Who in the world enjoys confronting someone when there’s a problem? Not either one of us —that’s for sure! And from the people we talk to, there aren’t too many others who do either. But what do you do when you have a problem and you NEED to confront your marital “partner” about it?
Did you notice that we said marital “partner?” We emphasize that because that’s what we’re supposed to be in our marriages. We’re supposed to interact with each other as “no longer two but one flesh” being “united” in how we conduct ourselves in our married life, not acting in ways that separate our marital unity. (See: Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:7-9.)
The biblical principle comes to mind to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, how would YOU want to be confronted if you were doing something you shouldn’t be doing? You (just like us) would probably want your spouse to be as gentle as possible. You/we may not LIKE to be confronted or to confront, but if it needs to be done, at least be gentle about it and allow the spouse’s dignity and feelings to remain in tact (to the degree they can be). Read more
“There are as many ways to fight as there are personalities. Some simmer; some explode; some attack head-on, and others blind-side. But two opposing familiar styles are what some call the CONFRONTER and the AVOIDER, or the ATTACKER and the RETREATER. Others label these approaches the expressive and the non-expressive.” (Jack and Carole Mayhall)
That’s what we’re going to be discussing in this marriage message: differing styles of disagreeing. Here’s what Chuck and Barb Snyder say about this subject:
“Usually the non-expressive (avoider or retreater) person will want to walk away from conflict, while the expressive (confronter or attacker) wants to talk about it, find out what’s wrong, and be friends again. Non-expressives do not want to talk about it, and believe that if they don’t, it will go away. They feel if they just let it alone, everyone will remain friends.”
That of course makes sense to the non-expressive person, but it frustrates the expressive person to no end and both are sure they’re right in all of this.
So how do we deal with it? That’s a good question. It’s one that Steve and I struggled with for many years and still do sometimes. At times we forget what we’ve been learning through the years and end up resorting to our old ways, which usually ends up in frustration until we remember to find ways to compromise.
So, for the rest of this message we want to inform (or remind) you of the different ways of approaching disagreements —that working together with our differing styles is the best way to approach this problem.
Here’s want Jack and Carole Mayhall from their book, “Opposites Attack” (no longer being published) has to say about CONFRONTERS vs. AVOIDERS: Read more
“What men fear most is criticism and rejection. That doesn’t mean that you can’t tell him anything —you can. But you have to look to see if how you’re doing it is working or not.” -Dr Phil McGraw
“Maybe you won’t get through to the other person as long as you keep approaching him the way you always do.” -Michael Nichols
Confronting each other when we have a problem can be most difficult, because if we don’t do it right we can make the situation even worse than before.
That’s why one of our dear friends calls confrontation in a relationship, such as marriage, “CARE-frontation,” because we’re to confront them in a caring way —speaking the truth in love.
On this subject, we’d like to share thoughts, written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey featured in their book, Moments Together For Couples: Devotions for Drawing Near to God and One Another, published by Regal Books. This particular sample devotion is called, “Reality Checks for Confrontations.” Please note, however, that we inserted appropriate scripture verses in brackets to further emphasize their excellent points. On this subject they wrote:
As important as it is to be able to lovingly confront your mate when you have a conflict, it is also important not to be judgmental. It’s essential that you don’t just see your spouse’s flaws while ignoring your own. Here are some reality checks Barbara and I have found useful: Read more