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''Can We Talk?!''

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By amie - Posted on 01 August 2005

by Amie May
My husband and I married at a young age. We didn't have a need to argue or attest our character to one another. We believed that we each held the traits such as trustworthiness, respect, fairness, and caring. We were deeply in love and our heads were planted firmly in the clouds.
My husband and I married at a young age. We didn't have a need to argue or attest our character to one another. We believed that we each held the traits such as trustworthiness, respect, fairness, and caring. We were deeply in love and our heads were planted firmly in the clouds.
Financial responsibility wasn't something that we learned growing up, so life gave us these lessons. The lesson concerning communicatory responsibility came even later. Not only did we lack that, but we lacked communication skills in general as per working out disagreements. Thankfully, we didn't disagree on much; that is, until our children were born.

Every couple will disagree from time to time, of that we can be sure. Not every disagreement need turn into verbal battles.

From my own experience I'll tell ya that it is a knock-down-drag-out struggle to parent as a team when one doesn't know the difference between an argument and a productive discussion -- and there were two of us! Heck, after so many interruptions - after so many times of speaking until blue in the face and not being heard and no solution in sight, frustration tends to take the wheel. Inner dialogue begins to sound like "How inconsiderate", "..closed minded", "thoughtless", "mean", "selfish", etc. In the "heat" of it all especially, those character traits that were once understood, seem to be far from in sight or mind. I don't think that I need to say just how damaging character assassination is to a relationship?

The purpose of an argument is to "offer proof". It consists of a series of statements leading to a premise or conclusion and there are typically three outcomes of an argument: 1. Win 2. Loose. 3. Deadlock. Certainly anyone could compromise, yet that would require discussion and for those stuck in the cycle of arguing, that is difficult and unlikely.

The first step for me in stopping the cycle, was to really ponder who I was talking to. I would think, if he said to me "I don't believe that you love me", what might I say in return? I married an honest man, who was thoughtful, caring, unselfish, and considerate. Upon just conscious thought of that, I began to consider his feelings. I certainly knew what would drive me to feel so passionately about proving a point that I would talk over him and all of the other ugly stuff that goes with an argument, but I hadn't really considered it from his perspective. That lead to more realization of my pushing for him to listen and all the while I had not been listening to him. We had argued over the same thing for a good 10 years before I came to realize that I had no idea what his point of view was.

At the core of good communication is a sincere effort to understand the other person's viewpoint. Understanding the other's thoughts and feelings is important before differences can be expressed outside of going into battle with one another. My interest shifted from proving my point at all cost (whether he paid, I paid, or our children paid by having parents who were fighting so often), to protecting his and my family's feelings and (especially his) dignity. Whether or not he was interested in compromising anymore, I was ready to give anything that it took to basically have my husband back and the happy family that I wished for. I was willing to give up winning and being right, for winning by giving it up and being happy.

It takes a bit of endurance because it requires mindful response rather than reacting, but it only takes one person to stop the cycle of fighting.. just one. Response requires self-knowledge, discipline, and forethought. It is good to have a "keep calm" plan prepared when faced with a possibly volatile situation. Reaction is born of habit and is based upon things that have happened in the past. It doesn't esteem every experience as a new one.

Active listening means focusing attention on the speaker. It means following the speaker as if you were in their shoes, acknowledging points in the speech encouraging their train of thought. It means to be involved by responding to questions and showing interest. Many times in conflict, people are half listening and half thinking of something else -- often formulating a response. It is helpful to repeat back what one thinks that the speaker has said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener really understood. If the listener didn't, the speaker can explain some more. Misunderstandings can originate from the speaker OR the listener. The idea is not to find fault for the breakdown, but to accept that there is one and that further communication is needed. When one actively listens, the other feels heard and understood.

Learning each other's languages enables clearer, more open, and therefore more effective communication.

Now for why I am posting this here -->

Completely fictional scenario: Bob says to Joe that he is a Calvinist and he believes the way that he does based on his understanding of Scripture. Joe comments "You must not be getting that from Scripture because.." (because why?) "it doesn't agree with my viewpoint".

The above scenario is calling into question Bob's honesty. Bob stated very clearly that "he believes the way that he does based on his understanding of Scripture". If an argument ensues from that point, Bob would be defending his character. Proof that he is not a liar would mean proving that his doctrine is the right one. I see this happen all too often, and just as I did in my marital relationship, proof of rightness is given at all cost - whether that be the other person's dignity, reputation, calling into question their intelligence, and more. Perhaps it even costs the "prover" time away from their family, friends, contributions to physical health,etc.

This results in less understanding, hard feelings, and full on brick walls between Christians. I believe that there is Truth in Scripture. I feel that if we all learn all that there is to learn from the Bible, that we will all arrive at the same point of view. I also feel that we have had different life experiences, we are at different levels of education (and I am not referring to degrees, I am referring to knowledge), we originate from different cultures, live in different parts of the world, and all of these things and more contribute to differing levels of understanding (whether you think that yours is higher or not). We are all working on different parts of the same puzzle and we could study for our entire lives and never arrive at "all knowing".

In turning Scripture to "doctrine wars" with the Bible as the #1 choice of weapon in defense of personal character, spiritual warfare takes priority to any productive discussion.

Similar to what I did in my marital relationship, why not ponder what your response would be if a person said to you "I don't believe that you are a Christian." What might you say in return? At one time the answer was "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) If we "have not love", we "have nothing" and love is age lasting.

1 Corinthians 13

13 And now faith, hope, and love, these three things remain; but the greatest of these is love.

Let us communicate with one another with the purpose of protecting the dignity of those with whom we disagree. May we choose effective communication for the sake of building up the Christian community in understanding of one another and of "The greatest story ever told" which we all cherish.

And by the way, hubby and I --> doing great!

the_prophet_whiteboy's picture

Amie, good article . You said "You must not be getting that from Scripture because.." (because why?) Thats a fair arguement, and I think you would agree that one needs to say Yes I get that from scripture and here it is....
People obviously will have different views concerning, baptism ,Lords supper, and those preterist that still hold to the church being a brick building and having a "pastor" aka Sheperd.

I guess my point is we need to contuinually go to scripture!
P.S. The comments about Chuch and Pastors was no way in connection with Pastor S.Frost or his church. Just wanted to clear that , so no one may be offened. Just my two cents on that.

Also, I noticed that you are the "President" of Women Beyond. Do you have a vice president, CEO ect? : )

amie's picture

"Amie, good article . You said "You must not be getting that from Scripture because.." (because why?) Thats a fair arguement, and I think you would agree that one needs to say Yes I get that from scripture and here it is...."

So you feel that they do not get it from Scripture based upon their saying so? Are you questioning their honesty? Otherwise, it is just an exchange of one another's understanding of Scripture, which I love to do.

Paige Marshall is VP, yes. The rest is being established.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

jmarvin's picture

Good article Amie. Keep them coming! I think what you've stated rings very true for all of us.

A couple of observations and comments:

"Reaction is born of habit and is based upon things that have happened in the past."

--or the examples of others.......
Very true, at least with me. I've learned over time that I was reacting to certain situations just as my father did, all the time knowing that it was not the best way to respond. I can say that over time there is less and less of this type of reaction, but sometimes, it does get the better of me......lol

"Financial responsibility wasn't something that we learned growing up, so life gave us these lessons."

Ditto to that.....lol

"Bob says to Joe that he is a Calvinist and he believes the way that he does based on his understanding of Scripture. Joe comments "You must not be getting that from Scripture because.." (because why?) "it doesn't agree with my viewpoint".

Yes, this describes a good friend and I. We've had good knock down drag out debates/discussions/arguements over Scripture. Your abmonition to "uphold the dignity" of the other" during the discussions is received. Thank you.

"Similar to what I did in my marital relationship, why not ponder what your response would be if a person said to you "I don't believe that you are a Christian." What might you say in return?"

I have been asked this question before or better yet it is asserted by another that I'm not a Christian, usually because of my preterist perspective. I've come to respond....You may be right, now let's talk Scripture......lol

Again, good article.

JM

Virgil's picture

Amie, good points. It is especially easy for people to get into heated arguments online and forgot about the person that is on the receiving end. Not many positive things come out of something like that, so hopefully we can all take this to heart and try to do better.

amie's picture

JM said "I can say that over time there is less and less of this type of reaction, but sometimes, it does get the better of me......lol"

Virgil said "..so hopefully we can all take this to heart and try to do better."

Dr Phil says (yes I'm a fan, I know, "corny", lol) "you behave your way into success or behave your way into failure".

I can tell you that effective communication didn't seem to be in my nature. For the most part, impatience was the issue for me. The more that I listen, the more that I feel the pay off for listening. Before, I assumed that I knew where people were going and so I learned very little, lol. Now, I learn a lot and I like it.

By changing my behavior ("zipping my lips", lol) not only have my relationships become more successful, but it is becoming more natural for me to listen. Not FULLY yet, but I'm getting there ;).

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

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