RADICAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION TIP
“First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
A few years ago I was counseling a couple who were angry with each other. During our counseling, I asked the wife what was wrong with the marriage. Without hesitation or skipping a beat, she gave me a long, clear, and detailed list of all the things that were wrong with her husband. There was no question about it: he was a failure.
Because I like to play fair, I turned to the husband and asked him about the state of their marriage. Without flinching or taking a breath, the husband gave me a list of all the things his wife had done wrong in their marriage. There was no question about it: she was a failure.
Two people looking at the same thing had two completely different perspectives on how their marriage became such a dysfunctional mess.
Not to be discouraged because of their impeccable memories about what was wrong with their marriage, I turned back to the wife and asked her to give me a list of all the good things she appreciated about her husband. I asked the husband for a similar list regarding his wife.
At that point, the most fascinating thing happened. Without warning and within seconds both spouses were overcome with a severe case of amnesia. They could not think of anything.
Because my combatants found themselves stuck in their self-imposed self-righteousness, I decided to take another angle to break the conundrum. I read Matthew 7:3-5 to them.
I asked each spouse to list all the ways they had personally failed in their marriage. The one stipulation was they could not add the word “but” to any of their reasons for their personal failures in the marriage. Their log list was to include all overt as well as less discernible offenses that they had inflicted on each other.
Simultaneously to building their log lists, I asked them to create a grace list. They were to write down all of the good things they appreciated about their spouse, as well as all the good things their spouse does in their marriage.
I would like to say they did what I asked them to do, but that was not the case. It is rare for any couple to take this challenge because of the claim that stubbornness, unforgiveness, and other pride-related issues have on their hearts.
The gospel is radical by itself, but it is even more radical when two people begin to practicalize it into their lives. What about you? Has the gospel radicalized you? There are two ways to assess yourself:
Are you more aware of and more willing to identify your sin than the sin of your spouse?
Are you more willing to be an encouragement to your spouse rather than a critic?
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. But love your enemies and do good…for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. – Luke 6:32-33, 35
Time to Reflect
If you want to radicalize your marriage, here are four things you can do today:
Start your log list.
Start your grace list.
Meet with your spouse to confess your log list, while asking for forgiveness.
Share your grace list, while thanking God for His work in the life of your spouse.