Participants: June Smith, Alanzo Smith
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000067
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:33 I'm Alanzo Smith and this is my wife, June Smith.
00:37 And we want to talk to you about dealing with
00:40 difficult family members.
00:43 You know, we have a lot of issues with our family members.
00:50 And every family has problems.
00:53 But there are some individuals that are just difficult
00:57 to get along with.
00:58 Most people in families will identify someone
01:02 that they have to be guarded around.
01:04 Someone who they've probably made several attempts
01:07 to work together with but they just find it difficult.
01:12 So yes, it is really important for us to acknowledge
01:16 that sometimes the problem is really not with you;
01:19 it is with the difficult person.
01:21 So we could call them difficult people,
01:24 we could call them irrational people,
01:26 insensitive people, arrogant people.
01:29 Whatever we want to use to describe them, the fact is
01:32 they are just difficult to get along with.
01:35 And they make life unhappy, they make life miserable.
01:39 And sometimes it even affects your spiritual relationship.
01:43 Now is this just one type of person that we're talking about?
01:47 It's always this individual?
01:49 Or do we have a picture of different individuals?
01:53 A difficult person could be anyone.
01:55 It might be your own spouse.
01:56 It might be your own child.
01:59 It could even be an in-law, a neighbor, a co-worker.
02:04 Just people in general who find it real difficult
02:09 to get along with everyone.
02:11 Let's share with our listeners some of the things that we find
02:18 in these people that we are talking about.
02:21 One of them I would classify as backstabbing.
02:24 Backstabbing seems to go along in a lot of families.
02:28 Usually what tends to happen is when people are
02:31 what we call cowards.
02:33 There is something that is upsetting or frustrating
02:36 in the relationship, but rather than confront you and say,
02:39 "You know, this is what happens when you do this,"
02:41 they would rather hurt you behind your back by saying
02:44 mean things about you.
02:46 So a backstabber is an individual who
02:50 in your presence they are okay, they are nice,
02:54 they are cordial, they talk with you.
02:57 But when your back is turned, as the name suggests,
03:01 that's when they get at you.
03:03 And sometimes it's just plain jealousy.
03:07 So that they envy your accomplishments or your
03:12 relationship with your child or with your spouse.
03:15 And they do everything to hurt you behind the scene.
03:19 Wouldn't you say backstabbing has some close correlation with
03:24 undermining, someone who undermines you?
03:26 We could almost call them cousins.
03:28 You know, when you undermine an individual, you real goal is
03:32 you present a cordial front and so you allow the person to think
03:36 that you are with them, but then behind the scenes
03:39 or sometimes even in front of them, they sabotage you.
03:43 They try to, you know it's almost like they want to be
03:46 politically correct but they don't follow through on what
03:48 they're committed to do to either make the relationship
03:51 work or to promote your interest.
03:53 So someone who is undermining you is an individual who could,
03:58 in front of you, are with you.
04:01 You're planning a program and they seem to suggest that
04:05 they're giving support, they're with you in this program,
04:07 their ideas, they go along with it.
04:10 And you have the feeling now that, okay,
04:12 this person is with me, but as soon as your back is turned
04:16 or when they're not in your presence they would tear
04:18 the program down, they would criticize it,
04:20 they would destroy it.
04:21 That's an underminer.
04:23 And sometimes they do it directly in front of you.
04:25 They will undermine what you're trying to promote
04:29 or what you're trying to accomplish in your family
04:31 or they just don't cooperate in the relationship with you.
04:37 An instigator, an individual who tries to stir up trouble;
04:45 an instigator.
04:47 And you have these in families.
04:48 Not just families, but in the church and in every level
04:52 and other areas of society.
04:54 But an instigator is an individual who just
04:56 tries to find things to create problems in the relationship.
05:02 It is said that misery likes company.
05:05 And sometimes what instigators do is they form alliances.
05:08 They find somebody else in the family who they
05:12 can be agreeable with and they form a team.
05:15 But your goal is to cause problems in the family.
05:19 And so the slightest thing that is said that could be hurtful,
05:22 whereas other family members might overlook it
05:25 or even forgive it, the instigator will try to
05:28 show why this is a problem and why this should be said
05:31 and why you need to be upset.
05:33 How could you leave this alone.
05:35 You know, they agitate. They agitate.
05:38 It's like they're not satisfied until...
05:41 In their mind, they say justice is done.
05:43 But it's not necessarily justice they're after,
05:45 it's just their personality.
05:46 They're kind of a narcissistic personality, if you will.
05:50 It's almost that they thrive in conflicts
05:53 except that there is drama.
05:56 That's what you would say.
05:57 Going back to your verse, misery likes company.
05:59 They just don't seem to be comfortable when things
06:03 are happy at harmonious.
06:05 And when you look into extended families,
06:09 sometimes you find that people don't like their in-laws
06:14 because they see their in-laws as an instigator;
06:17 always stirring up trouble, always bringing up something.
06:21 And I'm sure you listening to me there, you're saying, "Uh-huh.
06:26 I can identify with this.
06:28 I know this particular individual who
06:31 they just seem to be in the mix of things. "
06:33 If there's a problem, you can trace it back to this individual
06:36 who started it or did something to create that problem.
06:39 And usually it's not necessarily the in-laws fault.
06:42 It is usually the instigator's fault because they look for
06:46 reasons and things to justify their own emotional state.
06:51 And so they will be picky and they pick at every thing
06:54 that could create a problem in the relationship.
06:56 We have another type of difficult person to
07:01 get along with and we describe these as the snake in the grass.
07:06 The snake in the grass are the individuals who,
07:12 they hide and wait for their opportune moment
07:17 to strike at you.
07:19 I remember this story about an Indian Chief who
07:23 was hunting on top of a mountain.
07:25 And just as he was about to descend, he saw a rattlesnake.
07:28 And the rattlesnake said to him, "Indian chief,
07:31 could you please take me to the foot of the mountain?
07:34 I need to get there because I must be there
07:38 before the sun sets. "
07:39 The Indian Chief said, "No, I won't do that.
07:42 I know who you are and if I pick you up,
07:44 you're going to bite me. "
07:45 And he said, "No I would not do that.
07:46 Please, I need to get down. "
07:48 So the Indian Chief succumbed to the pressure and picked up
07:53 the rattlesnake, put it in his coat pocket, and
07:55 headed down to the foot of the mountain.
07:57 When he got there, he took the snake out, put it in the grass.
08:01 And just as he walked away, the snake turned and
08:04 pounced on him and bit him.
08:06 And he cried out, he said, "You promised, you promised. "
08:09 And the snake, as it slithered away in the grass said,
08:12 "You knew who I was before you picked me up. "
08:15 That's the behavior of a snake in the grass.
08:18 It's unfortunate when we have to encounter these
08:21 characters in our own families.
08:24 But they do exist.
08:25 People who look for opportune moments to hurt you.
08:29 And the idea is that they're unhappy themselves
08:35 and so they pass it on.
08:36 Do you know what I notice in this category of people,
08:40 difficult people that we're talking about?
08:42 They have a long memory.
08:44 They can remember things from what was done to them
08:48 or who it was done with, they have details.
08:51 And these individuals are not ready to forgive.
08:53 Do you notice that too?
08:55 Unfortunately, usually these are people who are
08:58 usually wounded, we call them.
09:00 And so they end up hurting others.
09:02 So we're talking about backstabbers,
09:06 we're talking about underminers,
09:08 we're talking about difficult people, instigators,
09:12 and we have mentioned the snake in the grass.
09:15 But there's another category of difficult people that
09:18 we should mention.
09:20 And that is the snitchers.
09:22 Snitchers are people who, as it suggests, snitch.
09:25 They don't keep secrets, they don't keep confidence.
09:29 And so what tends to happen is that they tell everything
09:33 that happens in the family.
09:34 Now there's some things in the family that happens
09:36 that are private.
09:37 And you really don't want to, you know, there are limits
09:39 and boundaries within your family.
09:40 And some things you don't say outside of what
09:42 the family boundaries are.
09:44 But snitchers are people who will gossip and will say
09:47 everything that happens.
09:48 And they just can't keep the confidence of family members.
09:51 I often share this Chinese proverb that I've heard.
09:55 It goes like this.
09:57 "He who listens to gossip is just as guilty
10:02 as the one who tells it.
10:04 Both should be hanged.
10:06 One by the ear and the other by the tongue. "
10:09 Now obviously, the first thing we want to back away
10:12 from; the notion.
10:13 We're not here describing physical abuse, I mean
10:16 subscribing to physical abuse or violence in any form.
10:20 But just the notion of what the proverb is saying...
10:23 Both are guilty. Yes.
10:25 Snitchers, they have their fault but they seem to have
10:30 an ear, an audience, somebody who is willing to listen.
10:34 Now my question to you, June, is;
10:36 Is there a difference between the one who likes to
10:39 tell the tale and the one who likes to listen to the tale?
10:42 I would say not really because if you're going to tell a tale
10:46 and you have no one to listen, you'll probably
10:47 stop telling the tale.
10:48 But if you have people to receive the gossip,
10:50 then you're likely to continue the behavior.
10:53 So both people need to desist from that behavior.
10:56 And the unfortunate thing is that sometimes what the person
11:01 is talking about is not the truth.
11:04 Or sometimes they don't get the full story.
11:06 They just hear something and rather than checking out
11:09 to see if the story is true, they run with it,
11:11 they're willing to tell.
11:13 Unfortunately, some of you listening to me are like that.
11:16 You share information without justifying the truthfulness
11:21 of it, the veracity of the story.
11:23 You only want to hear something and you don't check it out
11:26 and you're willing to spread it.
11:28 It is unfortunate and sad, but it is so true that
11:32 some people, if they hear good news, they don't share it.
11:36 If they hear bad news, they run with it.
11:40 Well as they often say, good news doesn't sell the paper.
11:43 So I think the same thing is true in families.
11:46 Rarely do you hear somebody calling and saying,
11:48 oh you know, this great thing happened.
11:50 It's usually, did you hear that so and so is
11:54 doing something wrong.
11:55 Unfortunately, it's a sin problem.
11:57 Here's another category.
12:00 Now fanatics are difficult people to get along with.
12:05 Why is this so?
12:07 Because they're rigid in their thinking.
12:09 They're usually people who are stubborn and people who
12:12 see things in black and white.
12:15 There's no gray area. There's no compromise.
12:17 You either do it this way or it shouldn't be done.
12:21 And they make it real difficult to adapt and to be flexible
12:24 and to adjust.
12:26 So the Pharisees in Jesus' time would be a classic example
12:33 for this category of individuals.
12:36 The Sadducees, these are individuals who the way
12:40 they think and they way they perceive things...
12:43 And each one, mark you, each person has a
12:46 right to their thinking.
12:47 But what we're saying is that you should not impose
12:49 this upon someone.
12:50 So the way I see the world and the way I view the world,
12:54 I should not expect people to see through my lens.
12:57 And fanatics are like that.
12:59 If you don't see things the way they see it and perceive it
13:02 the way they perceive it, they become offended
13:05 and would make life miserable and difficult for you.
13:08 That's why we categorize them as difficult people.
13:11 Well we have been talking about difficult people
13:14 and we have a lot more to share with you.
13:16 As a matter of fact, what do you do with these individuals?
13:19 How do you live with them?
13:20 They're your family members, you can't discard them.
13:22 They are there. What do you do?
13:24 That's what we want to talk about when we come back.
13:26 So stay where you are, be with us.
13:28 We're going to talk about some interesting things.
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14:10 Welcome back to Marriage In God's Hands.
14:13 We've been talking about difficult people.
14:16 And we looked at some of the ways in which they manifest.
14:19 We talked about backstabbers, and snitchers, and instigators.
14:24 And snake in the grass, and underminers, and all of these.
14:29 But it's one thing to highlight the difficult people, but
14:33 the question is what do you do with them.
14:36 And so what we want to look at is what we call
14:39 a Biblical approach.
14:40 We want to look at the Matthew 18 principle
14:43 because Matthew has given us some good steps to take
14:47 when trying to resolve a conflict or trying to work
14:51 with a difficult person.
14:52 The first thing that Matthew says is that we should
14:56 go directly to the individual and we should talk
14:59 with them, confront them.
15:01 Share with us this process, the benefit of going to the
15:06 individual one to one and trying to talk to them.
15:10 One of the things that we're trying to do when we do that
15:12 is to allow the person to understand that we're aware
15:17 of how their behavior is impacting the relationship
15:20 whether it is the marriage or the family dynamics in general.
15:23 Most people, or sometimes people tend to stay away from
15:28 talking about it and they just act upset or they withdraw
15:31 from the family circle.
15:33 But we are suggesting that we want to retain more families
15:37 and we want to keep the circle unbroken.
15:38 So when there's a difficult person that's creating
15:41 dissidence in the relationship, we want to confront it.
15:44 By confronting, should we go to them and we should...
15:49 What should be our attitude, what should be our posture?
15:52 How should we confront?
15:53 Because some people, by confronting,
15:55 may create a larger problem.
15:58 We don't want to escalate the problem, for sure.
16:00 But we do want to be non-threatening.
16:04 So the first thing I would suggest is that you say,
16:07 "Look, we've been having some problems in this relationship.
16:10 And I am interested in restoring harmony.
16:14 So I'd like to talk to you about how you're impacting me
16:17 or how your behavior is impacting the relationship. "
16:21 So the person doesn't feel attacked or need to defend.
16:25 So we shouldn't criticize and we should be very open
16:30 and we should be frank.
16:31 And it is hoped that by doing this in a most spiritual and
16:35 Godly way, this would help to resolve the problem
16:38 or help the difficult person to understand what he or she
16:41 is doing that is creating this dysfunctionality
16:44 in the marital family.
16:48 Unfortunately, you might go with a very calm approach
16:51 and you might be very willing to resolve the problem,
16:54 but the other person may not be necessarily
16:55 prepared to do that.
16:57 So what do you do?
16:58 Well, Matthew gives us the second step.
17:00 Matthew says that we should take two or three other persons
17:04 with us like witnesses to be there so as we talk with the
17:09 individual, we have some folks there.
17:11 Now the question I ask myself is why do we need to do this.
17:15 What's the redeem of the value?
17:19 I went one to one and I talked, I expressed myself,
17:23 I tried to be kind, I tried to be as Christ-like as
17:26 I could and the person wouldn't listen.
17:28 What's the point of taking two or three?
17:31 I think that sometimes it could be that,
17:33 one, you're making sure that you have a witness to the situation
17:37 and to the scenario so you couldn't be charged of
17:40 violating the person's boundaries or so.
17:44 But I also think that it allows for objectivity.
17:47 Because sometimes your perception might be off as well.
17:50 Even though you're dealing with a difficult person,
17:52 maybe the way you're perceiving the person
17:54 is your own view of how the person is interpreted.
17:58 So you're saying that it is possible that the response
18:01 the person gave me was quite an appropriate response.
18:05 But I just didn't take it the right way.
18:08 I didn't have the right approach.
18:09 And so someone standing there could say,
18:12 "Well you know, Alanzo, what they said was correct.
18:16 The way they responded was okay and maybe you need to
18:18 reexamine yourself. "
18:20 And that's important.
18:21 So that's what they can do.
18:23 So we break the big defenses down.
18:25 And having an objective person there to listen to both sides
18:29 of the story or of the situation is in a position to say,
18:32 "Okay, this is what I'm hearing.
18:34 This is what you said, this is what's going on.
18:37 Now what do you both want to do about it?"
18:40 Rather than having the person who you perceive as doing
18:43 something to you or to the relationship be on the defense.
18:47 So it creates the room for a healthier discussion.
18:51 Isn't that what we call triangulation?
18:53 Triangulating a problem when there's a conflict between you
18:57 and another individual.
18:59 Sometimes it's best to bring a third party,
19:02 an independent party.
19:03 Someone that you both respect and someone who will be
19:07 objective and won't take sides, won't be a bias person.
19:10 By bringing this third person in, it can help to bring about
19:15 a resolution.
19:16 And I think that's the goal.
19:18 The goal is when there's a challenge in the relationship
19:21 and you perceive that this is stemming from or contributed
19:26 by the behavior of a person who you perceive to be difficult
19:30 to get along with, that the goal is not so much to
19:33 embarrass, criticize, or confront this person
19:36 for your own, you know, to strike back at the person.
19:42 But that the goal is to resolve the conflict in the family.
19:45 And you know, June, as you said that
19:48 I can't help but ask myself a question.
19:53 What if?
19:54 What if you have gone through step one and the
19:57 person did not change, it didn't help?
20:01 You went through step two and still the problem is there.
20:06 Matthew is giving us a third step.
20:08 Matthew is saying, well take it to the church.
20:11 And in this situation, Matthew is looking at a Christian family
20:15 committed and connected to a church.
20:17 Take it to the church and present the
20:19 matter to the church.
20:20 But Matthew says if they won't hear the church
20:23 then, you know, let them go.
20:25 They are cast away.
20:27 Now my question to you is, not all your family members
20:31 are religious and so you might not be able to take the
20:34 Matthew 18 principle to the third step.
20:38 Now, where do you go from here?
20:40 You try step one, you try step two, and nothing happens.
20:44 Where do you go from there?
20:46 I think even with the person in the family who is religious
20:50 that they may not necessarily adapt to the approach of
20:53 confronting them through the Matthew approach.
20:56 So I think one way that we might do it is directly,
21:01 practically addressing the concept of resolution
21:05 with the person underscoring that there is a problem
21:08 in our family and we need to work it through.
21:11 And so what I'm proposing is that you
21:13 start with "I" messages.
21:15 You say something like, "I need to resolve the conflict that I'm
21:22 experiencing, that I perceive as a result of your behavior.
21:26 And so I would like to talk about how
21:28 that is impacting me. "
21:29 "I get frustrated when you leave your shoe at the door
21:35 or when you tell my sister what I told you. "
21:37 I was just going to ask you to give me a practical example.
21:41 Let's say, let's personalize it here now.
21:43 And I'm not calling myself a difficult person.
21:47 Nor are you.
21:49 But let's say the conflict is with us.
21:51 How do you use "I" statements that I can hear you
21:57 and understand you, and at the same time don't feel
21:59 offended that you're attacking me?
22:00 My goal is, again, to underscore that I'm trying to resolve this.
22:05 So I would say, "Alanzo, I need to speak with you
22:09 about what I am feeling as a result of the way I
22:15 perceive your behavior. "
22:17 So you're not attacking me and you're not labeling me.
22:21 But at the same time, you're stating your frustration
22:25 and what the problem is.
22:27 So I'm saying, I feel frustrated.
22:29 I am in need of talking about this.
22:32 So I'm giving you an in, I'm inviting you in
22:35 to work with me on feeling better about what's going on.
22:40 So when dealing with difficult people, we should bring our
22:44 best self to the conversation and the discussion.
22:48 Do not allow a difficult person to take you downhill.
22:52 Don't go there with them.
22:53 Be at your best.
22:55 Know your principles, know what you're about,
22:58 and stand for those high values.
23:01 So the goal is to address the conflict, to address
23:05 the problem, the issue, not the person.
23:07 Now be aware that the difficult person is on guard
23:11 ready to strike.
23:13 So when you go toward them or attempt to confront them,
23:17 you have to be as gentle and as Christ-centered as possible.
23:23 So we cannot attempt to do this then without the presence of
23:28 the Holy Spirit in our heart and in our lives.
23:31 People are difficult and it's not easy to work with them
23:34 and to relate with them.
23:35 Now there must be some reasons though why people
23:40 get to this state.
23:41 There must be some reason why individuals,
23:43 you always have them.
23:44 It's not like they're not there.
23:46 They're ever present.
23:47 Why is this so?
23:48 There are a variety of reasons.
23:50 People are flawed.
23:52 We're all flawed.
23:54 People walk around with wounds.
23:56 So people get their wounds healed and carry their scars.
23:59 Others have the wounds that are hurting.
24:01 And when a person is hurting, they again seek to make
24:06 life uncomfortable for themselves
24:09 as well as for others.
24:10 One reason why these people end up being so hard to
24:13 get along with is they want attention.
24:17 And they will get it at any cost.
24:20 It doesn't matter who is hurting as a result.
24:23 Another reason is they have very little power
24:26 in the relationship.
24:27 And so they feel threatened, may times.
24:29 And so they will compete with the other member in the family
24:34 to get that power.
24:35 Or it could be that they feel inadequate.
24:38 They have a poor concept of themselves
24:41 and they will again make life extremely difficult
24:45 because they feel so inadequate.
24:47 But when a person is hurting and they want attention
24:50 and they're probably not getting it the way they want,
24:52 or they don't have the power they would like,
24:54 if they feel inadequate, they sometimes seek to revenge.
24:58 And they do that by hurting you or hurting others.
25:02 So actually what we are receiving now is the
25:06 revengeful part of their life.
25:09 They have gone through their pain, they've gone through
25:12 their hurt, and so their taking it out.
25:15 And do you know that sometimes they don't
25:17 quite understand that?
25:19 Sometimes these wounds are coming from childhood.
25:21 Now they're married and they have their own children.
25:23 And they have these emotions that are emitted that they don't
25:27 understand where it's coming from.
25:28 They may have been rejected, they could have been abused,
25:31 and so much could have happened to them.
25:33 And so now they're in a relationship and it
25:35 comes right out and is displaced on all these innocent
25:38 people in their family.
25:40 And it's not just the family that suffers.
25:42 Society suffers too because sometimes you see
25:45 people taking out their anger and taking out their rage
25:48 and their unfulfilled dreams and unmet dreams on society,
25:52 society at large.
25:53 So we are all at risk when we have these difficult people
25:56 and they're not helped.
25:58 Now we also should mention that you should not be afraid to
26:04 unmask a difficult person because sometimes they are
26:06 doing what they're doing under the cloak.
26:09 Sometimes they are hiding and they want to keep
26:11 in the background, but at the same time they're hurting.
26:14 But we should expose it.
26:15 Meaning we should confront it. Yes.
26:18 We should say, "Look, this is how I am perceiving
26:21 your behavior and I wonder if you're even aware of it. "
26:24 And if the person is aware of it, then you want to say,
26:27 "I need this to stop because we're in a relationship,
26:31 we want to live in harmony, and this behavior
26:35 is not acceptable. "
26:37 We all have had our difficulties.
26:40 For some of you, it's childhood difficulty.
26:44 For others, it's when you were growing up as a teenager
26:48 or at some point along the journey.
26:50 We have been hurt, we have war wounds.
26:53 And sometimes it renders us difficult.
26:56 We make life impossible for others.
26:59 We make people's marriages unhappy
27:02 and individual lives unhappy.
27:04 And it would be very good if you could take at this moment
27:08 an introspective look at yourself and ask yourself
27:11 "What am I doing to make someone else uncomfortable?"
27:15 Or better yet, "How can I change myself to be a better me,
27:21 to be a better person?"
27:22 And the answer lies in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
27:27 If you have been hurt, take it to the Lord in prayer.
27:30 And if you are hurting someone, you should also go to God and
27:34 ask Him for strength that you will be a better person.
27:39 We're living in a difficult world.
27:41 We see marriages are being destroyed every day.
27:44 And you should not contribute to the destruction of
27:47 an individual or an individual's marriage.
27:50 As a matter of fact, when you seek to destroy someone,
27:53 in essence you're destroying your own self.
27:56 Our encouragement to you today is go back to the word of God.
28:01 Our encouragement to you is to trust in God,
28:04 love Him, and serve Him.