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I’m a stuffer.
Not a hoarder stuffer, but a conflict and communication in general stuffer. There’s usually one person in a relationship who stifles communication, not able to openly talk with their spouse because they don’t even know where to start. My husband is what Gary Chapman of The 5 Love Languages calls a babbling brook. The communication is ceaseless. If he has a problem, it’s known pretty quickly…usually for better, but occasionally for worse.
For someone who innately wants a swift resolution to problems, he quickly became frustrated with my tight-lipped communication on issues closest to my heart.
We had to find a solution.
So five years ago, we grabbed separate notebooks and pens and took off for separate corners of the house. We prayerfully asked God to show us what we should do to resolve our communication barrier. The words out-poured onto lined pages with us coming together roughly an hour later to peer at what the other had written. After glancing at our notes side by side, we realized we pretty much wrote the exact same words, except with our own personal flair.
In a matter of days, we meshed our words together to form our Conflict Resolution that’s stuck it out with us for years. And y’all, we had no idea how many of our friends would be asking us for copies!
I know, it may seem odd to have a conflict resolution as the solution to a communication conundrum, but if your main issue is not being able to tap into unresolved issues, then tension will linger, and so will that unspeakable barrier of words, or actually, a lack of words will remain. The Conflict Resolution is only a part of a larger whole that we call our relationship checkups. Sound cheesy? Too organized? Perhaps. But we’ve found that it works and others have as well.
What and Where?
Five years ago, we set out to find a really nice date spot (okay-sub par it was only Panera) and dive into the Conflict Resolution. Only, it didn’t feel natural to go straight for the jugular talking about the tension, so we knew we needed to come up with icebreaker questions leading to the conflict portion. We’re including the questions we usually ask each other, but since this is supposed to be a fluid conversation, we do what comes naturally to us in the moment and sometimes omit or add questions. We can’t get outside the house now because of health-related issues, but in the past, we made the effort to try to find quiet spots that made addressing our hurdles more appealing and date-like.
Read through the list of conflict resolutions to see if you both agree with what’s already in place. If there’s something that you don’t agree with or doesn’t fit with the two of you, mark it off, or create your own. After you’ve come together to decide what suits you, make a decision together to use this as the agreed upon strategy for settling conflicts.
Agree upon a time and place to meet up. If you’re like us and it’s simply not doable to go out, then have an in-home relationship check-up.
Pray with your spouse directly before the relationship check-up. Then go back and forth
with the questions on our list or your own. We usually begin with a pretty generic “How am I doing as a wife/husband?” because it gets the ball rolling with more in-depth conversations.
There’s been some occurrences where one of us felt like we were doing pretty lousy in our behavior and essentially wanted to play hooky with our relationship check-up meeting, but we’ve always reassured the other person is safe and will receive grace. That’s been the thing that keeps us coming back to our relationship check-ups. If we did not harbor a safe environment where we both felt loved in spite of our slip-ups, the relationship check-ups would have been long dead.
After we have our back-and-forth with the questions, we dive into the conflict resolution, reading it out loud and asking each other how we’re doing with the points and fessing up if there’s an area we personally need to work on. Then we move on to the Conflict Resolution Bible Verses, which are verses we’ve found from the Bible that relate to loving each other better and easing conflicts that we take time reading.
Final Thoughts We Wanted to Mention
We listed something that may sound unusual at first. Creeds. Not Creed the band, but creeds as in beliefs. We found that there were these one or two issues that continued to create tension between us. Just when we thought the issue was resolved, its monstrous tension would drive a wedge in between us once again.
For us, it made sense to write down what we truly believed on this topic, then, retrieve this paper when the tension would begin to creep up on us once again. Is there constantly fighting about money that you thought was already beaten to death enough in your last back-and-forth? Was there ever a resolution, but you still continue to fight? I know, it sounds uber organized again, but we can all forget what we actually agree upon when the mammoth monster of tension creeps up on us.
We also have mentioned a list that reminds us of the qualities we love about each other and reflecting upon this list when conflicts emerge. This was an idea our pastor recommended, and ever since, we have had a list tucked inside our Bible of qualities we love about each other.
As one of the most important mentions, this is not a formula. This is meant to be as fun as tuning up a car to a mechanic. Meaning, yes, relationship check-ups have its purpose of strengthening our relationship, but we’ve always tried to make it fun. And no, I’m not in the realm of mechanics to know if this is even an accurate analogy.
Let us know if you run into any personal hurdles as you do the relationship check-up or if there was something you added to the list.
I’m praying you fall more in love with your spouse this year and beyond,