When Christen and I first were married, there was plenty of bickering. Our poor dog Charlie would end up in the farthest room huddled in the corner while we would go at it. I remember one hot summer day during one of our blow-out’s I walked past the window and saw my neighbor just standing there staring at my house with a glazed look on his face. A look that communicated, “I am really listening to a pastor and his wife fight this long about the electric bill being 33$."
Every couple will fight. It is inevitable. However, it is not the fighting that is the issue, it is how you fight. When you step in the ring, you better know the rules. And I cannot think of a better set of rules than Dr. Cloud’s + + + guide. Below is a simple equation that you can take and apply in your relationships:
Grace + Truth + Time
Create an Atmosphere of Grace: This is about creating a place where mistakes and errors are forgiven. Your loved one needs a soft landing, so be sure to provide a runway of grace. The rule of thumb is you want to go soft on the person and hard on the issue.
Environment of Truth: Your words are spoken to challenge, encourage, correct, help and evaluate. Your loved one sees your blind spots, they possibly know you better than anyone else in this world. So often their words will hurt because they will be exposing something in you that you do not see in yourself. Before we move on, remember, this is + + + recipe for success. I give the warning for those that only yield the hammer of justice and only speak truth. You will isolate yourself from your loved one and damage the relationship if the only tool you use is a sledgehammer. There is no fear of truth when one is surrounded and affirmed by grace. URGANT REMINDER: Do not neglect grace.
Element of Time: Communicate that you are in this for the long haul. You want to grow TOGETHER. You will do your part to compromise and hopefully minimize the future arguments in your lives. And know that growth is not instantaneous; you are not ordering at Burger King, you are dealing with a complex human being -a person that has developed habits and patterns over their lives. I counsel couples to take note that it took years for their loved one to develop the habit, so it will probably take years for them to re-learn healthier habits and patterns too. Be patient.
One last +
I’ll go ahead and throw in a concluding +. A heart change is impossible without the work of God in someone’s life. This means that someone may change their external behavior(s) for whatever reason, but behavior modification is not true change. My last + is for you to pray for your loved one. I know Dr. Cloud did not add this in his helpful paradigm, but I see this as a necessity in a relationship.
My hope is that you take the time to implement these lessons in your relationship. Take this article and share it with your loved one. Then, make a joined effort to incorporate them in your relationship.
May the Lord be with you!
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