Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000043
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:33 I'm Alanzo Smith and I'm the host of this program.
00:37 I'm June Smith and I've been married to Alanzo
00:41 for many years.
00:43 And we have worked with many couples.
00:46 We're both counselor educators and today we will be
00:50 talking about conflicts in marriages.
00:53 You noticed she didn't say how many years?
00:55 It's not a long time. Just 31 years.
01:00 Before we do that however, would you bow with me as we pray?
01:07 Father, we thank you for Your mercies and for Your grace.
01:11 We thank You for the power You have to restore families.
01:14 Where there is a discord, Lord we pray You will bring peace.
01:19 And may marriages around the world find oneness in You.
01:24 In Jesus name, Amen. Amen.
01:30 In the Bible, we have a story about Abraham and Lot.
01:37 There was tension in the family, between the herdsmen of Lot
01:43 and the herdsmen of Abraham.
01:46 It was the kind of tension that could destroy the family.
01:51 Abraham, recognizing that, called Lot
01:55 and spoke to him eloquently.
01:59 In Genesis 13:8, I invite you to read with me this text:
02:21 Imbedded in this text is the notion of conflict resolution.
02:30 We want to share with you some positive ways of
02:36 resolving conflicts and to share with you some negative ways
02:40 that individuals use when trying to resolve a conflict.
02:45 Let's first share with you some of those negative ones.
02:50 The notion of isolating from each other
02:55 when there's a conflict.
02:57 That presents a problem for marital relationships.
03:03 If we're going to solve our problems,
03:05 and some families have problems.
03:08 But it is good that they're attempting to solve it.
03:11 However, sometimes they use an ineffective method.
03:17 The idea of withdrawing from each other, of isolating
03:23 themselves one from the other is not an effective way to do that.
03:28 As a matter of fact, there are two types of isolation.
03:32 There is what you call physical isolation and
03:35 there is emotional isolation.
03:38 Let's look at physical isolation first.
03:42 Marriages that practice physical isolation might be doing?
03:49 Taking, for example, themselves out of the bedroom.
03:53 Removing themselves from the house all together.
03:56 So, one may sleep in one room and the other sleep
04:00 in the other room because there's a conflict
04:03 and they're not willing to resolve it.
04:05 But, walking away from the issue isolating from each other,
04:10 is that really helping the process?
04:12 In fact, it makes it more challenging.
04:14 Because now you've shut down communication
04:16 and the problem stays there.
04:18 And at whatever point you choose to rejoin your partner,
04:22 the problem is still there.
04:23 So removing yourself from the stage or from the scene
04:27 really isn't helping the situation.
04:30 So, what I want you to understand is that in your
04:35 marital relationship, you will have conflict.
04:39 But the way you handle it makes a big difference.
04:43 And to isolate yourself from the problem, to stay away,
04:48 not to address it, to walk away, does not help the situation.
04:52 We're saying, you're to find a way of trying to resolve it.
04:56 But certainly, walking away is not a resolution.
05:00 Now there's also what we call emotional isolation
05:03 where one party, or sometimes both, emotionally shuts down.
05:09 They begin to feel pain or feel the frustration and weight of
05:15 the conflict and they get turned off emotionally from each other.
05:19 And they could go on in the same physical space for awhile
05:24 but they're not communicating effectively.
05:27 And somehow things start getting shutdown.
05:31 When the emotion is not in the relationship,
05:34 it creates a lot of damage, emotional damage.
05:38 And so many other things are at stake here.
05:41 So we're saying, it's a poor way, it's a poor way to try
05:46 to resolve a conflict by simply isolating yourself
05:50 from your spouse.
05:53 The concept of winning, this is the one that most times
05:58 people resort to.
05:59 There's a conflict, and in trying to resolve the conflict,
06:03 they feel they have to argue to the point where at the
06:07 end of the argument, they feel they won.
06:11 A marriage is not about winning over the other.
06:14 When there is a problem, we both lose
06:18 if the problem is not solved.
06:19 So what we are encouraging couples to do, and what we are
06:23 encouraging you to do, is to work through your challenge,
06:26 to find a way of saying "This is upsetting,"
06:31 or "I am frustrated that you are doing this,"
06:34 or "I would like for you to change this behavior. "
06:36 But certainly to try to win and exercise power over the other
06:42 is not going to help the situation.
06:44 One of the dangers of trying to win an argument is that
06:49 symmetrical escalation sets in.
06:52 When we talk about symmetrical escalation, what we're talking
06:55 about is vindictiveness leading to more vindictiveness.
06:59 So, I say something bitter about you because you hurt
07:05 my feelings, and I want you to know you did hurt my feelings,
07:08 so I'm going to try to punish you more.
07:10 But guess what?
07:11 You're not going to take it.
07:13 You're going to want to add more to that,
07:16 so you're going to say something more vindictive.
07:18 If I want to win the argument, I'm telling myself,
07:21 in order for me to win, I have to have the last blow.
07:24 And you're saying the same thing.
07:26 So the argument escalates and escalates.
07:29 And that's why it's called symmetrical escalation.
07:31 Because it just keeps rising higher and higher,
07:33 louder and louder.
07:34 More punishing blows, more negative things.
07:37 And clearly that's going to be more devastating and more
07:40 destructive to the family than helping or healing.
07:43 Sometimes when there's a conflict, one person assumes
07:46 what they identify as the superior position.
07:50 And in some circles, it's referred to as the
07:53 "one up, one down" relationship.
07:56 Ellen G. White says, talking about
07:59 "one up, one down" relationships:
08:20 That's precisely what we're endorsing when we're
08:23 talking about "one up, one down" relationships.
08:26 That an individual should not assume this "up" position
08:30 in the relationship and exercising arbitrary control
08:35 over the person they want to keep
08:38 in this "down" relationship.
08:40 In a marriage, the notion of inferior and superior
08:44 really has no place.
08:46 Both individuals are partners, loving partners.
08:50 And it is God's intent that we live in harmony and in unity.
08:55 So, this is clearly not recommended as a way
09:00 to perceive the state or status of each other,
09:04 nor to use to solve conflicts in a relationship.
09:08 So we're talking to you about how not to try
09:12 to resolve a conflict.
09:13 We're saying to you, don't isolate yourself
09:17 from each other.
09:18 Try to come together and work on the issue.
09:21 Secondly, don't try to win an argument.
09:24 If you try to win the fight, you're going to have
09:28 what we call symmetrical escalation,
09:30 where the argument escalates.
09:32 And thirdly we're saying, don't have what is considered a
09:37 "one up, one down" relationship where it's
09:40 always your opinion, your decision, your way,
09:44 whatever you want, and the other person does not have a say.
09:48 "One up, one down" relationships are not helpful.
09:51 They create more conflict and invite more conflict
09:55 in the relationship.
09:56 Now we have the compromise.
09:58 We recommend that this, although it's not the best way or
10:04 only way to resolve a conflict, that a compromise
10:07 sometimes is necessary.
10:09 And a compromise implies both parties move into the center.
10:14 Each person willing to give a little to get a little.
10:18 The goal is, we're both on the same team.
10:22 We want to both win in our interest.
10:25 And so we're encouraging people to think carefully about their
10:30 goal of resolving the conflict.
10:33 It is for the interest of the family.
10:36 Abraham took precisely this approach.
10:40 When he went to Lot and said, "Let there be no strife
10:46 between me and thee," actually, what Abraham was
10:49 calling for was a compromise.
10:51 He says, "Ok, if you will take the land over here,
10:54 then I will go over here.
10:56 And if you will take that part, then I will go there. "
10:59 In other words, he was willing to compromise
11:01 because he wanted peace.
11:03 His family was important.
11:04 Notice what he said, "Let there be no strife
11:08 for we are brethren. "
11:10 And can you imagine how families would do
11:14 so much better if at some point in a conflict someone could
11:18 say, "Let there be no strife between you and me
11:21 because we are a family.
11:23 Let's not allow this thing to escalate beyond,
11:25 because we're a family. "
11:27 It's like a check point.
11:29 We are together, we're one, we have the same goal.
11:33 We're working towards the same goal.
11:35 Therefore, let's try to work things out.
11:38 Compromise is a very powerful therapeutic way
11:42 of resolving a conflict.
11:45 Children live what they learn.
11:48 And in families, when we have a conflict, we don't
11:51 necessarily say to the child, "This is how adults
11:54 resolve their issues. "
11:55 But the child learns.
11:57 And when they grow up and have their own families,
11:59 they perpetuate what they observe.
12:02 So it is important, not only for us to think about the issue
12:06 at stake between the two adults, but to understand the impact
12:10 that the method we use is having on our children.
12:16 Clearly, what we're asking you to do
12:19 is for you to be able to come to the table
12:23 and give a little and take a little.
12:27 When you're going into conflict resolution, there are times when
12:32 your complete ideas may not be totally met,
12:35 but you're willing to give and take.
12:37 That's the whole idea, that's the whole rationale
12:40 behind conflict resolution.
12:42 And that's exactly what God is expecting from us.
12:45 We're to be able to give and take.
12:48 It's the essence of a healthy Christian relationship.
12:52 And families that are growing stronger and want to avoid
12:56 having conflict, they have to know how to resolve a conflict.
13:00 Well, we're going to pause here because we
13:03 need to go for a break.
13:04 But guess what?
13:05 We will be right back.
13:07 We're going to ask you, don't go away.
13:08 Or if you have to rush out, make sure you get back here
13:11 right in time because we'll be right back.
13:24 There are many "How To" books available,
13:26 but there's one that's free and perfect for every couple.
13:29 "How You Can Build A Better Marriage"
13:32 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted,
13:36 easy to read manner for those contemplating marriage,
13:38 newlyweds, couples in their golden years,
13:41 and everyone in between.
13:43 Simply call or write for your free copy.
14:00 Welcome back to Marriage In God's Hands.
14:03 We have been talking about conflicts in marriages.
14:07 And so, we have shared with you already,
14:10 not to isolate from each other, not to try to win the argument,
14:16 not to have a "one up, one down" relationship.
14:19 And now we have discussed compromise
14:22 as a viable alternative.
14:24 The next one we want to introduce to you is resolution.
14:30 The notion of resolution indicates we want to
14:34 solve this problem.
14:35 So what you do when you have a conflict and when a
14:38 conflict is facing your marriage is; one, you must identify
14:42 what the problem is.
14:43 Then you need to brainstorm and look at what your options are.
14:47 And then both of you and whoever else is involved,
14:51 needs to pick one of those solutions and implement it.
14:56 So you're working towards a reasonable outcome
15:00 that both of you find neutrally acceptable.
15:03 So resolution is even stronger than, say, compromise.
15:07 When you have deep seeded problems, sometimes
15:11 you can't just sit in one setting to accomplish your goal
15:16 or to bring about a solution.
15:18 Sometimes it may take a week or even a longer period of time.
15:21 But the fact is, you're not quitting, you're working hard.
15:25 You're sitting down, both of you are resolved that we must
15:30 get beyond this, we must pass this, we must get over it.
15:33 And so whatever it takes, with Jesus Christ at your side,
15:38 you're going to work through until you get through the storm.
15:42 Unfortunately, sometimes you have one party that is not
15:47 willing to resolve the problem.
15:48 And in that situation, it makes it difficult
15:52 to bring about resolution.
15:53 But if both people are mutually committed to solve the problem
15:57 in the marriage, by God's grace it is possible.
16:00 And when that happens, when there is this interlocking
16:05 pathology, what we might have to do,
16:12 you may have to triangulate the problem.
16:16 That is to say, it's not just between both of you now
16:20 because you're not bringing about resolution.
16:22 You have to triangulate a third party into that
16:26 dyadic relationship to help you to break the pathology,
16:30 to help you to get beyond, to help you to focus.
16:34 How can we triangulate the problem in a way
16:39 that is wholesome and effective?
16:41 As you said, this involves bringing a third person in.
16:44 Sometimes it might need to be the pastor or an elder.
16:48 Or sometimes a trusted friend.
16:50 And many times, a professional counselor.
16:54 But somebody that can be objective who will help
16:57 both parties to look at what is the problem
17:01 and to help to work out a reasonable path to a resolution.
17:06 Often times, individuals triangulate relationships
17:10 in negative ways.
17:12 For example, the bringing in of a third party;
17:15 it could be an in-law, it could be a friend,
17:17 it could be a lover, it could be someone else,
17:20 into the relationship and it's hurting the relationship.
17:23 That's not the kind or the type of triangulation
17:27 that we are talking about.
17:28 The type of triangulation we're talking about is healthy
17:31 triangulation where, when the third party comes into your
17:35 relationship, it is to help.
17:37 It is to help to problem solve and to make the marriage
17:42 stronger, not weaker, not to break up, not worse,
17:46 but to make the marriage stronger.
17:48 That's what we're talking about.
17:50 Sometimes, it is difficult to separate or to become objective
17:55 when a friend comes to you and says,
17:58 "I'm have a problem with my spouse. "
18:00 And that is why we encourage people who have problems to
18:06 stay away from that method.
18:08 It is better for them to go speak to somebody
18:11 who can be objective.
18:12 Because when you project or tell your friends or
18:17 even you relatives information about your relationship,
18:21 sometimes it's difficult for them to be loyal.
18:23 Or to be disloyal, as they perceive it.
18:25 And that creates more difficulties in resolving.
18:28 They form alliances and coalitions rather than
18:31 resolving the problem.
18:33 So you don't want to talk to somebody who is just going to
18:36 side with you and not help you see
18:38 how you are contributing to the problem.
18:40 You want someone who can listen to both sides of the story
18:43 and be objective.
18:45 So three positive methods that we are giving you that you
18:49 can use in helping to resolve conflict in your marriage.
18:53 One: compromise.
18:56 Sometimes you have to give a little and take a little
18:59 in order to resolve the problem.
19:01 Two: resolution.
19:03 That is hard work, tedious work where you stay together,
19:06 you hang in there and you say, "We're going to work,
19:09 we're going to work this thing through.
19:11 We're going to get through on the other end. "
19:14 And the third one: triangulation.
19:16 Sometimes, the problem is of such that you have to
19:20 bring in a third party who is independent, who is unbiased,
19:24 who will help to bring about a resolution.
19:27 And that third party, as we said, should be a pastor,
19:31 a counselor, a good family member that both parties
19:35 respect and agree with.
19:36 But it can't be someone who is biased.
19:40 There are times when we try to resolve a conflict
19:46 and it's not working out.
19:48 So obviously, there are good times to try to
19:50 resolve a conflict, and there are bad times.
19:53 In fact, we say timing is everything.
19:56 We recommend that in resolving a problem, that you avoid
20:02 doing this if you're exhausted or tired.
20:04 Your brain, you're whole being is just not with it.
20:09 And it is a lot safer for you to try to work on a problem when
20:14 you have some energy and you're able to think objectively.
20:18 I can tell you, listening to us right now, I can tell you
20:22 out there; never try to resolve a conflict when you are angry.
20:29 If you are angry, you are not going to say it right,
20:32 it's not going to sound good, and the way you are feeling,
20:36 it's just going to make matters worse.
20:38 So the worse time to try to resolve a conflict:
20:42 when you are angry.
20:44 Bad time.
20:45 Calm down, drink some water, take a nap, whatever it is.
20:49 Calm down before you attempt.
20:51 Because if you are angry, it's not going to work.
20:55 Another thing that doesn't work well is if you are in a hurry.
20:59 If you're resolving a problem that really is confronting
21:02 the family or the marriage, you do need to identify
21:07 time when you can both meet together to work on this issue.
21:13 But to be in a haste, if you're rushing to catch the plane,
21:16 or you're rushing to work, it may not be the best time
21:20 to attempt a resolution.
21:23 I heard a gentleman complaining once.
21:26 He was saying that his wife woke him up, had this habit
21:30 of waking him up 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning saying,
21:35 "We've got to talk, we've got to talk. "
21:37 And he says, "At that time, I don't want to talk.
21:40 I want to sleep.
21:41 It doesn't matter what the problem is, I want to sleep. "
21:44 So I'm saying to you, when you're sleepy,
21:48 it is a bad time to try to resolve a conflict.
21:53 Or if your spouse is sleepy, no matter how pressing
21:56 the matter is, when someone is sleepy,
21:58 it is not going to go well.
22:01 Sleepiness and tiredness and fatigue;
22:05 and when all of these come down, if you attempt,
22:09 it's going to be disastrous.
22:11 So the essence of conflict resolution is timing.
22:14 You identify the problem, you look at your options,
22:18 and you're both committed that what you are attempting to do
22:21 is to work through the challenge.
22:23 And the goal is that by God's grace, at the other side of
22:27 the coin, you will get to some resolution.
22:31 You know, sometimes I don't feel like
22:36 I want to talk about the problem.
22:38 Sometimes, I don't feel I even want to
22:42 bring about any resolution.
22:44 Maybe I'm so mad, I'm so upset.
22:46 Whatever the issue is.
22:49 But I don't have that right to tell myself
22:53 that I don't want to resolve the problem.
22:55 In a marital relationship, I don't have that right.
22:58 I have to respect the need of the other party
23:02 to bring about resolution.
23:04 And I have to love my spouse in such a way that I do want
23:08 to bring about that resolution.
23:10 So that both people must be committed
23:12 that this one thing I do.
23:14 It reminds me of the text we read earlier where
23:17 Abram said, "We be brethren. "
23:20 It therefore means, because we are family
23:23 we need to work on this harmony.
23:27 So if I'm hungry,
23:29 should I attempt to resolve a problem?
23:33 Tell me something, you're listening to me.
23:36 Would you like to try to resolve a problem
23:39 when you are really hungry?
23:41 I don't think so.
23:42 What about when you have a bad day at work?
23:43 It's the same thing too.
23:45 There's just appropriateness and inappropriateness
23:51 in trying to resolve a conflict.
23:53 If someone is hungry, if someone had a bad day at work,
23:58 it's not going to go good.
24:00 Sometimes, people are able to talk through
24:03 with some of these things going on.
24:05 But what I'm saying to you is, it's just not
24:09 the appropriate thing to do.
24:12 There are other times, other ways, other means that you can
24:17 use to resolve a conflict, but not these that we have listed.
24:22 So, we have our conflicts and we try to resolve them.
24:26 There are conflict issues.
24:28 What do you do with conflict issues?
24:31 The first thing you want to do is agree there is a problem.
24:34 Because sometimes I find what happens is,
24:37 one person thinks there is a problem, and the other person
24:39 thinks, "Well if you think there's a problem, fix it.
24:42 But I don't think there is a problem. "
24:43 And so they're not responsive to resolve it.
24:46 So both people must agree that there is an issue,
24:49 and the issue is mutually affecting both of us
24:52 or the entire family.
24:53 And then they should be committed to resolve it.
24:57 And find an appropriate time.
24:59 Set an appropriate time when it's convenient to both parties.
25:04 We have already isolated the things that we should not do.
25:07 Find an appropriate time and settle down
25:10 and work on the relationship.
25:11 So you're saying, both people must be committed to the
25:15 time that is agreed on.
25:17 One person can't dictate that this is when we must
25:19 talk about this.
25:20 No, because again then that's the "one up, one down" method.
25:24 And we say that's poor.
25:27 You should also communicate in a way when you're
25:30 going to resolve a problem, you can't start out by saying,
25:33 "Well, you know, I am sick and tired of
25:36 telling you this one thing. "
25:39 It's going to go downhill from there on.
25:41 You have to be appropriate.
25:43 And by appropriate, I mean communicate in a way
25:47 that makes the other individual want to participate
25:52 in the discussion.
25:53 So you don't want to go into the resolution already stating
25:57 and demanding what you want.
26:01 You want to indicate to the person that your goal
26:05 for this meeting is to solve and resolve the problem.
26:09 And never forget to listen. You have to listen.
26:13 Don't go and start talking, talking, talking, talking.
26:16 You have to listen.
26:18 When you hear what the other person is saying,
26:20 and you understand what the other person is saying,
26:22 sometimes you can better relate and you can
26:25 better accept your mistakes and your short comings.
26:28 That's important.
26:30 Well, I like what Ephesians says.
26:34 I'm going to ask you to read with me Ephesians 4:29.
26:56 Conflict will arise.
26:59 How you manage the conflict is the important thing.
27:03 We want you to remember the Word of God.
27:06 In your discourse, in your argument, whatever it is,
27:10 let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth.
27:14 No put downs, no PD's. No negatives.
27:18 Be able to argue in a way that you're working
27:21 towards a resolution.
27:22 And remember, when everything is said and done,
27:25 you're on the same team.
27:27 God wants you to be happy.
27:29 God wants you to resolve your conflict.
27:32 And if by any chance you're there in a conflict
27:36 that is not yet resolved, we say, get help.
27:39 Take it to the Lord in prayer.
27:41 What a friend we have in Jesus.
27:43 He will bless us.