Mark: Jill and I have had our share of conflict over the years. In our 34 years of marriage, we know the realities of conflict and for many years we would clash with one another and it would be a flash point in our marriage. A flash point happens when we have conflict and defenses go up, anger sets in, tempers rise, and we find ourselves alienated from one another. This is what happens in the Slow Fade of Defensiveness in our No More Perfect Marriages book. In the past few years, however, we’ve come to see conflict in a new way. We actually now see it as growth trying to happen.
Jill: When conflict happens it’s usually because one of us has frustrated the other. It also happens when we are not on the same page, meaning we don’t have a shared vision or opinion about something. When we are faced with our own shortcomings or we need to work from disunity to unity in some way, we often find ourselves at a flash point.
Mark: We’ve found that conflict can be resolved quickly and sometimes even prevented, when we turn flash points into growth points. A growth point is a place where we need to mature or a place where our relationship needs to mature.
Jill: We may be adults, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have places where we need to grow up. We all do.
Mark: So when Jill communicates to me her frustration that I didn’t do what I promised to do, I’m at a Y in the road. I can make this moment a flash point and get defensive or I can make it a growth point and apologize for not keeping my word, ask for forgiveness, and let the moment be a form of accountability for me.
Jill: Flash points react to the situation. Growth points respond to the situation…and responding is always better than reacting. For me, it seems my flash points often happen in exasperation. Exasperation when he didn’t hear what I said. Exasperation when he can’t find something. Exasperation when he doesn’t do something the way I wanted him to do something. God is using those moments to help me practice self-control, increase patience, and respond with love. They used to be flash points (and sometimes still are when I’m tired!), but more often than not they are becoming growth points as I allow God to grow me when I bump into Mark’s imperfect.
Mark: Our goal is to never stop growing in becoming more like Christ everyday. The way we respond to everyday frustrations in marriage is a great place for growth to happen.
What about you? The next time you experience conflict in your marriage, can you respond to it in such a way that makes it a growth point?
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