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Better Marriages

A couple had been married for fifty years. "Things have really changed," she said. "You used to sit very close to me." "Well, I can remedy that," he said, moving next to her on the couch. "And you used to hold me tight." "How’s this?" he asked as he gave her a hug. "Do you remember you used to nudge my neck and nibble on my ear lobes?" He jumped to his feet and left the room. "Where are you going?" "I’ll be right back," he said. "I’ve got to get my teeth!"

"Darla and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a great one. How can I say two things that seem so contradictory? In a perfect marriage, everything is always the finest and best imaginable; like a Greek statue, the proportions are exact and the finish is unblemished. Who knows any human beings like that? For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic. The unblemished ideal exists only in happily-ever-after fairy tales. If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’ The sooner we accept that as a fact of life, the better we will be able to adjust to each other and enjoy togetherness. “Happily incompatible’ is a good adjustment." - Billy Graham

I read about a psychiatric hospital with this sign at the entrance: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?"  Conflict is unavoidable! How we handle conflicts can help us improve or destroy our relationships.

How to handle an argument:
1. Learn to WHISPER

Proverbs 15:1
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Have you ever tried to argue in a whisper? It is equally hard to argue with someone who insists on answering gently. The Speech Research Unit of Kenyon College has proved that when a person is shouted at, he simply cannot help but shout back. You can use this knowledge to keep another person from becoming angry: Control the other person’s tone of voice by controlling your own tone of voice.

2. Learn to WAIT

Proverbs 15:2
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

James 1:19-20
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Remember the carpenter’s motto: Measure twice, cut once. Let this be our relationship motto: Listen twice, speak once. Lengthen your fuse. Take time to value the person making the statement so that you evaluate carefully what they are saying before you respond. In other words, people matter more than the position you hold! Who they are is far more important that what they say!

Be careful about exaggerating. It is so easy to use phrases like "always" or "never" - which, by the way, are almost always never true.

When you get angry and upset with someone, the first thing you begin to do is to make their faults and failures look way bigger than they really are. We start with the “you never” and “you always”.

3. Learn to Choose Your Battles WISELY

Proverbs 15:3-4
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

James 3:5-9
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,
8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Some fights are not worth the effort. When we enter into some arguments, we say things we don’t mean, raise our voices and our blood pressure so that we boil over and spill out things we should have never buried in our heart and mind in the first place!

Can you go for twenty-four hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, anybody? Those who can’t answer yes must recognize that they have a serious problem. If you cannot go for twenty-four hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine. If you cannot go twenty-four hours without a drink, you’re most likely an alcoholic. Similarly, if you cannot go for twenty-four hours without saying unkind words about others, then you have lost control over your tongue."


Ephesians 4:15
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  (NIV)

Tongues can only give a GENTLE ANSWER when there is GENTLENESS in the heart.

Are you the kind of person who always speaks the truth, but you do not always speak in a loving way? Do your words and how you say them “wound” the other person? Or maybe you find yourself speaking in love but not always truthfully? If your truth is not balanced by love or your love not balanced by truth, then what you have to say is laced with selfishness. When you argue without speaking the truth in love, you are only trying to impress, not impact. When it comes to communicating with each other, it can never be either “Truth” or “love”. It must always be Truth and Love. Truth sets us free and Love covers sin!