Tag Archives: conflict

The One Thing You Must Do to Enjoy Your Date Night

Enjoy Your Date Night

You wake up Friday morning, excited. You have a hot date tonight! With your man!

You confirm with the sitter. Make sure the kids have an appropriate dinner (i.e., something frozen). Get the Important Numbers list out. You and your husband are texting all day about the date, either making plans or excitedly anticipating the plans you’ve already made.

After a little thumb twiddling, you let the kids watch a movie so you can play dress up (and actually wear perfume!). He swoops in and sweeps you off your feet. And there you go!

Yayyyy…..

….

yyyy…

Hmmm… huh.

Meh.

As you go to bed that night, you think back on the date.

It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t great. You went to one of your favorite restaurants – yay! You ordered an appetizer and ate it s.l.o.w.l.y. while you were talking about that thing that happened at the office on Monday.

Boy, that was tasty, you think as the handsome guy across from you is giving you the update on soccer practices and art previews from school this week.

The dessert is even better than the food… and the conversation, which is now centered on that issue with your uncle from forever ago. Humph.

Oh well. The conversation wasn’t that great, but we needed that time to catch up!

Your plan for after dinner was to go hear some live music and walk through the botanical gardens that are open at night, but you’re so tired, you both agree to go see the newest Bourne movie. (Good choice, by the way.)

Later you think, where did we go wrong? How did we not feel more – connected? Romantic? Flirtatious? Alive?

Here’s the one thing you must do if you want to actually enjoy your date night

Hold that thought (cruel, right?).

You might think I’m about to tell you to quit talking about the kids and school on your date, right? But you need to go back a little further than that.

To actually enjoy your date night, you must have a “catch up” time every day.

Yes. Every day.

As a couple, build into your routine a time each day that’s set aside just to listen to each other. Pour out any “business” (school and work) from the day. Lay out big decisions or worries you’re wrestling with. Pray together.

This might sound scary to you, or it might sound dreamy to you.

It might sound scary because it sounds like it takes a long time! It will at first, like most new rhythms. But once you’ve built it in, you’ll find that sometimes it only takes 10 minutes. Other times, it does take about an hour to really hear each other and care and pray for each other.

Plus, you actually have to hold off on turning on the TV… I know!

It might sound dreamy because it’s something you desire, but it would be difficult for your spouse to be on board with it. Let them know at a happy time (not during a fight) that having a certain time to be heard is important to you and makes you feel loved. Pray that God would make your spouse receptive and committed.

When you’re spending this kind of quality time together every day, you both expect it, you fight for it, and then when you have a date night planned, you can really have fun and converse just the two of you and re-learn all about each other!

And here’s one little bonus tip, especially for the tired and exhausted marriage couple:

Order coffee or tea at the beginning of your date

This sounds a little counterintuitive, maybe – don’t you want to sleep later? But, when we’re in those tired, tired seasons with littles, the first thing I do on a date is order a cappuccino.

If we’re paying for a sitter and spending time and money and energy to work at our marriage, then I want to give him my best – and my best comes with a shot of espresso! At this stage of my life, my caffeine sensitivity has been buried with months of no sleep, so I don’t have a sleepless night later, but even if I did, it would be worth it to build in special bonding time with my man.

And then I might feel more up to that music and garden tour instead of the movie I’d sleep through!

Thanks to my husband, whose sermon on Song of Solomon inspired this post!

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When Asking for Help

There’s that heat rising up in my face again. The diet coke is foaming.

“I need your help!” I yell at my husband.

His face is aghast. Almost slack, like he’s seeing a creature from the black lagoon.

He springs into action, his shoulders slumped – all sense of manhood ripped from him by… his wife. The one woman who God purposed to encourage him, to point him to the Savior, to boost the spiritual-leader-ness inside of him.

Disrespect.

Then my shoulders model his when I realize what I’ve done. I look back – Where was the root of this? How did this begin? All I needed was a little help!

The error, though, wasn’t in the words, “I need your help!”

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When Asking for Help

Source: Pexels

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When I Ask for Help

1. I tried to do it all alone to begin with.

Asking for help is needed, especially in marriage – a team sport. Too often when I need help, my independence kicks in.

“I don’t need help. I’ve taken care of myself most of my life.”

“Well, he’s not here to help me the rest of the time, so why give him the courtesy of helping me now?” (Wow, I’m such a peach, huh?)

Or, autopilot is simply on. I’m used to doing XYZ, so I just do it without making room for anyone else.

Now, what if I told you that all of the statements above actually have to do with our relationship with the Lord?

Uh huh. That one hurts. When we try to go it alone, we’re first saying that we don’t need God. We’re capable alone. All of a sudden, that lie emerges.

Staying connected to the vine is the first way to correct this error.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4, NIV)

2. I’ve been hiding my real feelings.

Back to our marriage – how has my communication with my husband been lately?

I bet the answer is, “Not stellar.”

When little things irk me, like that off the cuff remark about my lack of athleticism or giving me a look when I pull out a late-night snack, and I let it go, am I really letting it go?

Hopefully, I’m in a place to be in on the joke myself and not take everything so seriously. Because really, my clutziness is hilarious. I can manage to rip off a fingernail (like, the bed of the nail) doing laundry. And I always eat something at night because three kids means I don’t eat enough during the day. But snack after snack in the evening looks like I might have a little problem haha!

But if I’m in a hurting place where I need a little more sensitivity, am I expressing that? Or, am I thinking, “That shouldn’t bother me, so I’ll pretend it didn’t.”

If I’m not letting my husband in, even with a simple, “Babe, I know I’m ridiculous, but can you lighten up a touch? Mama’s sensitive tonight,” how can I expect him to understand me?

3. Wrong time and place.

Whew – I feel like I just went through this with my husband. Before a “big weekend,” we always try to communicate before the weekend.

What is this going to look like?

What happens if I need help and you’re busy?

What are some ways I can step in to help you without us getting in a fight over it in the moment?

When we don’t do this, neither of us know what to expect from each other and one of us lashes out – a harsh word, a cold shoulder, venting on our guests… all things that only increase the disrespect.

4. My tone is rude and degrading (you knew it was coming).

My husband is not my child! I should never treat him like a child by giving him “the look”, “the evil eye”, the “mom voice”.

Likewise, commanding him to do something or giving him an ultimatum only shows him I plan to take control of this marriage, that he’s not good enough to lead, and that I don’t believe him to be a capable man.

Seeing the disrespect in our eyes, body language, and voice only pushes my husband into passivity or anger – the two things I want the least from my husband!

5. Not saying “Yes” to the help he offers.

Conviction here! My husband actually does offer to help me. A lot. But it’s never in the way I want to be helped! Sometimes, I just need to communicate the help that I need, but other times, I need to say “Yes!” to the help he’s offering.

Do I need to control every little thing he does? Must I always be right about where things go and how the baby is dressed and what route we should take? If he’s offering to help, I want to say “Yes!” and “Thank you!” instead of, “No, that’s OK” whilst mumbling (if only you would do this instead).

I know I’m not alone in this! I’d love to hear if you have a number 6 to add to the list.

We Don’t Need to Add to the Suffering of Sin

The consequences of sin are many.

So why do we feel the need to make them worse?

When someone hurts us, we change who are. Despondent. Unconnected. Unwilling to move on. Or maybe we’re loud; verbal abusers. We want to hurt them like they hurt us.

Once we’ve decided to forget (instead of truly forgive), we hold onto that hurt. Just in case we need to use it again later.

I found this interesting this week: Paul is writing about a person who offended the Corinthian church, so much so that he was separated from its members.

Because sin separates.

But Paul says,

this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. (2 Corinthians 2:6-7, ESV)

I think we know that when we are sinned against, we are supposed to forgive. But this takes it a step further and says instead that we should comfort those who have sinned against us.

We don’t like that idea, do we? After all, we’re the victim! They sinned against me! Why should I be the one to comfort them for something they did to themselves and us?

Because it’s the gospel. It’s antithesis. That’s what Jesus is.

Even more:

So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (v. 8)

If my husband has hurt me? It’s not my turn to be hurt and all put out. I’m called to reach out, forgive, comfort. For he’s already destitute in his sin!

When we act codependent in this way (your behavior affects my behavior which affects your behavior), we are giving Satan a foothold.

if I have forgiven anything, [it] has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (vv. 10-11)

Our enemy would love to have us sit and quarrel and complain about our feelings and our hurts instead of living the gospel out. It will keep us busy enough that we will reject our families, ignore our lost neighbors, turn to drugs/alcohol/food.

We’re too busy healing to do what we’re really called to do: make disciples. Jesus already took our hurt upon Himself on the cross. That is what heals us.

Forgiveness is the salve we’re really looking for.

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger (including a suggestion for Pastor’s Wives)

When Brad and I were newlyweds, we made sure that we never let the sun go down on our anger.

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (Ephesians 4:26, NIV)

We took this as literally as possible. If we were not at peace with each other, we thought we had to stay up all night until we had resolved every scrap of our fight.

Right now I’m having a good belly laugh thinking about it. Then? Not so funny.

So in bed we would sit, with the bedside table lit. One of us (usually me) just wanted to sleep already. The other one was trying to figure out the quickest way to put a nice, tidy bow on our argument.

We were even less loving and respectful because we knew we had to stay up until we had really made up with each other, and we were taking it out on the other person!

It took us awhile to realize that if we got a little bit of sleep, we would wake up with a fresh perspective and have much more love and forgiveness and compromise to offer. Go figure. 😉

Nowadays, we usually fight in the evening because that’s the only time we can have a real conversation! Usually, we are all resolved and in love again when we go to sleep. But there are times where we have to come to a stopping point. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to bed in a huff – hence the verse above. Both of you end up mad, miffed, confused, and not in a good place when you wake up.

But if we can’t resolve something, sometimes we just recognize that. “I hear that you feel hurt by this and want XYZ. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around XYZ instead of ABC. Can we think and talk about it some more (tomorrow/at lunch/whenever you can)?”

The verse says don’t sin in your anger. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Not “Don’t let the sun go down on your conflict.”

I heard a really awesome suggestion for this especially for pastor’s wives. A PW in our city said that early in their marriage and ministry, she would always seem to have a conflict with her husband near the weekend (i.e., before Sunday morning when he would have to preach and be focused on shepherding). When she realized they were always fighting on the weekend, she thought Oooo I bet that enemy just loves me getting all riled up and seeing us in conflict while my husband is trying to teach the Word of God.

And she made a resolution. She decided that if she felt hurt or upset by something near the weekend, instead of bringing it up and kicking off an argument, she would just wait until after church on Sunday to talk about it.

She was happily surprised when Sunday rolled around and she could hardly remember what little thing she was so upset about. So if you’re a PW, consider this! I have been trying this out myself, and I think (hope) it’s made a lot of difference in my husband’s Sundays.

How to Just “Let it Go” in Marriage

You know how you get into those “little fights” with your spouse? You know, the dumb ones.

You never listen to the radio station I like!

We haven’t seen my mom in 3 months!

You don’t load the dishwasher correctly! [Really ladies, who told us to say this!?]

Yeah. You know you’ve said it. Well, part of growing in marriage is growing in maturity (hopefully!). And as you mature, you learn that some things just aren’t worth fighting about.

So you try to let it go. But how do you know if you really have just “let it go”?

  • You don’t bring it up at the next fight.
  • It doesn’t fuel other ill feelings you have towards your mate.
  • You know how to laugh about it (Ha! That bowl is in there all cock-eyed. Ah well, we can run it through again.)
  • You forgot it happened. Truly.

Now, if you feel like you simply can’t do this – that you’re just not there yet – try this. Pick one of the “little things”. The next time it happens, I just want you to sit on it for a week. Just 7 days. Don’t do anything about it, and don’t bring it up. But anytime you think it is affecting your marriage – making your blood boil or just a huff and a puff – I want you to pray for your spouse.

Don’t pray that they will learn how to load the dishwasher. They won’t. Pray that they will have a heart for God. Pray that they will see tangibly how you love/respect them. Pray for discernment on how to serve them.

By day 7, I really think you forget that you were counting the days.

Obviously, there are some thing that are not  in the “let it go” category.

Things like

We haven’t had sex in a year!

You never listen to me!

Those are real problems that need addressed. Those are arteries. The dishwasher is just a tiny vein.

Why Doesn’t My Husband Respond to Me?

Have you ever looked at your husband and thought, what does he want from me?

Maybe you’re the people-pleaser-doer wife and you’ve been slaving all day: cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, etc.

But he doesn’t seem to notice.

Or perhaps you’re the awesome-helper-spiritually-gifted wife, and you have been really thriving in God’s presence.

But he’s not right now.

Maybe you’re struggling yourself right now. With depression, job loss, infertility, anxiety.

But he’s not there for you.

Here’s the thing: You probably aren’t doing anything wrong.

Now, of course, we all contribute to messes in our marriage, and sometimes our husbands can check out when we’re having problems.

But you need to know that your husband’s dissatisfaction is not always your fault. It’s not always about your marriage.

Often, he’s not responding to you because he is dealing with something else. For example, my pastor hubby can get very discouraged at work because he’s doesn’t feel like he’s able to get people excited about spiritual things. Or he’s bearing others’ burdens, and the sheer weight of it is occupying his heart and thoughts. Or he’s prepping a sermon, and it is just consuming him for one reason or another.

So how do you know what’s going on, and how you can help? Try this:

1. Find a good time to bring it up.

While the kids are crawling on him, when he’s half asleep, or after you’ve fought about something else is not the right time. Consider a time when you’re both not exhausted (if that’s possible), you’re alone, and you’re not on bad terms.

2. Ask what’s up.

First, tell him you’ve noticed that he seems stressed/tired/thoughtful/whatever, and ask him if there’s something that is bothering him. You don’t have to ask if you are doing something wrong. That puts him in the mode to protect your feelings, and then he feels like he can’t share with you what’s really going on – which probably isn’t about you.

3. Trust his answer.

Once your hubby answers your question in number 2, above, trust that what he tells you is honest and genuine. Men are generally not like women – they’re not going to beat around the bush and make you guess a thousand times until they crack and cry and finally let it all out. Yeah. They don’t really do that. (Not that I do all that – ahem – I’m just sayin’…)

In other words, don’t keep nagging him with questions like, “Are you sure I haven’t done something to upset you?” Again, this puts him in the mode where he needs to coddle you, and the whole point of the conversation was for you to find out what was going on with him. Right?

4. Ask how you can help.

Know that he may not want to talk about the issue. Even though something is troubling him, he may not necessarily want to flesh out every possible conclusion or bad mouth the people involved or discuss the nuances that led him there.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t help him.

Ask if there’s anything you can do to help, but again, trust him if he says “Nothing.” The list below is a great place to start.

  1. You can pray for him.
  2. You can offer to make something easier on him at home or to let him have a night with the guys.
  3. You can just understand that he’s dealing with it in his own way and not nag him about it.

I know – that last one is hard to hear. You feel like you’re being insensitive if you don’t ask him 20 200 questions about it. But once your offer your help, that’s all you can do. The rest is up to him.

And it’s OK to not try to take control and mother him in this. If he’s struggling through it and genuinely doesn’t want a certain “help” from you, then give him that room and that freedom.

Marital Conflict: How to Apologize

How to Apologize

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/64790922@N07/ (changes are mine)

One of my strengths is perseverance. I can push through and finish most things as long as there’s an end in sight.

Unfortunately, this strength has a dark side: stubbornness. That ability to dig in my heels and hang in there until the bitter end? It becomes the “but you…”s and “I do everything“s when conflict arises in my marriage.

Now I know you aren’t stubborn… but just in case, I wrote this post! I’ve already told you how to fight when you’re married. This time, I want to focus on how to apologize.

There are 4 words you need to learn when having an argument. “You’re right.” and “I’m sorry.”

Because in every disagreement, your partner is telling some truth. They may not be communicating everything the way it happened or acknowledging how it made you feel. Regardless, there is something in their words that is true. You can hear it when you listen for words that are really saying:

You hurt me when…

I felt disrespected because…

I have been trying really hard to…

And you need to start apologizing by saying, “You’re right.” and then continue by summarizing what they’re right about. For example, “You’re right. It was disrespectful for me to blame you for a trial we’re both facing.”

Then the magic words.

I’m sorry.

And you need to mean it. Don’t say it with sarcasm. Don’t say it to start another sentence of the argument. In other words:

After you say you’re sorry, STOP TALKING.

You’re done for a bit, and it’s their turn to talk. This will revolutionize how your conflicts end. In fact, your husband or wife might just stand there speechless for awhile themselves. Try it – it’s pretty fun to see their face when they’ve actually been heard!

And you have set the pace for the conflict to end amicably, not to mention quickly. 😉

Challenge: Try it this week, and let me know how it goes!

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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