Who in the world enjoys confronting someone when there’s a problem? Neither 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? What do you do when you know there needs to be a marital confrontation?
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).
It’s ironic that WE would want to be treated in a gentler matter, yet many times when WE confront our spouse we can be harsh and blunt about it rationalizing, “Well, they deserve this because they hurt me!” The Bible tells us that “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (Proverbs 15:28). Our words may not be evil but are they kind and compassionate (as we would want our spouse to be to us)?
We’re also told in the Bible, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction“ (Proverbs 16:23). “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11).
As far as Marital Confrontation Remember:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen“ (Ephesians 4:29). Make sure what you say will “benefit” your marriage and your spouse. Ask yourself, “What difference will this thing we’re fighting about make in ten years? In one year? In a month?” If it will make no difference, then consider if it’s important enough to even bring it up.
But if you’re sure it’s important to confront your spouse about a particular matter, remember that the Bible tells us that “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” That can be also true in how we approach our spouse over any situation that’s important to us. If we come in with both guns blazing, we’ll usually only succeed in getting shot back. But if we soften our approach, “speaking the truth in love” our spouse will have more of a tendency to receptive to listen and interact in a productive way.
As far as Marital Confrontation, also remember:
• Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
• While it’s critical to find the truth about issues affecting your marriage, relationship is always more important than issues. You are partners, not prosecutors. That partnership doesn’t end when you discuss sensitive topics. (Rob Jackson) Love aims at unity.
• Never let the problem to be solved become more important than the person to be loved. (Barbara Johnson)
• You can be right, but wrong at the top of your voice. (Emerson Eggerichs)
Lastly, the following is something that relationship expert, Gary Smalley had posted on one of his past web sites (he has had many). This advice might better guide you when it’s necessary for you to confront your spouse:
Here are three principles that outline a way to gently confront:
The other person is far more apt to receive your comments when he or she hears them expressed through these principles:
1. Learn to express your feelings through three loving attitudes: warmth, empathy, and sincerity. These are common words, but what do they mean? Warmth is the friendly acceptance of a person. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with a person’s feelings. Sincerity is showing a genuine concern for a person without changing your attitude toward him when circumstances change.
2. Learn to share your feelings when angry or irritated without using “you” statements and instead replacing them with “I feel” statements.
3. Learn to wait until your anger or feelings of irritability have subsided before you begin to discuss a sensitive issue.
No one likes to be criticized, regardless of how much truth lies behind the criticism. Whether, we are male or female, six or sixty, when someone corrects us, we automatically become defensive.
Yet honest communication is vital to any relationship. These two basic truths appear contradictory. How do you honestly tell the one you love about something you find displeasing or aggravating without prompting, that familiar, defensive glare or indifferent shrug?
Lord, help me express myself in such a way that my loved one knows deeply of my love and care.
To help you further with this issue and other communication problems you may be having search around our web site and see what we have posted that you can use. We even have a list of Scriptures on Communication in the Communication and Conflict topic that you may want to go through together.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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