Being in marriage ministry, I’ve been asked my opinion on what is the biggest reason why marriages fail. That’s a no-brainer. It’s because people in general and couples in particular haven’t been taught how to resolve conflict.
Our American culture has bred an individual that (generally speaking) is centered on self and immediate gratification (I want what I want and I want it right now). Part 1-a to this concept is that I have to be right. If I’m wrong somehow I’m a lesser individual. One of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard in my ministry travels is, “If she (or he) could just see that I’m right, the whole argument could end right now!” (See my top ten list of stupidest things I’ve heard in ministry.) Somehow we have to get over ourselves and understand that, right or wrong, truth lies in perception and has little to do with happiness. When the quote I just referenced was said to me across a slice of apple crumb pie I replied,
“Do you want to be ‘right’ or do you want to have peace in your relationship?”
What we fail to consider when we find ourselves in conflict with our spouses is that we bring something to the fight. If we can figure out how to bring our sense of awareness to the forefront and ask ourselves what part we play in the conflict, then de-escalation and resolution can come much quicker. If we can’t do that, we simply further escalate the conflict and all the pain and separation that comes along with it. The consideration that maybe I am contributing to this dysfunction and if I stop doing that I can help resolve the conflict is difficult to come by for some.
We have a mentor couple in our organization that is phenomenal at resolving conflict in their relationship. We’ve sat at their dining room table playing Catan and watched them throwing game pieces at each other and screaming one moment—then snuggling in the kitchen five minutes later after they excused themselves from the situation.
They’ve found a way to set their needs of self, gratification, and righteousness (need to be right) aside in favor of relational harmony.
Our organization is certified to give and review the Prepare/Enrich relationship evaluation. In this program is a worksheet that is really good for resolving conflict. My wife and I have used it many times in our years of marriage. If you would like a copy of the worksheet send an e-mail to info@4BetterOr4Worse.org
Bert DeVries founded 4BetterOr4Worse Ministry in 2009 to help every man be "crazy in love" with his wife (and vice versa). This organization supports and encourages men to be the kind of husbands their wives will brag about. This call from God has grown the ministry to influence the lives of many married and divorced men. Bert speaks at conferences and in churches about mentoring and building strong marriages. He authored the book "The Answer" – an inward look at the Jesus community's relationship with the LGBT community.
Bert has been married to Jann DeVries for 23 years. They have a daughter, a son, and a dog. They live in Grand Rapids, MI and attend Grand Rapids International Fellowship church.
4BetterOr4Worse Ministry is a for profit organization. Mentors are trained and mentoring relationships are weekly for 12-18 months. The discipleship method encourages mentees to become mentors as they grow in the Spirit. For more information visit www.4BetterOr4Worse.org