Prepare-Enrich Conflict Resolution

             Today’s class on resolving conflict at our church really punched a pack. Hard to believe I do not remember learning these stages of conflict resolution when my husband and I attended our pre-marital counseling, Prepare-Enrich. It was refreshing to hear couples married a decade or two or three say they have revolving issues, and to see them practice some of these stages also. No doubt, we will all be able to practice these better in the weeks to come… and maybe some of you may want to try also.



Notes from Prepare- Enrich Marriage Mentoring course 


All couples have disagreements.

Studies show they are not related to marital happiness as much as how they are handled. Happy couples do not avoid disagreements, they resolve them while remaining respectful of each other, therefore strengthening their relationship. The first person sets the scenario for the other person’s response by the tone of their voice. ( if accusatory, sarcastic, derogatory)

The following stages provide an effective way to resolve conflict: Step by step.

1  Set aside a time and place. Agree to a time and place for discussion.                                                             Ie. “Can we find some time to talk about this?”

2  Define the issue/situation -be specific                                                                                 “I know you get a lot of enjoyment from watching sports, but I have felt we’re not                     connecting enough lately. I miss quality time with you.”

3  List the ways you both contribute to the problem.  This was the most difficult step for most in our class. To take the time and see how each contributes. i.e. The upset person contributes by not being open and honest, if, instead, they are seething inside…allowing thoughts like “he doesn’t even care about me.”

4  List Past Attempts (if any) to resolve the issue that were not successful.

5  Brainstorm possible solutions. Try to come up with 10 possible solutions to the situation. Do not judge or criticize any suggestions by each other. Don’t shut down brainstorming before it’s done. Write List.

6  Discuss and evaluate possible solutions. (be objective and give useful, constructive feedback)

7  Agree on one solution to try, and agree how you will work toward the solution. Sometimes it takes many attempts to find something that works and these problems repeat themselves.

8  Set up a meeting to follow up: Date , time, location. How is it working?

9  Be intentional– plan to meet again in a week or a month for follow-up.


How to Use Time Out’s

Even with great communication, we still have conflict- because we can disagree. The point is it doesn’t have to be heated. Great communication is listening to understand. Avoid you statements, use I statements.  No you always, you never statements.  Start with affirmation. “I appreciate how you groom yourself and keep a nice appearance but I feel resentful when I have to pick up your clothes, feel I am the only one doing the laundry, etc.”

TIME-OUTs are from 20” to calm down up to a day… It takes 15 minutes for an anxiety attack to pass.

Recognize the need for time-out if : Face red. Breathing fast. Tears streaming. Fists clenched. Feel like screaming or throwing something. Afraid of partner’s intensity. Feel emotionally closed off.

Request a time-out–  for yourself. “I’m just too angry to talk right now. Please give me time to calm down and gather my thoughts”

Relax and Calm down. Deep breathing. Go for a jog or drive. Journal. Read. Pray. Don’t use the time to gather ammunition to come back and use against your partner!

Remember what’s important– identify what you’re thinking and feeling that became difficult to discuss.

Restate you are both a team. Your relationship wins when you both work toward solutions both of you feel good about!


The Last Word – Opposites Attract and Opposites Attack


“You always have to have the last word.” My husband says this to me, well, I won’t tell you how often.

The last word  can stem from impatience. Trying to push with words. It’s one last push.

“Let’s do it—now!” on my end. The men I dated as the one I married, seemed to always say, “later.”  Whether planning for an outing, picking up groceries or looking at a broken sprinkler, nothing seemed to happen exactly NOW.  I always liked men less driven than me.

Opposities attract. And opposites attack.

Frustration breeds conflict on both sides. Conflict is not bad. It drives us to compromise. When we do our part and acknowledge our timing is not always the best, whether early or late, we can get to the middle.

I looked at a graph of the consequence to those who do not work out conflict. One side of the graph shows isolation, shutting down and worst case scenario, suicide. The other side showed anger leading to violence leading to homicide. We all know the jokes about that side!

“You’re like every other couple,” our marriage counselor moved her hands from the right side of the table to the left. “One is a slow processor and needs to think about things, the other is a fast processor, who thinks and moves quickly.”

It’s the speaking quickly and jumping to conclusions too fast—that gets us in arguments.

Steve, the slow one is in his head adding up numbers and scenarios…and comes to decisions slow. I think out loud so even if something isn’t quite where it needs to be, I’ll tweak it while I’m thinking out loud. NOught! Steve asks, “How could That work?”  Well, my first thoughts don’t always reflect the final conclusions I’m coming to—because I’m thinking out loud. This leads him to frustration.

I have to prequalify my verbage with “I’m not coming to conclusions yet, I just want us to do something about this and think with you.”

Steve must question me, “Do you really mean you are going to sell that to get this? before he shoots down my ideas. They are ideas, words not set in cement yet…I’m brainstorming.

I’m always encouraged when I leave our counselor. We have been learning to communicate for 3 years now. I don’t feel bad about that. One woman told me it took her ten years in her marriage.

“If you were alike, you wouldn’t need each other. He brings balance to you, because you would be all over the place—he slows you down. And you give him the little push to get going—you put a little light under him.” Our counselor smiled at both of us sweetly and added. “I was really happy when my husband was late this week to an event, so it isn’t always me.”

Wives..”adorn yourselves with a precious inner self, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (para 1 Peter 3:4)

Husbands…”be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect…so nothing will hinder your prayers.”  (I Peter 3:7)

Don’t take the Wind out of their Sails- Communicating God’s Way



Dad warned me in my single years, “You take the wind out of their sails.” Whether I asked for his advice or not—like father, like daughter. “You talk too much. You don’t always have to have the last word.”

This week I found a journal entry, Rolling, written those years. Timely in light of my recent daily prayer …for humility.


I’m so controlling,

I’m a ball that’s rolling

Over my man, again,

Taking the wind out of his sail.

My mouth,

A forceful gale.

God I need help…to stop myself,

I must lose

for us

to win

I don’t know what spurred this poem in those days, but we all know words have the power to build up or tear down. I’ve been working on my heart-mouth sync since I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord at 17. Then it was sarcasm and gossip. My delivery can take a twisted turn pretty quick.

Nowadays, I have a husband who picks up on the tiniest attitude, my sacred mirror. Bummer for me. I have to speak from a heart of respect and a thoughtful mind for a gracious delivery if I’m feeling at all tweaked.(impatient, judgmental, sarcastic,petty). Many times, silence is golden.

Pastor Greg Laurie gave a sermon at a harbor in Crete, Greece. Pointing to docked sailboats he explained in Ephesians 5:18 when Paul spoke of us being filled with the Spirit—it had the  meaning of these sails filled with the gusts of wind and ready for the journey.

James 3:4 says “although ships are large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go…”the tongue is like a little rudder that steers a great ship—

If any of you have struggled for a lifetime with mouth problems, I have found practicing spiritual disciplines really helps.

Start the day asking for humility and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we’re emptied of pride and selfish ways (impatience, judgment) we can be filled with His Spirit and gentleness—strength under control.

Jesus loves to be walking with us on this journey. He helped Peter, the impetuous apostle. He can help any of us who have the uncanny ability some will never know….to speak before thinking. Did I say that?

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”    Psalm 19:14