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Managing Conflicts Matt.7 Phil.4

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MANAGING CONFLICT  (MATT. 7:24-27; PHIL. 4:2-7)

INTRO (EX: WILMA & HARRY 50TH) THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH WAR & CONFLICT—TERRORIST ATTACKS, KIDNAPPING, MURDERS & WHEN ONE CONFLICT ENDS ANOTHER SPRINGS UP. MARRIAGES HAVE THEIR SHARE OF CONFLICT—SOME TRIVIAL & OTHERS MAJOR—WHY?  WE ARE IMPERFECT, DIFFERENT, SINNERS. RESEARCH SAYS COUPLES WHO ARE HAPPY & STAY MARRIED HAVE SAME NUMBER OF DISAGREEMENTS & CONFLICTS AS COUPLES WHO ARE UNHAPPY & DIVORCE. THE DIFF. IS ABILITY TO MANAGE CONFLICT (SAME PRINCPLE APPLIES TO CHURCHES) THE DIVORCE RATE COULD BE CUT IN HALF IF COUPLES LEARNED TO WORK THROUGH CONFLICTS. (CALEB & CATHRINE’S MARRIAGE LOOKED LIKE IT MIGHT NOT SURVIVE—JUST ANOTHER CASUALTY—BUT WITH GOD’S HELP THEY WERE ABLE TO TURN THINGS AROUND. 

I.                  FACTS ABOUT RESOLVING CONFLICTS

MOST PEOPLE DON’T SAY “I DO” THINKING THE MARRIAGE WONT LAST—UNLESS YOUR LARRY KING OR BRITTNEY SPEARS OR THAT WOMAN WITH GUINESS RECORD—THE MAJORITY DON’T HAVE ADEQUATE PREPARATION; DON’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT; DON’T REALIZE MARRIAGE TAKES HARD WORK.  THE 4 MAJOR HOT BUTTONS ARE MONEY, SEX, COMMUNICATION, CHILDREN. THERE ARE OTHERS; RELATIVES, CHORES, HOBBIES, WORK, RELIGION.

A.   NOT ALL CONFLICTS CAN BE SOLVED—MARRIAGE CONFLICTS CAN EITHER BE SOLVED OR THEY ARE PERPETUAL—ABOUT 70% ARE PERPETUAL. WHEN YOU CHOOSE A MATE YOU ARE CHOOSING A SET OF UNSOLVABLE PROBLEMS. BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS!  YOU DON’T HAVE TO RESOLVE ALL CONFLICTS FOR MARRIAGE TO BE HEALTHY. THE KEY IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE DIFFERENCES AND ADJUST. YES, SOLVE WHAT YOU CAN (WIN/WIN)—CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN (HOLY SPIRIT CAN HELP US DO THAT!) AND THEN COPE WITH REST---GRACE, HUMOR, PATIENCE, EFFORT!

B.   CONFLICTS DON’T SOLVE THEMSELVES—THERE IS TENDENCY TO DENY OR RUN FROM PROBLEMS. WE CANT PRETEND PROBLEMS DON’T EXIST—THAT JUST MAKES THEM BIGGER—AND MOST OF THE TIME THE REAL PROBLEM GETS LOST IN FLOOD OF LITTLE SIDE ISSUES. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX—RESOLVING CONFLICT TAKES TIME—EFFORT—PATIENCE

C.   CONFLICTS ARE OFTEN DRIVEN BY PAST—(EX: 2 MEN WERE TALKING ABOUT MARRIAGE—ONE SAID EVERY TIME MY WIFE & I ARGUE SHE GETS HISTORICAL—THE OTHER SAID, NO, YOU MEAN HYSTERICAL.  NO, THE FIRST SAID, HISTORICAL—SHE BRINGS UP EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER DONE WRONG)  AL MOHLER SAYS “WE LIVE IN A DIVORCE CULTURE WHICH REMOVES OBLIGATION & SACRED PROMISES. I MAY FEEL MARRIED TODAY—I MAY NOT FEEL MARRIED TOMORROW. OUR CULTURE IS SO SEXUALLY CONFUSED THAT BLESSINGS OF SEX ARE SEVERED FROM VOWS & OBLIGATIONS OF MARRIAGE. WE CAN HAVE SEX WITHOUT BABIES, BABIES WITHOUT SEX, AND BOTH WITHOUT MARRIAGE”   WHEN HUSBAND & WIFE COME TOGETHER AFTER LONG DAY OF WORK ITS OFTEN LIKE TWO WEATHER FRONTS MEETING—SHE MAY HAVE SURPRESSED HER EMOTIONS & DEALT WITH SERIES OF SMALL THINGS THAT HAVE BUILT UP DURING THE DAY.  SHE WANTS TO TALK—HE IS TIRED OF DEALING WITH PEOPLE OR STRESS OF HIS JOB AND WANTS SILENCE OR TO JUST RETREAT INTO SOMETHING ELSE. WHEN AN ISSUE ARISES WE TEND TO HANDLE IT THE WAY WE ALWAYS HAVE & GO INTO WHAT MARRIAGE INSTITURE CALLS “FEAR DANCE”---EACH TRYING TO GAIN CONTROL & WIN. FORGET THE PAST & PRESS ON TO LEARN HOW TO BETTER LOVE & HONOR EACH OTHER.

D.   CONFLICTS TEND TO FOCUS ON SMALL STUFF—MANY DIVORCES BEGIN IN BATHROOM—TOOTHPASTE TUBE OR TOILET PAPER OR TOILET SEAT. BUNCH OF LITTLE THINGS THAT CAN DRIVE YOU CRAZY. YOU WONDER WHY HE/SHE KEEPS DOING IT IF HE/SHE KNOWS IT IRRITATES .  THESE SMALL THINGS ARE LIKE TERMITES THAT SECRETLY EAT AWAY AT A TREE/HOUSE OVER PERIOD OF TIME. THESE SMALL THINGS EAT AWAY ON INSIDE AND THEN EACH WONDERS “WHAT HAPPENED?” THE KEY IS TO DO THINGS THAT BLESS (WORKS GREAT IN CHURCH TOO!) PURPOSE TO SHOW LOVE—BE SERVANT—TO FORGIVE. THIS IS ACT OF WILL. THIS WHAT THE LOVE/DARE JOURNAL IS ALL ABOUT. (EX: COUPLE MARRIED 65 YRS WERE ASKED ABOUT THEIR LONG MARRIAGE. THE MAN SAID “WELL, EARLY ON MY WIFE WENT BLIND AND LATER I WENT DEAF) MAYBE A LITTLE BLINDNESS & DEAFNESS WOULD HELP!  COVENANT LOVE OVERLOOKS FLAWS OF OTHERS—AFTER ALL WE ARE ALL FLAWED & FALLEN!

II.               UNHEALTHY WAYS TO DEAL WITH CONFLICT

A.   BEHAVE AS A TURTLE—TURTLES AVOID CONFLICT. IF TROUBLE GETS TOO CLOSE THEY PULL THEIR HEAD/FEET INTO THEIR SHELL. THEIR ATTITUDE IS CONFLICT IS WRONG & DANGEROUS. (MOST MEN ARE LIKE THIS) BUT UNRELSOVED CONFLICTS WILL GROW LIKE AN UNTREATED INFECTION

B.   BEHAVE AS A SHARK—SHARKS SPEED TO CONFLICT. THEIR TEETH ARE BARED—READY FOR ATTACK. THEY WANT TO PROVE THEIR SUPERIORITY. BUT IN MARRIAGE FOR EITHER SPOUSE TO LOSE IS UNHEALTHY.  WE WANT IS A WIN/WIN ENDING. 

III.           SOME PRINCIPLES TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS

(THIS WORKS WELL FOR CHURCH TOO!)

A.   THINK LIKE A TEAM—COVENANT IMPLIES ONENESS OF HEART/PURPOSE. TWO PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER WITH GOD’S LOVE/PROTECTION AROUND THEM (IF THEY ARE BELIEVERS---MUCH HARDER IF NOT—GROW IN YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP—PRAY & SEEK HELP OF BODY)  CONFLICTS THRIVE ON SELFISHNESS—TEAM DOESN’T HAVE AN “I” IN IT.  (EX: WIFE CAME HOME FROM SEMINAR ON GETTING SPARK BACK IN MARRIAGE—HER HUSBAND WAS ASLEEP—SO SHE WOKE HIM & SAID “HONEY WE NEED TO GET ROMANTIC SPARK BACK—KISS ME LIKE YOU USE TO & NIBBLE ON MY EAR”  HUSBAND SAID “I’VE GOT MTG IN MORNING.  WIFE SAID “HONEY I MEAN NOW. I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU GET SLEEP TIL YOU NIBBLE ON MY EAR.”  HUSBAND SAID “ALRIGHT, IF I’M NOT GOING TO GET ANY SLEEP TILL I NIBBLE ON YOUR EAR—HAND ME MY TEETH OFF THE DRESSER.)  THINGS WILL CHANGE—I NEED TO MAKE COMMITMENT TO DO WHAT I CAN TO MAKE MARRIAGE HEALTHY/STRONG

B.   WILLING TO LOSE TO WIN---IN THE BOOK “TO WIN AT MARRIAGE LEARN TO LOSE” THE AUTHOR SAYS “WHEN COUPLES SURRENDER THEIR DESIRES IN THE INTEREST OF SERVING EACH OTHER THEY WILL DIFFUSE THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL THAT IS BEHIND MOST CONFRONTATIONS. –LOSING BECOMES PATH TO WINNING FOR BOTH PARTIES. BE WILLING TO LISTEN WITH HEART & U NDERSTAND WHAT THE OTHER IS SAYING.  YOU MAY HAVE TO STOP & ASK OR REPEAT WHAT YOU THINK YOU HEARD.

C.   FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE—SOME RESEARCH FOUND SPECIFIC RATIO BETWEEN POSITIVE THINGS & NEGATIVE THINGS IN STABLE MARRIAGE. THE MAGIC RATIO IS 5 TO1—5 TIMES AS MUCH POSITIVE INPUT AS NEGATIVE & MARRIAGE LIKELY TO BE STABLE. FOCUS MORE ON WHAT IS RIGHT WITH MARRIAGE THAN WHAT IS WRONG (GOOD IDEA FOR CHURCH TOO!) A FEW BAD TIMES DON’T WIPE ALL GOOD TIMES

D.   TAKE MONEY ISSUES SERIOUSLY—PROBLEMS  WITH MONEY ARE ON TOP OF LIST. MONEY USAGE REVEALS A LOT. MONEY IS POWER. BOTH SPOUSES MUST BE WISE & THOUGHTFUL WHEN SPENDING OR MAKING DECISIONS TO SPEND. IF YOU CANT AGREE ON SPENDING OR HAVE SEPARATE ACCOUNTS YOUR MARRIAGE MAY SUFFER. IF ONE IS SPENDER & ONE SAVER YOU MUST FIND WAYS TO COME TOGETHER. COVENANT MEANS GIVING UP CONTROL—ITS NOT MY MONEY OR YOUR MONEY

E.   DON’T SEPARATE SEX FROM RELATIONSHIP—DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO KEEP INTIMATE PART OF MARRIAGE FREE FROM CRITICISM OR NEGATIVE COMMENTS. DON’T ARGUE OR FIGHT IN BEDROOM. LEARN ABOUT LIKES/DISLIKES AND EACH OTHER’S NEEDS—BE COMPASSIOINATE/RESPECTFUL. TALK ABOUT THOSE NEEDS IN A NON-THREATENING WAY. (1 PET.3:7)  THERE IS STRONG SPIRITUAL BOND WHEN SOULS OF TWO PEOPLE COME TOGETHER.

F.    WATCH YOUR WORDS—PROV. 18:21 “POWER OF LIFE & DEATH IS IN THE TONGUE”  WORDS YOU USE CAN BRING LIFE OR DEATH TO MARRIAGE.  PROV. 12:18 “RECKLESS WORDS PIERCE LIKE A SWORD BUT TONGUE OF THE WISE BRINGS HEALING”  PROV.15:1 “A GENTLE ANSER TURNS AWAY WRATH, HARSH WORDS STIR UP ANGER”  (EX: MAN TIRED OF FIGHTING---WORDS/PHRASES YOU WANT TO AVOID) GARY SMALLEY SAYS WHEN YOU BURY ANGER INSIDE IT IS ALWAYS BURIED ALIVE—CANT HANDLE IT BY DENYING, BLAMING OR JUSTIFYING—UNRESLOVED ANGER GIVES SATAN A FOOTHOLD.

G.  PRACTICE FORGIVENESS OFTEN—JOSH MCDOWEL SAYS FORGIVENESS IS OIL OF REALTIONSHIPS—IT REDUCES FRICTION & ALLOWS PEOPLE TO COME CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. UNFORGIVENESS BLOCKS PEOPLE FROM BEING OPEN & VULNERABLE TO ONE ANTOHER. AN UNFORGIVING PARTNER DESTROYS POTENTIAL FOR INTIMACY IN RELATIONSHIP—LIKE PLUGGING  UP AN EXHAUST PIPE.  TWO IMPERFECT PEOPLE LIVING TOGETHER ARE BOUND TO CAUSE SOME HURT/PAIN—SOMETIME INTENTIONAL—SOMETIMES NOT. FAILURE TO FORGIVE MAKES US PRISONERS OF OUR EMOTIONS AND MAKES US MISERABLE. IT CAN LEAD TO “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” AND DEPRESSION.  FORGIVENESS IS GODS RELEASE VALVE FOR THE PRESSURE/PAIN IN HEART. FORGIVE WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT & WHEN YOU DON’T. FORGIVING IS NOT FOGETING—ONLY TIME WILL ALLOW PAIN OF EVENT TO SUBSIDE SO IT NO LONGER CONTROLS US. LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. COVENANT LOVE FORGIVES.

CONCLUSION:  GOD INTENDED MARRIAGE TO BRING OUT BEST IN US—BUT LEAVE GOD OUT & MARRIAGE CAN BRING OUT THE BEAST IN US. WE ARE SPIRIT BEINGS WHO NEED RECONNECTED TO GOD BECAUSE OF SIN. JESUS RECONNECTS & RECONCILES. REALLY EVERY MARRIAGE PROBLEM IS FIRST A SPIRITUAL PROBLEM.  GET RIGHT WITH GOD!  DIE TO SELF—DIE TO BEING RIGHT—DIE TO GETTING YOUR OWN WAY AND BEING IN CONTROL.

   NUM. 6:24-26  (PRIESTLY BLESSING)

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