Friday, December 13, 2013

Confrontation in Marriage: Part One

Well, a long while ago, I had some thoughts about confrontation in marriage and about how it's not anti-submission or anti-respecting-your-husband when it needs to happen.  Then I got sidetracked by a non-sleeping toddler.  Let's try this again, shall we?  

When you think about confrontation, what comes to mind?  Anger? Fighting?  Screaming and yelling?  Condemnation?  In response to my first post on this subject, one follower tweeting that he thought "confrontation is an attitude of belligerence".  A few years ago, I would have had the same image of confrontation, but the more I've read about biblical counseling, the more I realize that that picture of anger and belligerence more accurately represents the wrong way to go about confrontation.  Unfortunately, I think it also represents the way we most frequently go about confrontation.  

Here are the ways in which Paul Tripp, author of War of Words (EXCELLENT book on communication) believes we all go wrong when we attempt confrontation:

1. Confrontation often confuses personal irritation and anger with biblical perspectives and purposes.
2. Poor data gathering can lead to incorrect assumptions about the facts, which details confrontation.  
3. Confrontation is often marred by a judgment of motives.
4. Inflammatory language, condemning words, and emotional tones often stain confrontation.
5. Confrontations are often adversarial rather than moments of loving concern for the person who needs your rebuke.
6. In confrontation, Scripture is often used more as a club than as a mirror of self-awareness and a guide to change.  
7. Confrontation often confuses human expectations with God's will.
8.  Confrontation often takes place in the context of a broken relationship.
9.  Confrontation often demands that change be an immediate event rather than a process.
(Taken directly from War of Words, p.136-138.)

I don't know about you, but I can certainly look at that list and see many ways in which I have approached confrontation in the wrong way.  Most of the time, my problem comes when I am personally irritated or angered by a behavior and reacting out of emotion rather than approaching my husband with true concern that he is not experiencing abundant life in Christ because of his behavior.  It's all about me and my feelings and what I want; a recipe for failure.  When it becomes all about me, I tend to also approach Dave with an attitude of self-righteousness, with an attitude that demonstrates that I have forgotten what a sinner I am as well and how much I have also been forgiven.  

When we approach confrontation sinfully, we can generally expect to have ineffective results.  

A few years ago, I sat down to prepare for a confrontation and in doing so, I made a list of the offenses, concerns and examples of behavior that I thought needed to be addressed.  And then I went through that list and attempted to find Scripture to back up why I thought that particular item needed to be changed.  I was stunned by how much I needed to eliminate from that list!  Most of the items were simply things I was personally irritated at!  My reason for wanting to discuss those behaviors was just that I wanted to get it off my chest and not be inconvenienced by unhappy experiences.  It had absolutely nothing to do with wanting that person to be living in a more Christ-like manner.  It took a lot of prayer and lot of subduing a selfish spirit in order to move into that confrontation with a godly manner, and I'm honestly fairly sure that I never fully surrendered those sinful attitudes to God because they kept popping up their ugly heads in later months, but I've never forgotten the impact it had on me when I evaluated my motives prior to a confrontation.  

Living everyday life with your husband will present many opportunities to see his sins, failures, immaturities and quirks.  Sometimes those behaviors will need to be addressed and sometimes they will need to be overlooked in love.  But when the behavior needs to be addressed, let's be careful that we are evaluating our motives, examining our reasons and placing our emotions under the control of the Holy Spirit.  Let's be careful that we are not simply reacting and wanting an easier living situation.  If we don't do those things, than we are certain to find ourselves truly acting belligerently and not benevolently.  

So if we're careful to not do confrontation wrong, how should we do it?  What does it look like?  

Let's talk about that next time...for now, I'd love to hear other ways in which you think we do confrontation wrong.  

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1 comment:

  1. Well, that was convicting. I will admit I never thought to sit down and look for scripture for my "list of wrongs". Lots to think about here.