Over the years I’ve read a lot of great stories about couples whose lives were changed at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. But a recent e-mail caught my attention because it focused on one of the greatest benefits of the getaway. The writer said that it helped them learn how to talk with each other about difficult issues.
You can’t avoid the tough conversations in marriage. You bring different personalities and backgrounds and experiences into the relationship. You have different ideas about completing chores and other household responsibilities. Even if you are both following Christ, you still have different ways of looking at life.
The problem is, most people don’t know how to talk through difficult issues. They don’t know how to handle conflict.
In this case, a wife wrote that she and her husband usually “ended tough conversations with either one of us walking out of the room and then sleeping on opposite ends of the bed with a ‘And his foot better not touch mine!’ mentality.”
This couple wasn’t avoiding the difficult conversations, like many couples do. They just couldn’t talk through difficulties without letting anger take over.
They ended up attending a Weekend to Remember getaway, and learned a lot from sessions on communication and conflict. But what really helped them were the couples’ projects, when they had the chance to talk through what they were learning in a relaxed setting.
And they continued these conversations after the conference by working through the new post-getaway communication project. FamilyLife recently added follow-up projects like this one so that couples could continue talking after the weekend about how to build a biblical marriage.
“It’s the highlight of my week to be able to sit with my husband and communicate with him on a deeper level,” the wife wrote in her e-mail. “The questions in the projects help us to focus on issues that we would not ordinarily discuss but have caused strain in our marriage. … We end our study/discussion in prayer rather than in anger or resentment and we are closer together after touching on very tough topics.”
If you read that last quote closely, you will notice at least two things that this couple is doing right. First, they are meeting together on a regular basis to talk about the Bible and their relationship. This is a good discipline for any married couple, and it gives them a regular and hopefully nonthreatening opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their home. The more they talk, the more they will head off big conflicts before they blow up.
Second, they are ending each of these discussions with prayer. When you pray together, you acknowledge that God is the One who is ultimately in control of your lives. And if you know you’re going to end a difficult conversation in prayer, it tends to influence what you say to each other!
No, you can’t avoid tough conversations in marriage. But it really is possible to conduct them in such a way that it will ultimately bring you and your spouse closer together.
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