Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More About Conflict

Former Governor Mark Sanford confessing that he shamed his wife and family by treating them contemptuously

So far I have been posting every few days about conflict in relationships with a special emphasis on conflict that leads to divorce. Dr. John Gottman has done research on the topic of differences in marriage that lead to conflicts that result in personal attacks and then to divorce. I found his research interesting, enlightening and revealing. It also begged for a simple interpretation for the normal reader.

If we look at how a marital relationship goes from good to bad to awful and then to miserable and terrible, it would appear something like this.

Stage I. Contentment with peace reigning between the partners

Stage II. Conflict-Complaints:Low level with some Complaints that are designed to solve arguments over a difference between them. If it stays at Complaints it can strengthen the marriage. Jesus warned us to be careful and judge ourselves when we get angry, frustrated. Hurt, anger and Complaints can be dangerous or healing.

Stage III. Conflict-Criticism: Here is when anger, frustration and Complaints turn into personal attacks on the partner's behavior. In terms Jesus used, it is calling the one you love stupid.

Stage IV. Conflict-Contempt: This is the most serious and damaging way to deal with differences. Jesus said, "If we call our partner a fool we are in danger of hell fire!" WOW! That is bad.

This is the stage we have reached tonight. If you are in a marriage where one or both partners is showing disrespect with character attacks and contemptuous actions, get assistance from a good couple Counselor immediately.

Jesus was a great therapist. He understood the damage to one's soul that occurs when we treat them with contempt. there is an immediate physical reaction of Fight or Flight. The emotions are flooded and the heart is scarred deeply within. If either has been deeply scarred as a child the old wounds will be opened and the pain deepened.

Showing Contempt is treating another person as an object of shame with no integrity and no identity. It is hard to recover from shaming. It requires hard work along with forgiveness, prayer and God's Holy Spirit.

Jesus was right. It is hell in the heart set on fire by a reckless tongue or reckless behavior like pornography, adultery or abuse.

See to it that you husbands love your wives as Jesus loved the church and died for her.

And you wives, respect your husbands and lift them up to God. Ephesians 5.

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