Date Night Study Hall - Conflict

Date Night Study Hall - Conflict

5 Cs of Marriage – Covenant, Communication, Conflict, Closeness and Children 

RECAP:  Communication


Conflict (The Wiring of the House)
Jacob and Rachel


Is Conflict in a Marriage Good or Bad?

Frequency of conflict IS NOT an effective indicator of happiness or predictor of divorce.
Duration/severity of conflict IS an effective indicator of happiness and predictor of divorce.

Genesis 30:1-8 (Jacob and Rachel fight)

Layers of complexity for Jacob and Rachel:
History with Laban and Leah’s involvement, Jealousy of Leah, Rachel’s barrenness and social implications, Jacob’s divided attention, destructive solutions (Bilhah)


Why Conflict Happens:

1.  Meta - God’s design for marriage involves bringing together two self-centered people and asking them to do life together!

2.  Foundational – Low love tanks lead to more frequent/intense conflict.

3.  Specific Instances – Men:  Men respond to being challenged with point-focused, uncaring delivery that borders on attack.  Men escalate conflict when they invalidate the woman’s feelings (the argument about being angry).  Core need – respect/love.

4.  Specific Instances – Women:  Women respond to being challenged by communicating mistrust/rejection or other negative feelings & giving unsolicited advice.  Women unknowingly start arguments by not being direct when they share their feelings.  Core need – empathy/love.


Tools for Preventing Arguments:

Research suggests that men disproportionately do not allow their wives influence their decision-making, while women are much more likely to do so.  Be like Jacob!  Men, reflect on your willingness in this regard.

Practice gracious withdrawal for a moment at the beginning of conflict, coupled with a prayer, “God, why am I experiencing this anger at the moment?”  Determine the good and bad of your anger.

Treat truth like medicine.  Don’t fear truth, but speak truth that edifies, not tears down (Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:15).  Don’t overdose; give medicine out in appropriate doses and at appropriate times, not when hungry, tired, etc.

Speak criticism in the context of compliments – 3:1 rule.  Affirms underlying appreciation.


Tools for Managing Arguments:

Take turns talking, listen and repeat.

Be aware of the anatomy of an argument – Men are From Mars pattern.

Reflect on the tactics used in your argument.  How are you communicating love in the middle of your conflict? 

Remember core needs and assumptions!  Men are looking for respect/love and often trying to communicate respect/love.  Men fear and avoid emotional explosion at all costs.  Women are looking for empathy/love and trying to communicate empathy/love.  Women fear and avoid emotional distance at all costs.


Tools for Argument Aftermath:

The God of Reconciliation – Chambers – “Jesus does not mention the other person.  He says for “you” to go.”  Own the process as your responsibility.

-       Note that statistically, the woman’s willingness to cool off has a larger impact on the overall emotional health of the relationship than the man’s willingness to do so.  This does NOT release men from this responsibility, however!

Forgiveness – Don’t let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Blessing and danger of built-in forgiveness.  Intentional acts of loving remorse/gracious forgiveness.

Next week: Closeness (The Furnishings of a House)



Conversation: Our next steps in getting better at arguments!

1.     Why does conflict happen in your relationship?

2.     If you dare … post-game a recent argument (preferably one that’s not about something profound).  Where did you use tactics that were unfair?  What affirmation did you need?  Did your spouse need?  How could handle the aftermath better?

3.     What tools above would be useful for you?  Name one or two that you will attempt to apply yourself.