Mark: Jill and I spent a few days in Colorado Springs this past week interviewing with Focus On the Family, spending time with friends, and, of course, spending time in the mountains. One couple we spent time with have been married 36 years and they shared they had had some conflict the day before. The comment one of them said to the other was, “Really? That’s what you were thinking?”  It was evident their conflict had been fueled by personality differences and communication.

Jill:  Differences and communication are an ongoing opportunity for relationships to deepen and mature. This has been true for us, as well, and we’re going on 34 years of marriage this year. While conflict over difference may decrease the longer you’re married (and it may not!), learning to respond with kindness and grace is a lifelong journey.

Mark: We have to keep right-minded when it comes to our differences. If we aren’t keeping our thoughts in check they can become flash points that cause us to ignite towards each other.  Differences have been a flashpoint for me in the past, but I’m really learning to embrace the beauty of differences. Our differences include thinker (Jill) and feeler (Mark), internal processor (Jill) and external processor (Mark), introvert (Jill) or extrovert (Mark), medium-high capacity (Jill) or medium-low capacity (Mark), structured (Jill) or spontaneous (Mark), and the list goes on. (If you haven’t already taken our FREE four-week No More Perfect Marriages E-Challenge, sign up today to better understand your differences!)

Jill: So here’s how this played out in real life just this past week. After a busy day of people, riding in the car, and running in and out of a few shops, Mark was exhausted. I found myself at the crossroads of either being frustrated or mindful that He has a lower capacity then I do. While I don’t always get it right, this week I did and I gave him understanding, kindnessm and grace when he wore out sooner than I did.

Mark: Jill is a black and white thinker and she can be short and direct in her communication. I can take this personal or I can remind myself that this isn’t about me. This part of Jill is also what keeps our family organized. It’s her high-capacity-juggle-12-things-at-once ability that helps me so much of the time.  This week I also found myself at a crossroads of taking her blunt communication personally or offering grace and responding with kindness. In the past my default would have been to take it personally allowing it to be a flashpoint for conflict. This week I got it right and responded with grace.

What about you? What differences are a flashpoint for you? How could you change your response and work to respond with understanding, kindness, and grace?

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