Archives For Conflict & Confrontation

The 2012 film People Like Us tells the story (inspired by true events) of a slick-talking, self-assured salesman named Sam whose estranged father dies from cancer. Sam, who has stayed clear from his parents for years, reluctantly returns home and learns of a secret that turns his world completely upside down. In the process of fulfilling one of his father’s last wishes, he discovers that he has a sister, Frankie, whom he never knew existed.

Sam, much like his father, is not good at relationships. He doesn’t know how to open up or show empathy to others. Nor does he put a lot of stock in being part of a family. But Sam finds himself slowly pushing through his relational hiccups and reaches out to connect with Frankie, who has never recovered from being abandoned by her father as a child.

At first, Sam doesn’t tell her who he is. When Frankie, who is a struggling single mom, finally learns the truth, she feels utterly betrayed and wants nothing to do with Sam.

Eventually, Sam contacts Frankie again and attempts to apologize for keeping the truth from her. Frankie understandably asks him how she’s supposed to be able to trust him again. With the conviction of one who has been genuinely questioning everything he always believed about family and relationships, Sam says to her, “Because we’re family, and family makes mistakes . . . Let me be your brother.”

“Family makes mistakes.” As one who grew up in a family of nine and has raised a family of my own, that sure has been true for me. By no means does this excuse the mistakes we make with each other, but mistakes, big and small, are a common part of our brokenness as human beings. The families who realize this are the families who are open to giving each other second chances that allow broken relationships to recover and grow.

We invite you to join us for an RBC Webinar on September 19 at 12 p.m. EST https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1023795211087515648. Evan and Elisa Morgan will be sharing their story of struggle, heartache, redemption, and hope.

P.S. Be warned. If you happen to watch this movie, you are going to have to take the good with the bad. After all, it’s a Hollywood film. But from this viewer’s perspective, I was pleasantly moved by the message about the importance of family and second chances and found it to overwhelmingly outshine the inappropriate qualities of the film.

When I’m talking with someone who has been deeply betrayed by a friend, a family member, or a coworker, they often ask, “How can I ever trust him again? He said he was sorry, but how do I know if he is truly sorry about the damage he’s done or if he’s just sorry he got caught? I don’t want to get burned again.”

Those are tough questions, because there’s a lot at stake for both the betrayer and the betrayed.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship after a bitter betrayal almost feels like an insurmountable task. No one in his right mind would dare trust a spouse who was unfaithful, a coworker who stole his good idea, or a friend who lied about him behind his back. Would you?

But what if that person apologizes? Then what? How can you know if someone has truly repented?

As Jesus’ followers, we talk about repentance—that radical change of heart and mind that alters one’s perspective and reshapes behavior patterns to look more like Jesus.  It’s been a part of the Jesus story from the beginning. John the Baptist referred to it as “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).

Testing repentance is vital to rebuilding trust in a broken relationship. So what are some of the signs of a repentant heart?

King David—a man whose deceit betrayed his wife and his nation—said it best: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

One place to begin looking for “fruit” that reveals a deeply rooted heart of repentance is in how the repentant betrayer responds when questioned. A repentant person demonstrates a humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned. There is an openness that replaces deceit, a willingness to be accountable for his or her actions on multiple levels without resorting to blaming others or making excuses for failures.

It’s only through experiencing a consistency in both attitudes and actions that reflect repentance that the betrayed individual will over time begin to take the risky steps towards trusting again.

How much time? As much as it takes.

And the repentant person will humbly wait for as long as it takes, knowing that the celebration over restoration will be a sweet harvest for both parties—a harvest that repentance and forgiveness has made possible because of Jesus’ example.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Conflict is a product of the Fall that took place in the Garden of Eden. Ever since that day, man and woman have had conflict with each other and conflict with God. The root cause is because of our separation from God and our stubborn commitment to taking care of ourselves at the expense of loving others.

Disagreements are normal and can even be a sign of a healthy marriage—if dealt with in an appropriate manner. Join us as Gene Getz shares a biblical guideline for distinguishing between abuse and disagreements.

Physical danger is a real threat in some marriages where the difficulties are extreme. Learning first how to recognize those dangers and then getting out of harm’s way is more central for a threatened spouse than discussions and confrontations that would only inflame the situation. Clear and decisive steps need to be taken to escape the threat of violence.

Conflict is unavoidable in marriage. For those who try to avoid it, they are constantly frustrating themselves and their partners in their futile attempts to escape it. Rather than avoid it, we must learn how to walk by faith and take the risk of engaging in the conflict and learning more about ourselves, our spouses, and trusting God at the same time.

Some people avoid conflict like the plague while others can’t wait to mix it up in a verbal sparring match. While each chooses a different methodology, both are avoiding real intimacy in the relationship. Each is afraid of taking the risk of getting close.

 

Every relationship has conflict in one form or another. Much of it can be worked through successfully if both parties are willing to participate. But sometimes that’s not the case. When the other person is unwilling to budge an inch, what does it mean to stand ready to resolve the conflict should there be an opportunity to do so?

Because conflict is normal in a marriage, there are times when confrontation is very appropriate. But, confrontation must never be a demand that your spouse change, but instead it is more of an opportunity to allow them to see the impact they are having on you and to invite them to change.

There are times when confrontation must be avoided, or at least delayed. If all you want is to vent your anger on your spouse who has deeply wounded and harmed you, then you’d be better off just backing off for awhile until you are able to process your anger and proceed to address the issue in a more productive manner.