Surviving Political Seasons

couple-arguingIt’s interesting that I ran across this article from Dave Willis today helping marriages continue to stay strong, even if they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I was just thinking about this very thing last night as I scrolled through Facebook. Yesterday was “Super Tuesday” and my Facebook feed had exploded with people spewing their feelings about this candidate or that. And, interestingly enough, I noticed some husbands and wives posting exact opposite views. I pondered to myself how that must go in their households during election season. And, I dare say, in an election season that is as heated and charged as this one.

I encourage you to read Dave’s article on Patheos. There are some good tips in there that can help if you and your spouse are struggling with this. Although my husband and I are on the same page politically, we have actually shifted stances on key things over the years. Therefore, we have had to work through these changes and adjust along the way. The key thing is that we put healthy communication as a priority AND we respected each others right to have our own opinion.

I think articles such as this can be a huge help to newly married couples because the political landscape seems to get more and more charged each year. Navigating those conversations can be critical, especially early in marriage.

Good luck, friends, during this crazy election year!

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The Need to Slow Down

We are blessed at Williamson’s Chapel to have such amazing gifted counselors in our midst. One of these counselors, Vincent Ketchie, serves locally at the Christian Counseling Center. He graciously agreed to let me re-post this blog article he wrote on November 20, 2014.

Couple-ArguingIn my practice, I see many couples. They are coming to me because they are having relationship problems. They are wound up and going way too fast – in their thinking, speaking, and doing. Many times, my first homework assignment to them is to “SLOW DOWN.”

 “Slow down” has multiple meanings. One of those meanings is “to stop before you get started.” King Solomon puts it this way: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14 ESV). Many couples make the mistake of trying to talk about an issue too quickly.

 When conflict first appears, anger gets stirred up in each other. The fight/flight response fuels each other’s emotions. Things are tense. This is no time to talk. Any talk will be negative and/or unproductive. Each person needs time to cool down, pray, and collect their thoughts.

 When each person has simmered down, then they need to contact each other to see if the other person is ready to talk as well. This time should be soon as possible, once both are ready. Ephesians 4: 26-27 says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (NASB). If a couple does not feel safe talking to each other about this issue alone, then I have them wait until our next counseling session. In the counseling session, I provide a safe environment for them to practice healthy conflict resolution skills.

 Another meaning for “slow down” is “to reduce the speed of receiving and giving information.” James, the brother of Jesus, put it this way: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19 NIV).

 1. “Quick to listen” means – focus on what the other person is saying. Don’t assume that you understand them and say, “I understand”. Instead summarize what they are saying, and see if that is what they meant. This may take awhile. Do not use an “if, and, or but” in your summary. Do not proceed to sharing your thoughts and/or feelings until you receive an affirmative “yes” from them.

 Most of my couples struggle with the “quick to listen” part. It takes a lot of effort to truly comprehend what the other person is saying and meaning. All energy must be focused on understanding the other person. When truly listening, you do not have extra energy to think about justifying your point of view.

 2. “Slow to speak” means – do not think about what you want to say when the other person is talking. Take into account the other person’s thoughts and feelings before speaking. If something critical or negative is to be said, then begin with some compliments or positives first. Paul says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT).

 3. “Slow to become angry” means – assume misunderstandings. Show mercy. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t trust your heart, but instead trust God. Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick…” (NASB). “…God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:20 NASB).

 So “slowing down” requires couples to be aware of what is going on in the moment, to quiet their hearts, and to keep God in mind through it all.