Dealing With the Conflict

BEFORE you read this post, make sure to check out Part 1!

I was recently asked by my wife to participate in a couples series for this website, that consisted of a video and a blog. The series covers various topics, but my wife and I were asked to provide our “experience” and “wisdom” on conflict. I think we were chosen for this topic because we are the elders of the group. My wife and I have been married nearly 25 years. I am not an expert on marriage, nor do I profess to be any kind of expert on relationships, and writing on this topic was a real struggle for me. In fact, this is the second version of my blog on the subject.

Those who know me well know that I am a very introverted person. I keep things to myself and deal with my feelings in my own way. This has caused a great deal of conflict in our marriage. In fact, this is probably the number one item that April and I have fought about over the years.

I have also been described as having a melancholy personality, and my writing style has been described as having a 'stream of consciousness' quality (not sure if this was a compliment or not). So, when I finished the first version of this blog, the result was a very honest, but dark and cathartic piece. I wrote about the struggles I've had with conflict in our marriage and painted a picture that was not truly representative of the first 20 years of our marriage. So when I asked April to read my draft and provide feedback, it was not the reaction I had hoped for. I could tell she was struggling with the message of the blog.

She finally did share how she felt. It’s not important to share the details of the conversation here, but what is important is we talked through it without raised voices, without trying to belittle the other, without me shutting down, and without me trying to prove I was “RIGHT.” We had a very good conversation about what I had written, why I had written what I did, how it made her feel, and what message I attempted to send. See, in the earlier years of our marriage, this would have resulted in a huge fight. April would have shared her feelings, I would have felt like she was attacking me and would have become very defensive. Nothing good would come out of it and we would have been angry for a while.

How we got to this point in our marriage is the result of many small steps, a major challenge in our marriage, and turning to God. My wife and I deal with conflict in very different ways and this is why for most of our marriage, our conflict was unproductive. April likes to talk through the conflict, root out every feeling, and expect resolution right then. I, however, have to process, think through it, weigh my options, and think through the consequences before speaking and pushing on. This drives April nuts and causes her to talk even more, which in turn drives me nuts. It wasn’t until a crisis a few years ago that we learned how to deal with this. In the midst of all the anger and pain, I learned how to communicate my feelings (well, got better at it). I learned how to understand my wife’s way of dealing with conflict, how to turn to God in prayer for compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, and how to deal with my own internal conflict. April has said, among other things, that she learned how I process conflict and that it is OK to walk away from the conflict unresolved. Don’t misunderstand me...we still have conflict in our marriage and we still fight about things. The difference now is, through our faith in God and respecting each other’s process, the conflicts are not unproductive. We work through them and sometimes we just agree to disagree and move on. Even when the cable box battery has nothing to do with the alarm, but that is a story for another time.

The first blog will never see the light of day, but I think it is wonderful how God worked through that blog to remind me how far we have come in dealing with our conflict and how much God has played a role in my own dealing with our external and my internal conflict.

Here is to another wonderful 25 years!

Jeff has been married to his wonderful wife, April, for nearly 25 years and has been blessed with three beautiful, intelligent, independent daughters (Savannah, Ansley, and Kendal). He is a true introvert who would rather spend time in quiet settings with those closest to him. He is described as committed, true to himself, consistent, honest and direct. Jeff’s walk with God took a detour during his 20’s and 30’s. It wasn’t until a rough season in his mid-40’s that he rediscovered his relationship with God and the church. Jeff loves music and this is where he finds God’s grace and inspiration in his day-to-day life.