Keeping peace vs. making peace …..

I just want to keep peace!

Have you ever thought that or heard that?

God calls us to live at peace and to make peace, but the emphasis is not on keeping the peace only.

In conflict zones around the world, countries sometimes send in a military presence to be  “peacekeepers.” They are not working for reconciliation, just maintaining peace.

In relationships, if I am trying to keep the peace only, I do whatever I can to avoid conflict. Some people are inclined to avoid conflict as much as possible. While that may look good at first glance, that approach doesn't usually work long term.

I have heard many women say, "We never resolve anything; he just won't talk about it." Or we may hear husbands say, "She keeps bringing up the same things. I won't keep arguing about the same things and never make progress."

Because of a person's background or personality, they may be more inclined to avoid conflict or to confront others easily. Regardless of the reasons, we all experience conflicts and how we deal with conflict heavily influences the success or failure of our relationships.

Keeping the peace, may mean that I don’t voice my opinion or desires. Or I don’t disagree with the other person, no matter what. If I make a statement or make a decision and the other person disagrees with me, I ignore it or walk away.

When I have that mindset, it doesn’t mean that my opinions or desires have changed, it means that I stuff it all down inside or I avoid talking about it. I “sweep it under the rug.” 

Results of ignoring the issues or avoiding them...

The problem or conflict isn’t resolved by avoiding it. Actually, it usually grows and gets worse. Eventually, one or both of the people in the relationship may explode or dissolve the relationship.
In marriage, dissolving the relationship shouldn’t be a choice. Also, avoiding the issues instead of resolving them can’t be an option.

A healthy relationship means that I am able to voice my opinions or ideas without fear of attack or being demeaned.

Resolving the conflicts and learning to talk and listen to each other in a way that glorifies God is possible! Many couples don't have the skills to know how to do this and need godly, wise counsel to spend time with them and give them guidance. 

There is hope!

Do you want to "keep the peace" or really make peace?

PAUSE Principle ….
The concepts in this section are from Peacemaker Ministries.

As a general rule, you should try to negotiate substantive issues in a cooperative manner rather than a competitive manner. In other words, instead of aggressively pursuing your own interests and letting others look out for themselves, you should deliberately look for solutions that are beneficial to everyone involved. 

As the Apostle Paul put it, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) 

A biblical approach to negotiation may be summarized in five basic steps, which we refer to as the PAUSE Principle:
  • Prepare (pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options) 
  • Affirm relationships (show genuine concern and respect for others) 
  • Understand interests (identify others' concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears) 
  • Search for creative solutions (prayerful brainstorming) 
  • Evaluate options objectively and reasonably (evaluate, don't argue) 
If you have never used this approach to negotiation before, it will take time and practice (and sometimes advice from others) to become proficient at it. But it is well worth the effort, because learning the PAUSE principle will help you not only to resolve your present dispute but also to negotiate more effectively in all areas of your life.

Elements of a Great Date

Men and women often have different ideas about what makes a great date. Men tend to connect through activities. Women usually like to connect through talking.

A great date has both - time for doing an activity together and for talking on a personal level. 

Another element is quality time together. This means that it’s just the two of you (no kids, friends, or family). You are focused on each other - same as when you were dating. 

Having fun might be the most important part! 

You got married because you had fun together. Your marriage can remain (or return) vibrant by continuing to have fun together.

Here are some helps from the book, $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget, plus some ideas of our own.

Take a break from your normal routine. Go to a part of the city that you haven’t been before. Even if your date is an “at home” date, you put the kids to bed first. Have a candlelight dinner in the bedroom! Or get take-out and have a picnic on the floor in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night. 

We both love nature and being in beautiful, peaceful places. Sometimes that is working outside together or sitting together in our backyard. Sometimes we go to a little lake in another part of the state and stay in a "primitive" cabin. 

Be purposeful in your time together. Take a hike together and talk about the wonders of God’s glory in nature. Talk about the path of your life - past, present, and future. 

You don't need to have a deep, meaningful conversation. Those kind of talks bring more intimacy to a relationship. But we can't usually program when our conversation will be meaningful. That take a heart that is willing to be open to those moments together.

Remember that you are on the same team. Avoid negativity. Encourage each other. Show love and value to each other.

And they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24b
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Philippians 2:14
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

For more on Great Dates, see our last blog, Great Ideas for Great Dates …. 
Recommended books:
10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage
10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters

Great Ideas for Great Dates ….

When we see a new couple, one of our first homework assignments for them is to have a date. Reconnecting in a fun way is important to the health and longevity of a marriage.

Most women want their husbands to plan the date. They want to know that he wants to spend time together. If a husband is reluctant to plan a date, it is usually because:
  1. He doesn't want to fail. 
  2. He doesn't want to be criticized. 
  3. He has no idea what to do.
  4. He doesn't want to spend the money. 
This book, $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage and Fun on a Budget! (By Peter & Heather Larson, David & Claudia Arp) is one of the most practical and helpful books we have seen.

We recommend that you plan the date together. This book has 52 ideas of dates for $10 and under. The cost doesn't include childcare but they have a whole chapter at the end on ideas for that.

The $10 or less idea is great because it doesn't put stress on your budget and it forces you to be creative, rather than going to the stand-by dinner and a movie (nothing wrong with that date but it costs a lot more and doesn't always give a chance to connect).

One of the first ideas from the book is to see your city as a tourist. If you were coming from out-of-town, what would you want to see?

There was a time in our fair city that the answer to that question might be - nothing! That can no longer be said about OKC!

In fact, many visitors (especially from the East) want to see the stockyards. Hard to believe but true!

Several years ago, we did a downtown date. We have much more to see downtown now, but it was a lot of fun going to new places. Certainly, you can spend more than $10, but you don’t have to. If you go to travelok.com , you will find lots of places to explore and coupons!

Sharing new experiences together puts another drop of super glue on your marriage. Going on a date communicates that I choose to spend time with you and you are a priority in my life!

Believe in ......

Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness if we say “Most marriages last a lifetime” rather than “Half of marriages end in divorce.” Shaunti Feldhahn 

BELIEVE in MARRIAGE

According to the Census Bureau (2009), 72% of people are still married to their first spouse. Some of those are widowed. Probably 20-25% of first marriages now end in divorce.

Believing in the viability of a lifetime marriage is a small thing that can make a big impact on our willingness to get married and work to make that marriage succeed.

BELIEVE in GOD

What made young David different that all others who tried to take down Goliath?

What made Joshua and Caleb different from the other 10 when they reported on what they saw in the land God was giving them?


They believed in God’s power and His leading in those situations. Believing in God’s work and His plan for marriage makes an immense impact.

His plan is built on the concept that He meets my needs and I am to give to my spouse. Marriage is about what I can give - not what I can get. When I look to GET from my spouse, I will never be satisfied.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. C.S. Lewis

A Little Goes a Long Way

Small Changes - Big Impact ….

When I think of the saying “a little goes a long way,” I think of Super Glue. One drop will fix about anything. 

If a drop or two of Super Glue will fix something that’s broken, it makes me wonder. 
Is there a Super Glue for marriage?

We often think that marriage is too hard or that it would take too much work to make my marriage work. The truth is that my marriage can be better with one small change at a time.

We have seen dramatic changes in marriages happen when one spouse has the opportunity to hear from the other one how much they care about each other.

Even among couples that are struggling, 97% said that they cared about their spouse and want the best for them, even during painful times. But only 59% believed the other one cared. [The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn]

At times of hurt, misunderstanding or conflict, if I will believe that my spouse cares about me and wants the best for me, it changes how I see what is happening.
As another author said, “Assume good will.” A good maxim for life and for marriage.

Another dramatic change often happens when couples set aside time to spend with each other - even a few minutes of focused attention daily or a date night.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or make a big production of your date. As Nike says, Just Do It! 

Probably one of the most important small things is to quit trying to change your spouse! First of all, you can’t! Secondly, it will drive your spouse farther away. The message comes through, “You don’t measure up.” 

But, with the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I can change! 

When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves. Viktor Frankl

In many marriages, one spouse is simply unaware that the other one is unhappy. In 82% of struggling or so-so marriages, one spouse thought the marriage was happy. These people care deeply about their spouse and need to be aware of what is happening.

When these couples make some small changes, their quality of marriage greatly increases. If they will start now, they can bring a new joy to marriage!

Marriage: Happy or Hard?

If we asked YOU, “What percentage of couples are happy in their marriage today?” What would YOU say? Most people guess in the 30-40% range. Here is some good news for YOU!

In a new book, The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce, Shaunti Feldhahn shares that most marriages are happy not hard. “Most married people today enjoy being married to their spouse and, given the chance, would do it all over again.” In her research, she found that 71% of married couples are happy, including one-third being highly happy.

“Well,” YOU say, “what about Oklahoma? What about other research?” Even though Oklahoma has one of the higher divorce rates in the country, 68% of Oklahomans say that they are “very happy” in their marriage. Another 29% are “pretty happy.” Only 3% are “not too happy!” [survey in 2001 by Scott Stanley for the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative]

Does that surprise you? Does that give you hope? What difference does it make if you are not one of the happy ones? The numbers show us that it is very common for people to be happy. If that many people are happy, my marriage can be happy too! Is marriage hard work? Yes, we often have to work hard but we can also have fun in marriage. “May you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18) “Enjoy life with your wife.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Happiness is not the goal of marriage - honoring and glorifying God with our marriage is the goal. Our marriages are to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. Certainly, enjoying our marriage would be part of that picture.