[PODCAST #15] Resolving Conflict – Part 1
What we believe about conflict determines how we deal with it. Everyone encounters conflict from time to time, and everyone handles conflict differently. What is behind your thoughts about how you handle conflict in you life? Listen as Paul & Jenny discuss how discovering what they believed about conflict, has now changed the way they handle conflict.
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TRANSCRIPT – [PODCAST #15] A New Look At Conflict
Paul Speed: Welcome to Whatever It Takes Radio, helping you do whatever it takes to succeed in marriage and in life. I’m your host, Paul Speed. Today, I’m in the studio with my wife Jenny. Hello, Jenny.
Jenny: Hey, honey.
Paul: I’m excited because it’s 2018. We are kicking off a new season of podcasting season 2. We have many good podcasts in store for our listeners.
Jenny: I’m excited that we’re in our new studio. Yey. God has provided a new studio for us this year. We’re really excited about that, it’s an office. We can have our listeners be able to tune in to us more often without having to go through all the stress to try to find and set up everything. We’re really, really grateful.
Paul: I’m glad too. 2017 is behind us. What would you say, I guess, if you could put 2017 in one word, what would you say? Describe that for us.
Jenny: It was a year of transition. There’s a lot of transition as we had to change and move homes several times just like what I just said about the studio. Just trying to find a place to do our podcast was stressful. With all the moving, the cancer, all those things going on, it was a real year transition. I did not feel settled in 2017. I’m really thrilled, Paul, that we are settled now. God has provided a home for us, an office for Whatever It Takes Ministries. I’m really looking forward to Him being able to take the ministry to the next level in 2018.
Paul: Well, you just update our listeners since you brought up the cancer issues and since a lot of people do follow us and you get emails, texts, and calls, how’s that going and what’s the direction on that real quick?
Jenny: Just a quick note, I will be going in the end of February for my two-year checkup. I’ll be going through another round of treatment because that’s part of the checkup at the Tijuana, Mexico at the Oasis of Hope Cancer Hospital. I’m really looking forward to that, getting to mark that off my calendar that I’ve made it through the two years. God is so good. So grateful. I’m just praising God.
Paul: Wow. Well, I’m excited and I’m very, very grateful too that God has brought such healing in our lives too. When I look back over 2017, I see that so many good things that God has done. One of them is regards in the topic that we’re going to be discussing today. Jenny, you and I both, when we look back over, we talk a lot about the last 29 years. Is this our 30th anniversary?
Jenny: Our 30th anniversary is coming up, March 4th.
Paul: Wow. Well, when we look back, obviously, the moral failures there, it’s always been easy to look at and say that was such a major time in our life and so forth. This last year, the more you and I have discussed it, that’s not really been the biggest issue has it?
Jenny: No. It’s actually really interesting that you had an epiphany this year that really transformed the way you think. It’s been amazing to see how just that one area in your life that God lifted this veil and it has literally changed the way you and I react to one another and respond to one another. I’m looking forward to this podcast for you sharing with our listeners that amazing epiphany.
Paul: Well, you and I were talking about– I think we were getting ready for our week 2 conference which is a brand new conference, we started in 2017 for alumni of our couples intensives. It’s like step 2, where do you go from there? It was a really powerful time that we had with the couples that had attended and as we are preparing for that, I’m walking through some things, God just began to lead us in this direction of understanding conflict a little deeper, a little better, and what were some of the roadblocks that were hindering us. The truth is the moral failure which was there in the marriage, that wasn’t necessarily our biggest issue. It’s kind of come and gone. We’ve done well since that but we’ve still had stumbling blocks along the way.
Jenny: Let me clarify what you meant by come and gone, not moral failure has come and gone. Meaning that, moral failure happened in our marriage, but we got through that. As you look at our marriage, if I were to have someone come up to me and say, “Jenny, what is the number one issue that’s caused more frustration, dysfunction, or pain in your marriage? What would you say?” Most people would take a quick glimpse at us and say, “Oh, it was the moral failure, the lying, the dishonesty, the broken trust that came in their marriage. That was their big issue.” What you and I have discovered is that, that really wasn’t the biggest issue. It was a huge issue. It almost took us out but there is actually something underneath that, that was the biggest issue. It’s like the foundation, the big rock that’s under the ground that’s causing the foundation to now be shiftier or to crack. We didn’t understand what was underneath everything that was really the problem. Again, not minimizing the lying, the mistrust, the betrayal, all those things that happened through the moral failure, not minimizing that at all, but recognizing there was something even deeper that we really needed to see. God showed you that this year.
Paul: Right. That’s why often I tell men that dealing with the moral failure, rebuilding trust in the marriage, those are all things that are needed and have to happen, but usually, there’s something else there. This year, I think we took that to a whole new level. It’s like peeling that onion. We think we’ve arrived, we think we’re good and then God shows us there’s another level. When you and I got married, we wanted to be missionaries, we were spiritual. We felt we were very godly. In other words, we didn’t have lots of negative influences or bad habits we thought and so forth. Even at that time, in the area of morality, I was doing fairly well. I want to consider myself a free man and so forth. But very shortly into our marriage, conflicts began to come up. In other words, hurts, disagreements, letdowns, maybe expectations that weren’t met, this is where our things begin to go rocky for you and I. This is where this epiphany comes in. For me, it’s because, as we began to look at that this year, I grew up in a home that was very quiet. In other words, my parents never fought. I never heard my dad raise his voice. I liked that. I came out of that relationship or that environment, and I equated love as being no conflict. In other words, love is not being angry, love is not raising your voice and so forth. You had a similar type experience growing up, but you came out of that differently.
Jenny: Yes. I grew up in a home that there was no conflict. My mother and father never spoke. There wasn’t any conversation. We sat at the dinner table as basically an only child because my siblings were so much older than I, 15, 16, and 18 years older than me. I sat at the dinner table with my parents and there was never even a conversation, never a word. My home was very much like yours with no conflict but it’s kind of interesting that you came out of that environment seeing that as being good. I came out of my environment seeing that as being bad because there was just nothing. There was no anything. I didn’t view conflict as being bad. I viewed conflict as being, “Hey, we’ve got an opportunity here to work through something.” You know what’s interesting also, Paul, is that growing up, going through my own immorality and my junk in my life, and all that, and then getting born again at the age of 21, then going off to youth with a mission, one of the key things that I remember, this is like a golden nugget that I heard in Youth With A Mission, when I was going through the discipleship training school, was that, “Don’t view conflict as bad, view conflict as an opportunity.” The next thing that they said was that, “If you will allow conflict, if you will walk through conflict, you will deepen your relationship.”
That was big for me, that I realized that my parents never walked through conflict. They avoided each other. There was just a total avoidance and so our home was silent. I began to set out, not to run from conflict and to see conflict as an opportunity to deepen the relationship. You certainly didn’t come into marriage with that thought.
Paul: No way. Time’s I’ve felt, you were running toward conflict like, “Yey–”
Jenny: Well, I probably was doing that too.
Paul: Because of that, in other words, the view I had of it, that shaped everything I did, therefore, the outcome when you and I would encounter a conflict of any nature really, I didn’t like conflict, I saw it as bad, I saw it as negative, I saw it as a lack of love, I saw it as a lack of commitment. In other words, if you’re committed to someone, why are you having an argument? Why is there a conflict? Why can’t you get along? Because of this, every time you and I would enter into a disagreement or conflict, whatever the degree of that is, it always went internally to me to there’s something wrong here, we are broken, we are defective, we shouldn’t be married, there’s something majorly wrong here. Because of that, I did what, again, how I had trained myself in the years, I ran from conflict. In other words, I saw it as bad, I saw it as evil, I saw it as not good, and that there’s something wrong; therefore, you run, you escape, you get out. Of course, when I did that, that would just send you spiraling even more so.
Jenny: Well, I think, again, for you, conflict meant, “She doesn’t love me.” I can go back to the very first conflict we ever had. I know we talked about in some of our podcast at our marriage intensives about the conflict we had on our honeymoon. That’s a hilarious story. We revisit that. But I can even go back before the honeymoon, and it really wasn’t a conflict, because it was just avoided. It was a potential conflict, but had we walked through it, it would have changed the projectory [?] of our marriage. That was just the little simple incident that happened, Paul, you probably don’t even remember this. Incident that happened when we were preparing for the wedding and we went out flower shopping with the lady that was going to help us pick out our flowers for the wedding. I didn’t have a mother or father to help me with the wedding, so this very generous lady in my church had asked, could she come alongside and help me? Do you remember that incident, you and I were in the–?
Paul: Absolutely. I remember all of it.
Jenny: You remember all of it. You want to describe it to our listeners?
Paul: While we’re out shopping and you invited me to go along, and I thought, “Why do I need to go along? I don’t care about the flowers, didn’t care–” You’re like, “No, no, no. You need to come and pick out your boutonniere and pick out what you and the guys are going to wear.” I end up going to this flower shop with these– there are several women, I think, maybe you and maybe just one of the lady or whoever else was there. As we were walking through, we passed some flowers then I picked out a single rose. It looked nice and I was like, “This is what I want the guys to wear.” Well, it took about a nanosecond, and you and the lady that was helping you begin to express your opinions which was– yes, go ahead.
Jenny: Yes. Well, it was just we’re going in there. We wanted to invite you to be a part and so you could feel like you were involved. You go over and these were artificial flowers, they weren’t real. You picked out this artificial rose that was fully-opened.
Paul: I don’t remember it was fully-opened.
Jenny: It was really big. Are we going to have a conflict over this?
Paul: No, that’s no conflict. It’s been so long, I don’t think either one of us probably absolutely remember, but it was a single rose.
Jenny: It was a single rose. It was just a very large rose. The ladies and I began to say, “No, no, no, no. You need something–”
Paul: “That’s not what you need.”
Jenny: That’s not what you need.
Paul: That’s right.
Jenny: I said, “You need something smaller that isn’t fully opened.” It wasn’t a conflict because you just shut down and avoided it. I had no clue, I didn’t notice it at all. I honestly had no clue that I had just offended you, that we had offended you totally. It wasn’t until years later, in the heat of an argument, you said something about it. Even before we got married, my opinion wasn’t heard, nobody cared about my opinion. I’m like, “Whoa. Where did that come from?” Had no clue that that had hurt you or that you had felt that you were not listened to or cared for. Here again, looking back and seeing how we didn’t know how to resolve conflict. This question, the number one issue that’s caused more frustration, dysfunction, and pain in our marriage, the way that I would answer that is, it wasn’t the broken trust, the moral failure, any of that. The number one issue that’s caused more frustration and pain in our marriage has been our inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way. I focus on that word, a healthy way, because I meet couples all the time that in, praise be to God, I’m happy for them but they’ll say to me, “Oh, we don’t ever fight. We never have conflict.” I heard a couple say that just recently, a couple nights ago. They are like, “Oh, we’re never argue, we never fight.” I’m like, “Praise God, I’m happy for them, very, very happy for them.” But then I also wonder, is it because they just avoid conflict? Is there one person in that marriage who feels that they never are heard, that they never get to voice opinion and they just go along with the other one. If so, they’re not really healthy because they’re avoiding.
Paul: Yeah. They both may be very healthy, and they may be handling it appropriately. In other words, they don’t really have the hangup or the issues that we had in the area of conflict; and therefore, they are able to walk through it in a healthy way. Therefore, they come out on the other side as if it’s not really a conflict. You and I, it was a conflict because we did handle it in such unhealthy ways. The hardest part is, I didn’t understand it. I don’t mean just with you, there was other people I encountered in work environments, sports environment, other areas with friends. It was the same thing. In other words, I should have, as a healthy young man been able to say, “Hey, wait a minute ladies, what’s wrong with this one? Why?” In other words, let’s have a dialogue, a discussion, whatever, but instead, I get quiet, I internalize it then I begin to hear the lies as the enemy takes opportunity and he begins to speak to me, “See? They don’t care about you. Nobody cares about you. Your opinions don’t matter, they’re stupid. She doesn’t love you.” It just goes on and on. This compounded after months or years in a marriage, it just wreaks havoc in a relationship. This year as God began to show me that it’s not necessarily that I don’t have the ability to handle a conflict, but my view toward conflict and the way I see myself and I see others in that conflict is totally wrong. In other words, conflict isn’t bad. It’s not wrong to have a discussion or even to have an argument. In other words, to be able to do it in a healthy way, to express opinions and love, and be able to walk through that is good.
Jenny: Yes, I love Michael Hyatt. You and I, Paul, both follow him. Michael Hyatt is an amazing speaker. He’s really, really good helping people understand communication and things like that. We listen to a lot of his podcasts. One of the things that Michael Hyatt talks about is limiting beliefs. Beliefs, things that we have believed that are limiting us from going to the next level in our relationships, in our personal life, in our business, in our ministry, whatever it is. I would say that you had a limiting belief and that the belief that conflict was bad. That was a limiting belief, it put a cap on you. You couldn’t go beyond in relationships because anytime conflict began, you immediately saw it as bad. Conflict is bad, you should not have conflict. You would say that to me. You would say, “Why are we even married because all we do is fight?” That wasn’t true. I was just trying to express something or to process verbally at times. But anytime there was any tension, it was bad, it was wrong. My parents never had conflict as what you would say, “My mom and dad didn’t have conflict. They didn’t fight. Why are we?” Therefore, conflict is bad; therefore, our marriage is bad. Therefore, she doesn’t love me. It just keeps spiraling. Therefore, we need to just not even be married, why are we married in the first place because all we do is have conflict? Those words would come out of your mouth.
Paul: That would be in regards to disagreements about something. Not even really a conflict but just different tastes, different beliefs, disagreements over something. I would always see that as bad, and because I would internalize it and I didn’t know how to process and walk through in a healthy way, recognizing that the conflict is good. In other words, it can be good. It can sharpen us.
Jenny: It can be good. It’s not–
Paul: It can make us more committed. It can make us be more invested. I saw it completely as negative, totally wrong, totally bad; and therefore, I ran.
Jenny: Absolutely. That is the key is changing your mindset and viewing that conflict is not always bad, that conflict can be good. If you’re willing to walk through conflict, you will deepen your relationship. Walking through it together in a healthy way has definitely deepened our relationship.
Paul: What’s an example, briefly, before we wrap this session up, just because the listeners have heard that, there may be some of you that are listening and going, “Wow. How do I–?” That’s really the question I want you to ask yourself, “How do you view conflict?” Then, talk to your spouse about that. Do I see it as good? Do I see it as healthy? What do I see as the negative parts of it? The more we can understand, the more– understanding you better, Jenny, helps me now with my own understanding of myself. You said the other day, you said conflict is like a bull’s in a red flag to you. In other words like, “Conflict, oh let’s go do this,” and I’m like, “Conflict, let’s decide whether we should do it first.” In other words, because there’s still a part of me that wants to run from most conflicts, period. But knowing the way you view conflict and you do see it as good and healthy and that’s something to be walked through to deepen a relationship, that helps me.
Jenny: I don’t want to make it sound like I just want to create conflict because that’s not true. I don’t want to create conflict but I’m just saying that conflict can be bad if it’s unresolved and if there’s not humility and able to resolve it, but I’m also saying that conflict can be good, it becomes an opportunity to get more understanding into the other person’s perspective in the way that they think. It can be an opportunity to deepen that relationship.
When you and I walk through a conflict, it forces us to think. It forces us to think about, our beliefs, what we were thinking and then it forces us to think about the other person’s belief and where they’re coming from, how they’re thinking. Therefore, that type conflict is good if we press through it. You asked for a recent thing or an example–
Paul: How has it changed you, in other words, how has this understanding changed you?
Jenny: Well, here’s a recent example, in finding a home. We moved to Georgia two years ago. We’ve been renting, there’s been a lot of difficulty with the cancer and all that. We just finally felt last summer that it was time for us to go ahead and apply for a mortgage and buy a home because we’re paying exorbitant rent, so we did. As we started to look for homes, you and I were on totally opposite spectrums, I wanted to be in the country, I wanted a big yard, I had visions of planting a garden again like I had in North Carolina, and all these kinds of stuff. You wanted to be in the city or the suburbs. You want to be in the suburbs closer to the city than I wanted. You did not want a yard at all, smaller was better. You did not want to cut grass, I understand that. “I didn’t want neighbors. I want to be able to walk out my door and not see anybody.” We were just in two different areas, coming from two different areas. This began to cause conflict as we began to look for homes. You started believing and saying, “She doesn’t care about me because she doesn’t want what I want,” and I would say, “He doesn’t care about me because he doesn’t want what I want.” Finally, I decided to fast. I just went on a three-day fast and said, “Lord, will you please help us resolve this conflict?” We had written down our list of what we wanted and they just were so opposite. It was crazy. Part of that fast was– I’m going to be honest with the listeners. I began praying for God to change your heart. That was the goal of the fast. I’m going to pray for three days, and fast for three days, and pray and ask God to change Paul’s heart, because surely the things that I want are right.
As I went into that with that mind, perception of that, God actually totally flipped my mind upside down. About in the middle of that time, God began to speak to me and say, “Jenny, it’s not about what you want, it’s about what I want. It’s not about what you think you need, it’s about what I think and I know–” this is God speaking, God saying, “–what I know Paul and girls need.” So in that moment, I just yielded to the Lord and said, “Wow, God, you are so right. This isn’t about me and my wants and my desires, and you, changing Paul’s heart. This is about me desiring what is best for Paul and the girls.” Once I did that and I yielded that, I was able to come back to you and say, “Paul, will you please forgive me? I want what you want. That’s where God’s called me to.” I was able to jump on board with you, looked at your list and full, totally, with all my heart say, “Let’s go find a house that meets your needs, your wants, your desires.” That was an amazing thing for me because I’ve always been about changing other people to believe the way I believe versus me saying, “God, you helped me to change to believe the way you want me to, God, the way you want me to see this.”
As a result of that, we found an amazing house that I would not have chosen on my own but I followed God and God had me follow you, and wow, how blessed I am. I’m in a suburb close to the city, don’t have a big yard, have a very tiny yard, but I love the home that God has provided for us. We have an amazing place with a beautiful office for the ministry. I would have missed had I not been willing to go to God in the midst of a conflict and ask him to give me the right perspective. I think that’s an example where then you and I were able to come together. It was in conflict but we began to understand and hear each other, in what the desires were. The first step was getting God’s perspective on the conflict.
Paul: I know for me, this epiphany to myself has really challenged me internally to not be quiet, to not just let things go. Just the other morning, we were getting up, you were expressing some things which weren’t just light things, they were heavy things. There was a part of me that was like offended, “How in the world can she be saying this? Why do we have to start with such a heavy conversation first thing in the morning,” and so forth. There was a part of me, kind of like the old part of me, that would have just gone completely silent, ignored you, and it would have led to a greater frustration later and so forth. Even after a little bit, you even asked and said, “Do you have anything to say?” There was, I hate to say it, but in early years of my marriage, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have said no, but instead, where God has challenged me with understanding you better and understanding myself now, seeing conflict as bad, I can tell myself internally, “No, Paul, you have to talk.” Then I said, “No, Jenny, this is what I think.” After I said it, you looked at me and you were, “Wow, that makes complete sense. I understand.” I hate that, I hate that I spent so many years not understanding or misunderstanding conflict and seeing it as bad. Now, just being able to see that you know what, conflict is not bad, it can be good, it can be beneficial and it can help bring great resolution into a marriage.
Jenny: Yes. Just going back to that example of the house, had you shut down and said, “I don’t care. Get whatever house you want.” There was conflict, we both wanted two different things. In the past, you would have just said, “Forget it-”
Paul: “Just do whatever you want.”
Jenny: “-just do what you want.”
Paul: Then, I would have resented you.
Jenny: You would have resented me. We would be in a house right now that I got what I wanted but there would be resentment, there would be frustration and anger towards each other because I got what I wanted. Was the conflict resolved? No, it wasn’t resolved. Well, not in a healthy way. I praised God though, Paul, for you, that you didn’t back down on what you wanted because now in the end, this is the perfect place for us. We would have missed what God had for us had you just backed down because you didn’t want conflict and just handed me what I wanted. That was not the answer.
Paul: I think it causes a lot of maybe missing God’s best in our lives. Also, it causes things to just not to be resolved. That’s what you and I would have seen, a lot in our marriage. We’ve allowed misunderstandings, hurts, disappointments and so forth, just to go on and on and on, blaming one another, looking at all the reasons to justify ourselves but the whole point of it was, I didn’t understand conflict. I saw it as bad therefore I would run from it. It just cost all the lies to spend in my life. Coming out of this with a new understanding, this has been so huge for me this year.
I just want to wrap up and encourage the listeners to take a few minutes and describe your spouse. Think about it, maybe even pray and ask God. How do I see conflict? What’s the background on it? Go back and look for historical times. What was it like growing up in the family I did? How did I come out of that viewing conflicts, misunderstandings or disagreements, and how is it affecting my current relationships based on how I’m responding in that way? I encourage you to do so.
Well, Jenny, thank you so much for this time. I’m glad to be kicking off 2018 again with our first podcast. For our listeners, if you’ve got further questions or want to know more about Whatever It Takes Ministries, or how we can help you, please contact us to our website, or you can call us at 336-3105050. Thank you again for joining us today. Until next time. Remember, your life can be different if you’re willing to do whatever it takes.