighting wars, defending our borders, and developing new technologies to protect its citizens.

Whether all or a great portion of that money was used for those purposes, we will never know. But one truth is evident, we consider the security of our country to be a priority based on the amount of funding that goes to the Defense Department.

If we are willing to spend $700,000,000 to protect our country from enemies both foreign and domestic, what’s the price you’re willing to pay to fight off the enemies of your home?                

The Bible tells us that Satan is “walketh about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Our major enemy, the terrorizer of God’s children, is Satan himself. He, along with his legion of demons, are in full attack mode and would love nothing more than to destroy our homes. He is working tirelessly to wreck our testimony, ruin our lives, and limit our effectiveness for our Saviour.

He causes us to question the Word of God, he encourages us to trust our hearts, and he is continually dividing our families. Satan wants us to accept a lie, deny the truth, and live in a society where we demand our rights!

He uses media – the internet, social networking, technology, printed press, TV and movie programs.

He uses music – rock & roll, country, R & B, rap, easy listening, and Christian contemporary genres.

He uses people – family members, distant relatives, fellow church members, unsaved co-workers, and various influential leaders (authors, artists, and athletes).

Satan is strategically blowing our homes down like a midwestern tornado. And despite the devastation he brings through wounded lives and broken homes, Christians have foolishly “lived on” as if nothing has happened.

Just as our government has set aside $700 million for the defense of our country, it is time that families realizes that there is a great cost (I choose to call it an investment) when it comes to protecting our families from the enemies of the home. Granted, the price is high. Nothing ever worth having is free except for our salvation (even though that was free to us it was not to Jesus).

Are you willing to pay the price? Do you love your family enough to sacrifice what is needed for their well-being?

Though I do not have an alarm system for our home, I have other means to protect those in my home. Their names are Mossberg, Walther, and Springfield! They weren’t free but I was willing to pay for it if it meant having the peace of mind that should an intruder enter our home, I have the means to protect my family.

What have you “purchased” spiritually to protect your home from Satan and his demons? What measures have you taken to ward off his attacks?

If you are a part of a good church, I have no doubt that the preaching and teaching ministry of your church has done much to challenge you to set up your defenses and to prepare for the fight with the Wicked One. By the way, most of the counseling that Christians need can be received from the pulpit and teaching lecterns of good Bible-preaching churches. If you are not a part of a church that faithfully teaches the Bible “line upon line, precept upon precept” then you better find one and fast!

With that said, it would be foolish not to heed the biblical advice and instruction we hear from the our preachers and teachers. As they teach about the different enemies of the home and how the Bible says we can defeat each one, may I encourage you to be:

  1. Humble and teachable– don’t come to church or your Sunday school or adult Bible class thinking you know it all or having an “I’ve head this before attitude.” Pride will surely bring you and your family low.
  2. Open and changeable– some lessons will hurt. Consider it the purging power of the Holy Spirit. Accept it, learn from it, and apply it to your life, as well as your family’s.
  3. Thankful and humble– perhaps next to the holiness of Christ, His humility was His greatest attribute. Which is why we begin and end with being humble. The victories we receive as we battle with the enemies of our homes will come from God alone. The battle is His! Thank Him for the wins that come along the way.

If you knew that an enemy was coming, wouldn’t you prepare? Wouldn’t you spend time fortifying your home and setting up defenses to both discourage and defeat the enemy? Stay in church, read your Bible daily, pray, listen to preaching, and apply the scriptural admonitions to defeat the enemies of your home.

How Ought Christians Vote?

In just a few days all across the nation, millions of   people will line up at the polls to cast their votes for the midterm election. I understand that God is sovereign and that whatever the outcome, He’ll still be on His throne. However as Christians, we have a duty to vote– not for our conveniences but by our convictions. I love what Noah Webster said regarding our right and responsibility to vote:

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character. . . . When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor, he betrays the interest of his country.”

“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” 

The Bible is clear, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Proverbs 29:2. As you head to the polls, ask yourself this question, “What do these candidates think of our God, our Bible, our Constitution, and our country?” The answer to these questions will quickly reveal who should get our vote!