When I was a newlywed, I flew from Indianapolis, INDIANA, to Lawton, OKLAHOMA– 829 miles–(with multiple plane changes and weather delays) wearing nothing but a black teddy . . . and an overcoat.
I was 22. I didn’t care about things like gravity. So, I put on that flimsy piece of lingerie with a wear expectancy of about 6 minutes and wore it all the way from Indiana to Oklahoma to surprise my new husband.
That’d never work today with the souped up security in airports. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit those were THE most uncomfortable 8 hours of my life. But, trust me: Sometimes being uncomfortable for a little while pays off big in the long-run, especially when it comes to dealing with conflict in marriage or in any relationship.
I’ve learned that I can’t avoid the discomfort of conflict in relationships, so I’ve got to find effective ways to deal with it.
Believe it or not, wearing a black lace teddy for 8 HOURS is a lot like conflict. It’s uncomfortable. It can easily creep into places it’s not supposed to go. And, once it’s in there, you’re in trouble.
They soak lace in starch to stiffen it so it’s easier to sew. That’s not a problem if you only wear it for 5 minutes. Wear it for 8 hours and it becomes a self-inflicted wound: Death by wedgie.
I know conflict is inevitable, but sometimes I’ll avoid it anyway.
But there’s a direct correlation between how willing I am to dig into difficult issues and the strength of my relationships.
Early in our marriage, I didn’t address issues because I didn’t know how. I’d developed unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it was hard to change them without a concentrated effort.
Here are 8 strategies I’ve found effective in resolving conflict in my marriage or any other relationship:
1. If you’re married like I am, always view your marriage as a life-long commitment.
When conflict arises, if I think “I love this person, and we’re committed to each other,” I’m more eager to find a solution.
2. Don’t view the other person as my enemy.
We might not agree on an issue but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a solution. I’ve got to remember that we’re on the same team, even though it may not feel like it sometimes. I try to remember what attracted me to my husband or friend in the first place and concentrate on the kind and thoughtful aspects of personality.
3. Resolution should be the goal not checkmate.
Resolution should be the goal not checkmate. If I back the other person into a corner, you’d better believe they’re going to dig their heels in. If we solve the problem, we both win. So, I try to find points we agree upon and move towards the middle.
4. Be willing to give up something.
I’m not always going to get what you want, so I have to be willing to compromise. In a healthy relationship, you desire to put the other person’s needs before your own. Sometimes I have to give something to get something. But in relationships, it’s always worth it in the long run.
5. Be willing to forgive.
This is much tougher than it sounds. If true forgiveness isn’t granted, that conflict is likely to rear its ugly head again.
6. Listen to the other person’s feelings, even if you disagree.
There’s a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. Everyone wants to be heard. When you care about someone, you want to listen. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, (I Cor. 13:4-5) and it doesn’t shout someone down during conflict. To resolve conflict successfully, try to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. This can be difficult, especially when you don’t agree.
7. Use “I feel” instead of “you should.”
When I use “I feel” language to express myself, I run less risk of putting the other person on the defense. “I feel taken for granted when you say you are going to be home at 5:00 and you don’t arrive until 6:00.” I’m expressing my feelings. I’m not blaming or accusing the other person of anything. When I start “should-ing” on a person, they might get defensive. So I try to avoid it.
8. Don’t resort to name calling or belittling.
Traveling 8 hours in a teddy was miserable. It was wintertime. We had weather delays. The plane was hot. The lining of my coat stuck to my body. I couldn’t take it off or even unbutton it because I had no clothes underneath. I wanted to scratch inappropriately all the way home.
Boy, was I relieved to get that thing off. (Not for the reasons you may think.) But, believe me. The discomfort of wearing that teddy was worth the look on my husband’s face when I took off my coat. The discomfort of dealing with conflict is worth it in the end in any relationship.
God knows we’ll have conflict, and He tells us how to deal with it in a way that is honoring to Him. If I avoid dealing with the discomfort of conflict, I can’t grow. If for no reason other than the BIG surprise my new husband got when I arrived home and took off that coat, the discomfort was worth it. After that episode, I figured I could rock granny panties for the rest of our marriage. I’d earned it.
Is your marriage worth an 8-hour wedgie?