Although we may approach conflicts differently, talking through issues is equally important for men and women. So how can couples talk through their problems in an effective manner?
Dr. Linda Mintle says we have to learn skills that we aren’t necessarily comfortable with, but are based on scripture and will help us handle conflict in an effective manner.
“A really good place to begin is when you’re so uncomfortable with something, you know you need to talk to somebody and you know it’s going to be tough, probably the very first place to begin is just to pray. I even suggest a lot of times that people pray together before they go into a conflict, especially husbands and wives.”
“If you’re really upset with that person and you grab their hand and start to pray, it really calms down the atmosphere in that room, and it really puts you in a different place. It’s hard to stay angry with somebody when you’re praying next to them, and in praying for them your anger tends to dissipate.”
Rather than waiting for our spouse to bring up an issue, Dr. Mintle says that we need to make the first move.
“If you’re upset by something, don’t wait for the other person to bring it up. In one of my books I talked about how only children fight about who goes first. So if we’re adults and we have an issue, rather than sitting back and simmering with that issue; trying to avoid that issue, or denying the importance of that issue, just force yourself to make a first move.”
After we have brought an issue to our spouse’s attention, we need to lay down our pride and take responsibility for the part that we played in the conflict.
“The reason we don’t do that a lot of times I think is it’s found in Proverbs 13:10 where it says, ‘Pride only leads to arguments.’ C.S. Lewis said, ‘Pride is a spiritual cancer and it eats up the very possibility of love and contentment, or even common sense.’ I think that’s so true in our relationships. Once we take responsibility, then it seems to calm things down.”
Dr. Mintle expands on the importance of responding to conflict in a biblical manner, rather than allowing our emotions to run rampant.
“Part of it is to really listen to what the other person is saying, and then speak the truth in love, which isn’t speaking it with an accusation, isn’t blaming, isn’t being critical of the other person, it’s simply saying here’s something that happened, here’s how I felt about that and I’m wondering if we can work out a solution. Then work on those solutions, rather than trying to change the other person.”
“That’s a nice little formula have to bring this to a real, practical way of approaching conflict. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy or comfortable, but it certainly is a way to push yourself forward to get to a point where you can actually talk about some solutions.”
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker and national expert on relationships and the psychology of food, weight and body image. With 30 years of clinical experience working with couples, families and individuals, she brings her common sense approach to people who want to live in positive mental health. The Dr. Linda Mintle Show can be heard on Faith Radio.