Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘arguments’

Ten Questions to Ask after a Nasty Fight

SOURCE:  DEEPAK REJU/Biblical Counseling Coalition

Picture your last fight. For some of you, it was nasty—maybe something akin to nuclear war where there’s total devastation. For others, it was tense and hard, like a mild earthquake, but by the grace of God, you got through it. But now, as you sit back and reflect on why you fought, you are just not sure. In the aftermath of an earthquake, you sort through the mess. Windows shattered. Foundations damaged. But where do you start? Take a moment and use some of the questions below to help you think about what happened in your last fight.

  1. What was the problem/conflict/fight about and when did it happen? What were the basic facts of the situation—who, where and when? What were you fighting about? You need to get this straight before you can do anything else.
  2. What was each of you coveting, desiring, or hoping for? James 4:1: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the desires (or passions) that battle within you?” You know that with every fight, there is something you want. When you are angry or frustrated, you spend so much time focused on the other person that you might forget (or even ignore) the war going on in your own heart. What desires or cravings or hopes rule your heart?Ruling desires can ruin your relationships. So get ahold of ungodly ruling desires before they wreak havoc in your life.
  3. What fears, lies, rationalizations, or self-justifications are you wrestling with? Which of these have a grip on your heart? Fears, lies, rationalizations, or self-justifications will shape and define what you do and say. Repent of these things (James 4:4-10), because they will lead you astray from what God wants.
  4. At what point did you get disappointed, annoyed, frustrated, or angry with your spouse or friend? And, why did you respond that way? In the midst of the mess created by conflict, you need to consider your reaction to your spouse or friend.
  5. Did you really understand the other person’s perspective? Ask that person if he or she feels like you understood him/her? Solomon warns that the fool is not interested in understanding someone else, but only in stating his or her own opinions (Proverbs 18:2). The fool is impulsive; he answers before he hears (Proverbs 18:13). To sort through a fight, you must understand the other person. If you don’t take the time to understand him or her, you can be misled by your assumptions.
  6. What are your typical rules of engagement in a fight? If you don’t have any, what should they be? If you are a Christian, slamming doors, screaming, cursing at your spouse or friend, throwing things, walking away, or ignoring others are not acceptable options. A Christian should be defined by grace, kindness, and love, even in the heat of “battle” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 4:6). Sadly, that’s not true for many Christians. So define your rules of engagement so that if you fight, you can fight well.
  7. Have you noticed any patterns—good and bad—in how you handle conflict? Look for the patterns that characterize your conflicts. Do you scream? Do you pout? Do you make accusations? Do you use exaggerated language—“you never come on time” or “you always forget”?
  8. What sins do you need to own up to and confess to God and your spouse or friend? Without repentance, conflict never gets truly resolved. Do you feel grief over your sin? Is it worldly sorrow or godly sorrow? If you feel regret after your conflict, but slip immediately back into the same old patterns of fighting, maybe you are experiencing worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Are you truly and genuinely grieved over your sin in your conflicts? Or have you grown comfortable with your conflicts and with your sin? You might think the conflict is about you and your friend, but ultimately it’s about you and God. When you fight with someone, your selfish desires have gotten the best of you (James 3:13). James 3:16 reminds us: “For where you have envy and selfish ambitions, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Turn from your sin and turn back to God. After you reconcile with God, go back to the other person and confess your sin to him or her.
  9. When you fight, what helps you to reconcile with each other? Every couple learns in the midst of fighting what works for them. I know one couple, who after a fight in the morning, start texting each other as soon as they get to work, so that they can work through the different parts of the conflict. By the time they get home in the evening, they’ve worked through a lot. They desire to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). They are quick to reconcile and keep short accounts. In conflict, what helps you to deal with sin and build greater understanding? Do you initiate reconciliation in the midst of the conflict? If not, why not? Are you willing to humbly compromise, or are you stubborn as a bull with your opinions?
  10. Do you typically apologize to each other and ask for forgiveness? Reconciliation is not complete until you grant forgiveness to each other. Withholding forgiveness, holding onto grudges, or ignoring the problem is not an option for Christians.

Your forgiveness in Christ was not cheap. After all, blood was shed for your sins. Because of what God has done for you in Christ, you should quickly and freely forgive others (Matthew 18:21-33; Ephesians 4:32). A thoughtful pastor has often reminded me—forgiven sinners forgive sin. Verbalize your wrong and take responsibility for it. Ask for forgiveness. Offer restitution if needed. Don’t blame the other person—“I’m sorry, but if you hadn’t done that…” Focus on your sin only

As you consider these ten questions, remember this is not a step-by-step formal or quick fix for your fights. Heart work is hard work. Be patient, honest, and humble. Ask God to help you. Work through heart issues, mistaken expectations, and sinful patterns of communication.

And trust that God can redeem any marriage or tense relationship, even yours.

Advertisements

Conflict Resolution Mistakes To Avoid

SOURCE:  Elizabeth Scott/About.com

Conventional wisdom (and research) says that good communication can improve relationships, increasing intimacy, trust and support.

The converse is also true: poor communication can weaken bonds, creating mistrust and even contempt!

Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can exacerbate conflict in a relationship. How many of these sound like something you’d do?

1. Avoiding Conflict Altogether:

Rather than discussing building frustrations in a calm, respectful manner, some people just don’t say anything to their partner until they’re ready to explode, and then blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way. This seems to be the less stressful route—avoiding an argument altogether—but usually causes more stress to both parties, as tensions rise, resentments fester, and a much bigger argument eventually results. It’s much healthier to address and resolve conflict.

2. Being Defensive:

Rather than addressing a partner’s complaints with an objective eye and willingness to understand the other person’s point of view, defensive people steadfastly deny any wrongdoing and work hard to avoid looking at the possibility that they could be contributing to a problem. Denying responsibility may seem to alleviate stress in the short run, but creates long-term problems when partners don’t feel listened to and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow.

3. Overgeneralizing:

When something happens that they don’t like, some blow it out of proportion by making sweeping generalizations. Avoid starting sentences with, “You always…” and “You never…”, as in, “You always come home late!” or “You never do what I want to do!” Stop and think about whether or not this is really true. Also, don’t bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution, and increases the level of conflict.

4. Being Right:

It’s damaging to decide that there’s a ‘right’ way to look at things and a ‘wrong’ way to look at things, and that your way of seeing things is right. Don’t demand that your partner see things the same way, and don’t take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion. Look for a compromise or agreeing to disagree, and remember that there’s not always a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’, and that two points of view can both be valid.

5. “Psychoanalyzing” / Mind-Reading:

Instead of asking about their partner’s thoughts and feelings, people sometimes decide that they ‘know’ what their partners are thinking and feeling based only on faulty interpretations of their actions—and always assume it’s negative! (For example, deciding a late mate doesn’t care enough to be on time, or that a tired partner is denying sex out of passive-aggressiveness.) This creates hostility and misunderstandings.

6. Forgetting to Listen:

Some people interrupt, roll their eyes, and rehearse what they’re going to say next instead of truly listening and attempting to understand their partner. This keeps you from seeing their point of view, and keeps your partner from wanting to see yours! Don’t underestimate the importance of really listening and empathizing with the other person!

7. Playing the Blame Game:

Some people handle conflict by criticizing and blaming the other person for the situation. They see admitting any weakness on their own part as a weakening of their credibility, and avoid it at all costs, and even try to shame them for being ‘at fault’. Instead, try to view conflict as an opportunity to analyze the situation objectively, assess the needs of both parties and come up with a solution that helps you both.

8. Trying to ‘Win’ The Argument:

I love it when Dr. Phil says that if people are focused on ‘winning’ the argument, “the relationship loses”! The point of a relationship discussion should be mutual understanding and coming to an agreement or resolution that respects everyone’s needs. If you’re making a case for how wrong the other person is, discounting their feelings, and staying stuck in your point of view, your focused in the wrong direction!

9. Making Character Attacks:

Sometimes people take any negative action from a partner and blow it up into a personality flaw. (For example, if a husband leaves his socks lying around, looking it as a character flaw and label him ‘inconsiderate and lazy’, or, if a woman wants to discuss a problem with the relationship, labeling her ‘needy’, ‘controlling’ or ‘too demanding’.) This creates negative perceptions on both sides. Remember to respect the person, even if you don’t like the behavior.

10. Stonewalling:

When one partner wants to discuss troubling issues in the relationship, sometimes people defensively stonewall, or refuse to talk or listen to their partner. This shows disrespect and, in certain situations, even contempt, while at the same time letting the underlying conflict grow. Stonewalling solves nothing, but creates hard feelings and damages relationships. It’s much better to listen and discuss things in a respectful manner.

Eight Steps To Resolving Conflict

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Conflict is inevitable in business, marriage, families, churches and communities.

Below are eight (8) rules to follow if you want to have a productive disagreement and actually solve the problem.

1. Define the problem or conflict to be discussed and stick to the issue. Many disagreements get nowhere or deteriorate into brawls because the issue that started the conflict has gotten lost in the midst of ugly words or past issues that are thrown into the discussion.

2. When possible, plan the time. Preparing for fights isn’t always possible; sometimes they just erupt. But if you know there is a touchy issue that needs to be addressed, make a time to discuss it when both are rested and ready. It’s difficult to fight fairly and constructively when you’re tired, stressed out and distracted with other obligations.

3. Listen carefully to the other person’s perspective. Show attentiveness and respect with both your body language and words. (James 1:19; Proverbs 18:2)

4. Aim for a win-win solution that works. The integrity and well-being of our relationships are more important than the issue. Fighting to get your way or to prove you’re right is not godly. (Philippians 2:2-3 James 4:1-3)

5. Commit to do no harm. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Romans 13:10) We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Remember, our spouse is our very closest neighbor. Be gentle.

6. Tame your tongue – words can heal and can wound. (Proverbs 12:18) Do not use your tongue as a weapon to murder someone else. (Matthew 5:22) Watch your voice tone and body language. Do they communicate caring and openness or defensiveness and hostility? (Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 25:20; 1 Peter 2:17)

7. If you are unable to fight fairly, take a time out until you can, but make a plan to return to the issue. Don’t just ignore it hoping it will go away. (Ephesians 4:25,26; Matthew 5:23-24)

8. If the other person breaks these rules, don’t react in kind. (Proverbs 15:1) Remember, we overcome evil with good, not more evil. (Romans 12:17-21) Things deteriorate pretty rapidly when two sinners sin against each other at the same time. (Galatians 5:13-15)

One Liners to Avoid in An Argument

Cruel, sarcastic or aggressive wisecracks and retorts can quickly cripple the growth of relationships. Here are some expressions to to shun like the plague, together with kinder (and safer) alternatives.

SOURCE:  Peter Pearson, Ph.D

They slice and dice, causing wounds not easily healed by pacifying words.

They inflame like a blowtorch on tinder.

They suck the life out of all that they touch.

What are they?

They’re the one-liners couples fling at each other during arguments, the cruel and aggressive wisecracks or retorts that escalate a fight like nothing else.

And when these zingers begin to outnumber the kind words spoken to each other, they cripple the growth of relationships.

How to argue without hurting could be the most important relationship survival skill ever

Learning how to communicate well in a conflict — how to argue without hurting and insulting each other — is possibly the most important relationship survival skill ever. It increases personal happiness, relationship satisfaction and peace of mind—and reduces divorce anddomestic violence rates.

Here, then, are a few one-liners to avoid, along with suggestions for better alternatives:

1) “That’s not what’s happening here!”  This is just one of many versions of the line: “I’m right and you’re wrong!” And whether you say it or just think it, “You’re wrong!” creates a lose-lose situation.

Try this approach instead:“Well, here’s another perspective or point of view…”

2) “You always…” or “You never…” Starting a sentence with either of these phrases is guaranteed to raise tempers.

Be specific. Talk about a particular incident. Rather than complaining, “You never listen to me,” try something like this: “When you respond that way, I conclude you don’t want to understand me in the way I’d like you to.”.

3) “You really know how to hurt me.”  This line suggests that the other person is intentionally trying to hurt you. It also implies that someone other than yourself has power over what you feel. It places you in the role of emotional “victim.” But you’re not a victim–you have choices whether or not to be hurt by someone’s actions.

Try this instead: “What you just said/did really stung. It was especially painful because…”

4) “How can you be that way?”  This isn’t really a question. It’s an assault that implies, “You’re a terrible/insensitive person, and you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Try this instead: “When you did/said that, it really hurt. I don’t know if you intended to hurt me, or if you were frustrated yourself about something. Can you help me understand why you did that?”

This is communication under stress at its highest level. You not only avoid defending yourself by explaining the pain you are in, you actually investigate the distress your partner is in. This can make it much easier for your partner to hear the impact of what they did on you.

Of course, these are mild, compared to the doozies we come up with in the heat of an argument. But for love to flourish and deepen, for healthy and long-lasting relationships, we need to learn how to incorporate acceptance, self-understanding, ompassion and tolerance into our conflicts.

And maybe one-liners like, “I love you!”

Arguing Well: 5 Helpful Tips

SOURCE:  Counseling Solutions

It is impossible to live and not argue or disagree with another person. From birth to the grave, disagreements are part of our life. The odds are so stacked against us that you will not be able to get through life without conflict. Because this is true, it would be good to learn how to argue or disagree with others.

Here Are Five Helpful Tips To Help You Disagree Well

Expect the Obvious – A right understanding of the doctrines of man and sin will bring your expectations down to a realistic level. There are no authentic, innate, self-righteous people in the world today. We all are sinners. No one has escaped the curse of Adam. I think when we are surprised by another person’s sin, we have forgotten the obvious: sin is the one thing we do very well. I am not making a case for you to sin more or making light of sin, but I am stating the obvious: we are sinners.

Be Suspicious – The only time when suspicion is allowed is when you are suspicious of yourself. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:3-5 that if you realize the log is in your eye, then you are in a good place to engage another sinner. I am well-aware that I’m self-deceived and because of this, I’m typically not understanding the conflict correctly. A person who is humbly suspicious of himself is a person who has true understanding.

Remember Who You Really Are – This one thing I know: I killed Christ. Because of my sin, the Father executed His Son on the Cross. Because of my sin, the Son willingly chose to die on the Cross. It was my sin that put the Son on the Tree. I am the biggest sinner I know. All of the things that have been done to me do not compare to what I have done to Him. All other sins cannot compare to the sin I have committed. Paul understood this, even at the end of his life. He also understood that his great God showed mercy on him, the chief of sinners. Most assuredly, I can extend a similar mercy toward others.

Ask Questions – Typically I charge into conflict making statements, rather than asking questions. I’m rarely suspicious of my tendency to be self-deceived and, therefore, I state my opinion with insufficient data. More times than not it would have been better for me to ask more questions before stating my opinion. Because of my high opinion of my views and the rightness that I generally feel, I tend to not ask enough questions, choosing rather to make more statements.

Little to Die Over – As I reflect over my past arguments, it is hard to remember any of them that were important enough to sin against God and others. I remember as a kid getting into an argument with my four brothers over a Snickers Bar. We were very poor and on that day we had only one candy bar. One brother measured the candy with a ruler, but did not divide the five parts equally. An argument ensued. Sadly, many of my arguments have not evolved much beyond the trivialities of dividing a candy bar.

How Can You Respond to this Article?

Perhaps you are currently in a disagreement with another person. Let me ask you some questions, based on the five tips above and encourage you to respond to God first and then to the person you’re in conflict with:

  1. Expectations: Are you really surprised your offender has done wrong? (Assuming they have done wrong.) Can you extend grace? If not, why not? If not, then you have totally missed the point of the Gospel.
  2. Suspicious: Are you more suspicious of yourself? …or your friend? If you are genuinely more suspicious of yourself, then will you respond in grace to your offender?
  3. Remember: Who is the biggest sinner you know? If you say anything other than yourself, then you have some heart-work to do. But if you really believe you are the worst sinner you know, then you can extend mercy to your offender, because mercy has been extended to you. This is the point of the Gospel.
  4. Questions: Do you really think you have all the facts? Ask yourself if you are missing anything. Assume you are. Get more data. Ask more questions. Make less statements.
  5. Trivialities – How important is it for you to be right? How important is the issue you are arguing over? Is this really a hill to die on?

Will you go to the person you are in conflict with and seek to reconcile the relationship? This is the point of the Gospel.

Tag Cloud