Find Your Marriage Refs


How do you and your spouse fight? Are your fights full of thick, tense, unforgiving air? While you fight, do you also attempt to win the world’s loudest shouting match award? Or worse, is there physical abuse? Does one of you always cave and beg for forgiveness, just to keep the peace? Are you so busy talking through all of the exponential emotions you’ve experienced over this hurt that your husband can’t even remember what you were talking about?

Put 2 people together and what will they inevitably do? Disagree. When it comes down to it, most of us “fight dirty” in one way or another. We have seen and been a part of conflict since we were born. Many of us fight exactly as we saw our families fight, picking up all of the same faces, vocalizations, and abuses our parents slung and incurred.

I know I do.

When Brad and I were dating, if we were fighting about something, even especially if it was my fault, I would give the silent treatment. For someone who loves to hash conflict out immediately (Brad), it was torture, which made my tactic ever more effective and tempting. I could sit there for hours not speaking or looking at him while he begged and begged to talk about it. Finally, I would say something, and he was so grateful that I spoke, that he would just admit any kind of wrong to have resolution. And I let him.

It was awful!

Use a Baton When Communicating

I’m so glad that we had mature believers around us at that time in our life. Mature believers who said, “Let’s do this right.” (Thank you; you know who you are!) Our college pastor taught us how to communicate using a pen. Seriously. He would make me hold the pen and explain what I was feeling and why. When I was done (no interrupting), I would pass the pen to Brad. He would have to repeat what I said, and I would have to agree that he knew what I said (if I didn’t, I would re-explain until I was satisfied he knew how I felt). Then, it was his turn to tell me what he was feeling and why. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until we all know what’s going on.

Sounds juvenile, right? We were, and oftentimes, we are.

Do you ever say, “You don’t understand!”? The pen eliminates that. Do you ever feel like you can’t get a word in edgewise? Won’t happen with the pen.

I highly recommend finding the nearest pen baton when you’re arguing, especially if you totally stink at conflict – which most of us do. Just sayin’.

Find Marriage Refs

A big huge gigantic part of conflict is feeling like you are heard and understood, so often, the baton-trick will align you on what happened so that you’re able to focus on how to love and respect each other better next time around.

But sometimes, the baton doesn’t get you anywhere. Or, the issue is so huge that your breath is taken away when you think about it. In these instances, it’s very important to have another married couple who can moderate your discussions, pray for you, and support you in taking steps to reconciliation.

To find your marriage (or even dating) referees, you don’t just a want a couple you’re friends with. In fact, a healthy distance isn’t a bad idea. You need objectivity. You don’t want to pick just anybody. You need a couple who champions marriage, has strong and effective conflict resolution of their own, and honors confidentiality. Consider logevity of marriage too (don’t pick newlyweds :)). But you do want them to care about you, so I wouldn’t pick complete strangers, either. I just wouldn’t pick a couple who will want to give you what you want.

Pick a couple who will tell you what you need to hear.

Ask this couple if they would be willing to be “on call” for you. In other words, if you and your spouse are having a conflict that is not being resolved, or if you are dealing with some very serious issues in you marriage, ask if they would be willing to help guide you through your conflict at a moment’s notice. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you already have a conflct resolution system in place? What is it? How has it helped?

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3 thoughts on “Find Your Marriage Refs

  1. Karyn

    Conflict is such a tough thing because you have to step out of yourself and make mature decisions while in the midst of anger/hurt. I’m terrible at the silent treatment, it’s my natural tendency. I’ve learned over the years that it’s okay to briefly retreat into yourself to think about your feelings, calm down and avoid harsh words. But to prolong simply to prove a point is not constructive at all. I love the baton idea, it certainly helps eliminate the feeling of not being heard! Great post.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Yes, i also think it’s OK to pause and have a time to reflect before continuing. Thanks for adding that!

  2. Pingback: Marital Conflict: How to Apologize | The Candid Pastor's Wife: Faith. Marriage. Beauty. Women. Culture.

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