When it comes to confrontation of a problem you are having with your spouse:
“What men [and many women] fear most is criticism and rejection. That doesn’t mean that you can’t tell him [or her] 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 [or her] the way you always do.” (Michael Nichols)
Confronting each other when we have a problem can be most difficult. That is because if we don’t approach confrontation 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.” This is 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 the subject of confrontation 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:
1. CHECK YOUR MOTIVATION.
Do you want to help or hurt by what you say? Will bringing this up lead to healing and oneness? Prayer is a good barometer of motivation. When you take your situation to God you can usually see your motivation for what it is.
[Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is that Head, that is, Christ. –Ephesians 4:15]
[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. -Philippians 4:29]
2. CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE.
Loving confrontation says: “I care about you. I respect you and I want you to respect me. I want you to know how I feel. But I want to know how you feel, too.” Don’t hop on your bulldozer and run your partner down. Don’t pull up in your dump truck and unload all your garbage. Approach your partner lovingly.
[Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. –Philippians 2:3]
3. CHECK THE CIRCUMSTANCES.
This includes timing, location and setting. The time for Barbara to confront me is not just as I walk in from a hard day’s work. I need to confront her sometime when she isn’t settling a squabble with the kids.
[A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. -Proverbs 25:11]
4. CHECK TO SEE WHAT OTHER PRESSURES MAY BE PRESENT.
Be sensitive to where your mate is coming from. What’s the context of his or her life right now?
[He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. -Proverbs 13:3]
[There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. -Proverbs 16:25]
5. BE READY TO TAKE IT AS WELL AS TO DISH IT OUT.
Sometimes confronting your mate can boomerang on you. Beware of what psychologists call “projecting” —seeing your own faults in others. You may start to give your spouse some “friendly advice” only to learn that the problem you are describing is actually your fault!
[A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2]
[And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3]
Think back to a confrontation that didn’t go especially well. Can you determine whether more attention to one or more of the above suggestions may have made a more fruitful discussion?
For the courage to confront and the love and self-awareness to keep such episodes as positive contributors to intimacy in your home.
The Bible tells us in Titus 3:2, to “Remind the people to …be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” And so please consider yourself reminded, as we’re remind ourselves, as husband and wife.
Please note, that we have many Communication Tools posted on our web site, which can help you in approaching each other in peaceable ways. We hope you’ll take advantage of all that is offered.
Concerning Confrontation We’re Told in the Bible:
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26).
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Live out the Word as you love your spouse, this week and for the rest of your lives together.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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