Ever feel like resolving conflict is just too hard?

It’s time for a new episode of the To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast–and I hope I can help you.

Please listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well.

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast (and remember–you can subscribe at iTunes or anywhere where you listen to podcasts!):

Main Segment: Why I’ve Stopped Resolving Conflict

Keith and I have done the “conflict” talks at marriage conferences off and on for about 15 years, and recently I’ve figured out why the old talks never sat well with me (the newer ones are much better!). They combined all kinds of things that are actually quite different. See, I think there are three different ways that we can have conflict:

  • Silly Conflicts (where we just get ticked off, and no real resolution is needed except to take a chill pill)
  • Serious Conflicts (where you can’t agree, or feel very disconnected)
  • Sinful Conflicts (where someone has done something really wrong)

Often we treat all conflicts like they’re a combination of serious/sinful, where we need to figure out how to say what we need, how to make a decision, how to walk through forgiveness.

But honestly, a lot of conflicts are just silly when we get ticked off (tons more about that in 9 Thoughts That Can Change your Marriage!).

I think it’s important to understand the difference, because framing all conflict in terms of forgiveness also sets up serious conflicts, where we’re simply disagreeing, as if we’re enemies opposing and hurting each other, when that’s not necessarily the case at all.

In this podcast, I share the change that Keith and I found revolutionary in our marriage, and that was Thought 7 in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (Find the Win-Win!). Too often when we disagree we actually name the issue wrong. Instead of saying the issue is “should we move?”, “should we switch churches?” “should we pay down debt before we buy a house”, take a step back and say, “what is it that we each need from each other right now?” That clarifies so much and makes it easier to make those decisions.

Listen in to the two scenarios I share! Seriously, people have told me that this one insight has changed how they do conflict.

Are you PeaceKEEPING or PeaceMAKING?

There’s a huge difference between the two. And if you don’t get it right–you’ll never be able to feel truly intimate in your marriage.

There’s a better way!

Millennial Marriage: Why Are Millennials so Depressed?

Millennials are having a mental health crisis. (that’s the link to the article we were discussing)

And it’s not due to the economy, or school pressure, or other things you might think. It seems instead to be due to cell phone use and social media. So Rebecca and I sat down this week and tried to figure out how parents can help kids build more face-to-face relationships and rely less on their phones.

My big tips: Screen free family dinners. Family activities that don’t involve screens (like family board games). Have a central charging station for devices at night. Here are some other posts that can help:

Reader Question: Is it wrong to want my husband to share stuff about me on social media?

A great question came in that related so well to the main segment I was talking about this week that I decided to run it today. She asked:

My husband says he doesn’t like social media but he’ll post about his own projects. He’s only ever posted one picture of me. The rest is me tagging him in stuff. I post about him sometimes. Is it wrong that I want him to do that, too?

Okay, let’s take a step back. The question isn’t really “is it wrong to want my husband to post about me on social media.” The question is: “how do I help my husband understand that this is one way I feel loved?”

Totally different question! In the podcast I explained why people often don’t understand that the other person really does experience this as love, and experiences NOT doing this as lack of love. And then I suggested that the couple work through the exercise in this post, about coming up with quick ways to show your spouse love. Keith and I did that years ago at the instructions of a counsellor and it helped us so much!

COMMENT: You’re Kind of Hard on the Church, Sheila

This week on Facebook I made a (rather badly worded) post about how the church doesn’t preach well that it’s better to be single than to marry someone with bad character. What I meant is that our Christian culture often gives this impression, but I just worded it wrong. Anyway, a woman commented that she liked my page, but sometimes I’m very hard on the church, and it’s very negative.

I think she has a point. I got rather passionate in the podcast as I explained why, but it really comes down to this: The longer I’ve been blogging, the more I hear from people in difficult places in their marriage, and I realize that we have to stop trying to put out fires, and we have to prevent them in the first place. And a lot of those fires are caused by the church culture we’re in.

People have really messed up views of sex. People marry the wrong person. People accept abuse. And a lot of that is because the Christian culture teaches the wrong thing.

I know I’ve been hard on many elements of Christian culture lately, because it’s been a horrible year. Big names have been revealed to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. James MacDonald is a misogynistic bully who was just fired for so many infractions, including being spiritually abusive, having anger management problems, and financial shenanigans. He also said terribly pornographic things about women. Bill Hybels was fired for sexually harrassing women. The Southern Baptist Church is in crisis because they ignored sexual abuse.

And, of course, big name books, like Love & Respect, have, for years, taught toxic things about marriage.

I believe we need Jesus. I believe that when we walk in Christian community, so many of our marriage problems can be minimized. But we need to open our eyes and see that a lot of our North American Christian culture isn’t Christian at all. When I share this, I’m not trying to tear down the church. On the contrary, I think when we point out things that are toxic and wrong, we save the church. Jesus doesn’t need us protecting things that aren’t of Him; He needs us pointing people to Him.

I likely don’t always get the balance right. And let me tell you, on a personal level, it is exhausting seeing all the dysfunction that is out there. I have to keep my eye on it because it affects so many, but it’s terribly depressing. But I’ll try to get that balance right, because I believe that the body of Christ is what we all really need, and I want to help us all find true expressions of Christian love.

What do you think? Do you need a new way of resolving conflict? How can we handle when the Christian community doesn’t act like Christians? Let’s talk in the comments!

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