Conflict Management

Freedom from Surprise Attacks

Rule #5: I love you enough to set a time to talk. DO NOT strike when your partner is unprepared. You must give your partner a chance to get ready, “cool, calm, and collected”. Don’t continue if you are caught off guard or are distracted. Both persons should feel rested (not late at night) wide awake (not early in the morning) and feeling comfortable and happy.


In an argument between two people the temptation is to attempt to win something.  When the goal is winning, you are free to use strategies that prove successful at winning the battles!  The use of “sucker punches” or surprise attacks are clearly successful strategies that win.  The opponent is caught off guard and off balance and, if the first blast is powerful enough, they will not even get a chance to counter the attack.

Marriage is NOT a war!

Maybe we should call it a “tug of war” because we can clearly picture what would happen if one side pulled suddenly on the rope before the other side was set and holding firmly on the rope.  One side pulls so hard that they fall over in a twisted pile and the other has the rope burning through their fingers.  Who “wins”?  Even though the marker shows that the pulling side got the ribbon over the goal line, both sides are “damaged” by the effort!  Everyone loses.

The Goal is Learning

In marriage nothing is “won” if we have not learned something in the process!  To learn requires getting prepared.  How can someone who is being asked to respond to an important issue give a reasonable response if they have not had time to think about it?  How can we give the other person time to “teach us something” important if we have not given them enough time to explain it?  How can we “cram” everything that we need to hear into just what time we can spare until something “more urgent” (like Monday night football) calls our attention?   Most of us are not very good at “multi-tasking” unless one of the “tasks” is of very low priority!

If it is worth doing, do it Right

We need to set a “time to argue” (or discuss and maybe even to debate) the pros and cons of our decisions.  This takes some adjustments to our thinking because we tend to think about “arguing” as something spontaneous or unexpected.  On the contrary, most of our arguments are well rehearsed and practiced.  We tend to wedge our “discussions” into the time like when we are driving to church or have a minute before we leave for work!  One person will throw out the topic and we take off almost automatically.  We’ve done it this way many times before.

Why not try something completely different?

Let’s say that there several bills coming due and we must sort out how they are going to be paid.  Instead of taking that five minutes while one person is gulping down the last swallows of coffee on the way out the door, give them the “heads up” that tonight we will be discussing the family budget after supper.  Everyone is able to get home, relax a few minutes before the family sits down to eat.  After everyone has cleared the table and the kids are sent to do homework, the TV is turned off.  The laptop computer is folded closed and everyone’s cell phones are set on “silent”.  The bills are arranged and set out to see how they can be prioritized.  Now, “Let The Argument Begin!”

Oh, you can’t visualize an “argument” in that setting?  Well, neither can I.  I can see two people who have important decisions to be made during this time, but I cannot see something happening that will require a lot of repair work to their relationship.

5-I Love You Enough to Set a Time to Talk from PastorBobDouglas on Vimeo.

Next: Rule #6 – I love you enough to stick to the subject.

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