Conflict

I have seen how others handled conflict– sometimes they walk away to “clear their heads,” intending to discuss it later but they never do; while others ignore that the conflict exists.

Conflict can be difficult to handle and sometimes it might be better to not do anything about it, but if the conflict never goes away or if it gets bigger then it must be addressed and resolved. This is so true in marriages.

I think there are more opportunities for conflict in a marriage because it is a closer relationship. We also tend to see our spouses when we are tired, like after working all day, etc.

Going to the Bible and praying first is a great way to start the process of resolving the conflict. We must ask for God’s discernment to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Unresolved conflict can cause a barrier that gets wider over time. Conflict doesn’t have to be resolved “overnight,” but it should be resolved– it cannot linger. Then there must be reconciliation– where the two can move forward together.

Colossians 3:13-15 says, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…” (NIV).

To truly resolve a conflict there must be forgiveness from both parties– to forgive and to forget. Forget it as if it never happened– that’s hard, but remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
Advertisements

The Three Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Being Married for 33 Years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We’ve come so far considering we could have been a “statistic” based on the factors we had: only teenagers when we married, we only had a high school education, we had our first child within the first year of our marriage, my parents were divorced, we only knew each other for a few months before getting married, we had a long distance relationship (me in California, and he in Florida), and we had terrible conflict and communication skills.

We had our “ups” and “downs” over the years, and I was even on the verge of getting a divorce earlier in our marriage. Yes, we saw a counselor and took marriage enrichment classes/seminars, but the turning point of our marriage was when we turned everything over to God. I’ve learned so much these past 33 years, and these are the three biggest things that I learned:

  1. I learned that I had to stop trying to be “right,” and to realize that no one is perfect so I had to be more forgiving.

It seemed that I was in a competition with my husband all the time. I wanted to always prove that I was right to a point where I would get angry about it. I spent more time arguing my case that I never really listened. When my husband did something wrong, I would use it against him and bring it up when we had arguments.

No one is perfect (especially me). If I don’t want people to expect perfection from me, then I shouldn’t expect it from other people, most especially my husband. Since I make mistakes all the time, I know that my husband will make mistakes too so I have to forgive him, just as I would want him to forgive me. I’m not always right; I had to listen more and talk less, and I had to realize that just because he did things differently that it doesn’t mean that my way is “right.”

  1. I learned to “pick my battles,” to let the “little things” go, and to choose my words carefully when there is a real issue.

I remember arguing about how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder, and how that argument would expand into other issues from the past. Does it really matter how the toilet paper is put into the holder? No! I realized that there are more serious issues. When these issues arise then that’s when I have to say something, but I had to choose my words (and tone of voice) carefully so that my words can be received.

  1. I learned to truly love my husband, to appreciate him, and to build him up as often as I can.

It used to make me so jealous that my husband had a photographic memory. He breezed through the doctoral program and graduated with a large dissertation after four years, while I struggled and nearly dropped out. The two years that followed his graduation were extremely difficult for me, but he encouraged me when I felt like giving up, he proof read my work several times, and he picked up the slack at home. I graduated after six years of being in the program, and I could not have done it without him.

I’ve come to appreciate how much smarter he is compared to me; and even though he is smarter, he never rubs it in my face. He brings out the best in me, so I try to bring out the best in him. I encourage him by pointing out the positive things about him, or about the positive things he has done or is doing. I am there if he is having a bad day and he needs someone to listen to him. When he gets a migraine, I massage his head until it goes away. I also tell him that I love him every day (they say action speaks louder than words, but words are still important).

Thirty-three years seems like such a long time, but I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think we ever get to that point in our marriage where we can stop trying to love, to support, and to serve our spouse.

Most of all, I continually thank God for His intervention in my marriage, and thank Him for the wonderful man He has given to me to be my husband.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need… serve one another through love… And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (James 1:17, 19, Eph 4:28, Gal 5:16, Eph 4:32, CSB).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Words from a “toe”

I have to admit that for most of my marriage I competed with my husband. Even though we were supposed to be a “team” and people saw us as a team, we really were not a team. It wasn’t until a couple decades later that one of my professors noted, “You need to work as a team and I’m not sure you’re doing that.”

I was always competitive and I always felt like I had to “prove” myself. I suppose it was because of my low self-esteem and terrible upbringing—in order to get any attention or recognition, I had to do well but even then my “good” wasn’t good enough.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking that my husband really didn’t love me—that he wanted me to be someone I wasn’t, and that I was a disappointment to him. These self-defeating thoughts had put an invisible wedge between us and it prevented me from truly loving him.

When we were working on our doctoral degree, my husband made better grades and he didn’t have to really study, people also liked him more. I resented him for it. Then when he had finished writing his dissertation and he graduated before me, I was upset. Yes, I was glad that he graduated, but I was angry that I didn’t graduate before him or with him. I felt like he won and I lost.

It seemed that nothing was going “right” for me after that—I didn’t have good guidance from my advisor and I didn’t really have a passion for what I was studying; most of the time I wondered why I was even in school.

Looking back, I realized that the problem was in my heart. I was being envious and jealous when I really should have been joyous and happy for my husband; yes, he is much smarter than me, and he is much more extraverted than I am. I felt that my attitude reflected the principles found in 1 Corinthians 12—basically, I was a toe who thought I should have been a hand.

Then I thought about Romans 9:20-21 which says, “…Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?” (NLT).  I took this to mean that I wanted to be as smart as my husband and as outgoing as he but I wasn’t, and instead of being resentful about it and thinking of him as “my competition,” I needed to find peace with who I am.

It is true that I am not as smart or as outgoing as my husband, and whether that’s a result of “nurture” or “nature” (how I was raised or what my genetic makeup is), it doesn’t matter. I need to find the positive things that God has created within me.

I think sometimes bitterness happens when we want something that we don’t have— “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have… You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them… Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you” (James 4:1-2, Hebrews 12:15).

That one statement from my professor made me realize that my marriage would never be truly peaceful and loving as long as I allowed myself to be jealous of the gifts my husband had. I may not get recognition for the things that I do (and often my husband gets the recognition for them), but I’m OK with that—that’s what it means to be a “helpmate” (Genesis 2:18). I can honestly say that I am very proud of the man my husband is today, and I am happy that my talents and abilities support him.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti