Quotes on “Communication and Conflict”
The following are quotes from various resources pertaining to the subject of communication and also on conflict. We pray they will minister to your situation:
• Communication is the meeting of meaning. When your meaning meets my meaning across the bridge of words, tones, acts, and deeds, when understanding occurs, then we know that we have communicated. …When two persons can share from the very center of their existence, they experience love in its truest quality. Marriage is a venture into intimacy, and intimacy is the opening of one self to another. (David Augsburger, Cherishable: Love and Marriage)
• The most common mistake couples make while trying to resolve conflicts is to respond before they have the full picture. This inevitably leads to arguments. When people respond too quickly, they often respond to the wrong issue. Listening helps us focus on the heart of the conflict. When we listen, understand, and respect each other’s ideas, we can then find a solution in which both of us are winners. (Dr Gary Chapman, from the article, “Solving Conflicts Without Arguing, featured in the Summer 2007 issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine)
• Marriage is a call to listen. Even when our spouses misbehave or create difficult situations for us, we’re to tune in to God’s still, small voice and ask, “What is it you want me to learn from this? How are you stretching me at this time? What are you trying to do in my soul?
Instead of listening, our impatient souls immediately want to provide commentary. Our natural, arrogant selves are eager to speak, to be heard, and to be understood. We can’t wait to express our opinion, state our outrage, or make clear our intentions, yet the Bible warns, “When words are many, sin is not absent” (Proverbs 10:19). You know what this tells me in a practical sense? The pause button on my tongue’s remote control should get much more use than the play button. (Gary Thomas, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage, pg. 137)
• The most important marriage skill is listening to your partner in a way that they can’t possibly doubt that you love them. (Diane Sollee Smartmarriages.com)
• BE EMPATHETIC: Empathy basically means to walk in your spouse’s shoes and understand life from his/her perspective. You don’t even have to agree with your spouse to understand where he or she is coming from in life. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot report, “Research has shown that 90 percent of our struggles in marriage would be resolved if we did nothing more than see that problem from our partner’s perspective. Empathy is the heart loving.” (Jim Burns, Creating an Intimate Marriage, pg. 91)
• The first goal in marital disagreement is not to solve the problem. You must first create safety and predictability so that the higher brain capacities can come out and play. Time limits, written agendas, clarifying needs and problem areas, will help you organize your thoughts. A commitment to hear a partner out without jumping in to defend yourself, may not only make her feel cared for, but may also give you new information about her needs.
Softer ways of starting discussions may also be helpful. If the phrase, “we need to talk,” immediately raises defenses then, “When can we schedule some time together” may be a less difficult beginning. What is experienced as calming, when facing a disagreement, will be different for each couple. But if you break up old rhythms of negative communications, you are in your best position to again become curious and attentive with one another. (Don Ferguson, “Reptiles in Love: Ending Destructive Fights and Evolving Toward More Loving Relationships”)
• Learning constructive ways to handle your differences is one of the most powerful things you can do to protect the promise that your marriage holds. (From the book, A Lasting Promise, A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage, by Stanley, Trathen, McCain, and Bryan, pg. 26)
• Watch what God does, then do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2 from The Message)
• Can you imagine Jesus dealing with disagreements as we often do with our spouses? How would He feel about the way you treat your mate during a heated argument? “But that’s just the way I am,” you might say, “Besides, my spouse keeps provoking me!” Instead of justifying our behavior, we need to discover how to properly react to disagreements no matter how intense they may be or who’s at fault. Each time you work out a disagreement in a healthy way, you’re better equipped to deal with the next one. Conflict handled properly can fine-tune a relationship: “As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Resolving disagreements can also “un-stick” a couple, moving the two of you to new levels of intimacy and growth. Some of the closest moments a couple can experience often arrive after resolving conflicts. It’s like a lightning storm on a warm summer night; though the lightning itself may be scary it helps to clean the air. Negatively charged ions produced by the storm attach themselves to pollutants, which fall to the ground. That’s why the air smells so clean at times. The same is true when you deal with disagreements in an appropriate way. (Mitch Temple, one of the authors from the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Ask yourself, “What difference will this thing we’re fighting about make in ten years? In one year? In a month?” (Unknown)
• The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they’re still alive. (Orlando Battista)
• Make time for the great things of marriage—fun, friendship, sensuality, and spiritual connection. Agree to protect these times from conflict and the need to deal with issues. Just as it’s important to set aside times to deal with issues in your relationship, it’s critical that you set aside times for enjoying the God-given blessings of marriage. You can’t be focusing on issues all the time and have a really great marriage. You need some nurturing and safe times for relaxing—having fun, talking as friends, and making love—when conflict and problems are always off limits. (From the book, A Lasting Promise, A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage, by Stanley, Trathen, McCain, and Bryan, pg. 109)
• Don’t expect to have thriving marriage if there is too much hostility and lack of attention paid to your spouse. It just doesn’t work that way. It may not be your responsibility to hound, nag, or control your spouse, but it is your God-given responsibility to encourage your spouse. Many marriages would be much better off if the spouses clearly understood that they are on the same side. (Jim Burns, Creating an Intimate Marriage, pg. 49)
• There is a psychological law that says: Appreciate and you prosper; belittle and you lose. Unless we learn to apply this law, as psychological as it is spiritual, we’re doomed to an existence of mediocrity, frustration, and defeat. Appreciation is no simple, vague theme. Appreciation is a real force. It is governed by a principle almost as direct as a law of physics: We draw to ourselves the good of everything we appreciate. (David Goodman, A Parent’s Guide to the Emotional Development of His Children)
• Husbands should realize that the words they speak to their wives have awesome power to build up or tear down emotionally. Affirming words are like light switches. To speak a word of affirmation at the right moment is like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities. (Gary Smalley)
• “Dialog is to love what blood is to the body.”
• ON THE SUBJECT OF LACK OF COMMUNICATION: “The trouble in our marriage wasn’t infidelity, it was fidelity with fatigue, a marriage gone soft and sour due to lack of attention. It was the lack of communication that nearly killed us.” (Pat Williams)
• Making your spouse a priority in your mind and a priority on paper (in your schedule) are different. We can say our spouse is a top priority, but do we make sure we schedule time to spend with them? Also, our definition of how we “connect” can be different. We need to make sure we both feel we’re connecting. (Tim Downs, author of the book, “Fight Fair”)