I’ve been in the business of redeeming marriages for nearly 7 years now. I’ve been in the business of redeeming families much longer. It strikes me funny the amount of similarities between the families I work with and our current cultural climate. We are all seeking to navigate these choppy waters, and some of us are drowning in the process. So I hope some of our readers might find it beneficial to have a few counselor tricks up their sleeves when it comes to compromise. In reality, there’s not much difference between a bickering and resentful family, and a bickering and resentful society. In fact, you would have to work hard to convince me the two are not a byproduct of one another. We’re living in a time promulgated with self-derived truth. We find our version of events, enter into the fray, and are unwilling to yield and unable to find solutions. American families have been brutalizing one another in this way for the last 50 years due to dramatic cultural shifts in family philosophy and belief systems. So, it is no surprise to me this chaos has poured onto our streets.
It is why you’ve heard it said the art of compromise has been lost on our society. And there are days this certainly feels the case. But hope is not lost. It cannot be. The alternative is too grim. If we cannot find common ground to move forward now, the consequences could further sever our unity as a nation. Leading to catastrophic separation and ultimately divorce. A divorce of this magnitude would be a great pain to bear for all of us. And like in marriage, divorce is always hardest on the children. Generations will be traumatized and their future compromised. Quite literally, far more lives will be lost than we could think or imagine. The future of our society is at stake if we cannot learn to change our core beliefs and our worldviews. And how we handle these conversations today has an immediate impact on our culture in the present, not some distant day in the future. We can no longer kick the can down the road on our relationships in this American family.
So I took it upon myself to think through the images and clichés I often use in couples therapy. The things I find myself saying from memory again and again that resonate with the families I work with. My hope is that you can take these principles and work towards compromise in your homes and in your spheres of influence. The time to act is now. Step out and have meaningful conversations with your neighbors. Show your support for our nation by being kind wherever you are. Put others first above your own needs, and never cease to advocate for truth and justice above all things.
You Can Both Be Right. There are times in life when we should stand our ground in the face of injustice and evil. Murder, rape, incest and other criminal activities to name a few. In these times we should never compromise, never back down, and seek swift and righteous justice. But to be honest, in most conflict situations there is a lot of room for compromise. Believing there is some validity to what they are saying is a good first step. You may not agree with all of what they are saying, and you may completely disagree with their emotional reactions. However, people can almost always find common ground. They can both be right. For instance, you would be hard pressed to find an American that wouldn’t agree murder is wrong. That is common ground. It would also be hard to find any red-blooded American that didn’t believe justice should be done quickly. Another commonality. And it always starts with seeing how the other side could be right. Because when you can see the shoreline from the other persons point of view you can begin to swim in that direction. When you can accept this, tension is relieved from the pressure cooker and the two sides can begin to converse. The trick is talking in the right way. The communication of compromise is hard to do, especially when you’re used to fighting for your side.
Make “The Thing” the Thing. This is conflict resolution 101. When I was in seminary there was a fun saying all the preaching students used to recite. “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews.” This goes for conflict as well. It’s impossible to see the shoreline if there’s fog in the air! And the antidote is clear communication. Clear communication leads to clear understanding. Understanding leads to empathy. Empathy leads to compromise. Here’s the kicker. If two people are talking about two related but different topics, the communication breaks down at the “understanding” phase. And I can’t tell you how many people are such bad communicators that they’re actually fighting over two completely different topics most of the time. Which is why you have to make sure the thing you’re fighting about is actually the thing you’re fighting about. People get mixed up and confusion reigns because of two things. We don’t listen, and we become defensive. Our current cultural climate is a perfect example of this. There’s a lot of talk going on. A lot of emotionally charged ideas and opinions. Each of them having more variations than seven-layer bean dip. That’s because problems are never just one thing. Problems are complex. Thankfully, solutions are often simple. Simple, but not painless (more on this later).
So what’s the key to knowing when you’re not talking about the same thing? When your conversation goes round, and round, and round, and round…and round. And both sides just end up repeating the same thing over and over again while just varying the terminology. The reason people repeat the same thing over and over is because they feel like they’re not being heard. Their underlying subconscious keeps telling them to repeat what they are saying in an attempt to get the hearer to understand their point of view. So if the conversation is cycling into oblivion you have two options. The person you’re speaking with does not understand or the person you’re speaking with does understand and does not care. More often than not, if it’s a legitimate relationship (basically anything outside of Facebook, Twitter, or social media) the person you’re speaking with does care. Which means you have to pause the convo and move into what I call reflection mode. Reflection mode is a simplified version of the speaker listener technique, where one person repeats back what they hear the speaker saying until the speaker agrees that the listener comprehends what they’re saying. So, if my friend says, “I like cats.” I say, “What I hear you saying is you like cats, is that right?” They say, “Yes.” If I say, “What I hear you saying is you like rats, is that correct?” They say “No. I said cats not rats.” The conversation remains emotionally low and we keep going in an attempt to understand whomever is speaking in that moment. It’s that simple.
Work to Understand, Instead of Working to be Right. So, what happens when the speaker responds, “I said cats not rats, you piece of trash, you’re so stupid!”? Remember when I said it’s possible the person you’re talking to doesn’t care? If compromise is going to happen, you have to work to understand instead of working to be right. Things get volatile really quick when you have a person who doesn’t care about understanding but only cares about being right. And that’s when you need to start looking for the nearest exit. Don’t feel bad about leaving. Express your concern and love for the people and your passion for the topic and then politely excuse yourself.
We currently have an extreme number of different worldviews waging war in the hearts and minds of American society. This is a good thing. Diversity of thought is a good thing. But you have to be open to other people’s experiences and feelings about an issue. That’s how civilized conversations work. Discounting your spouse’s experiences will only lead to further frustration. Shaming your neighbor for speaking his or her mind about a topic will not win them over to seeing things from your point of view. In fact, it is guaranteed to escalate the conversation to a bad place. So if you find yourself using manipulative words or shouting another person down, go ahead and quit. Because even if you get the other person to be quiet, you have most certainly not won over their heart or their mind.
Living Justly Leads to Making Sacrifices. Fairness and justice are not synonymous. Life is not fair, and no one should ever expect it to be. Before I was married my grandmother doled out some serious wisdom. She said, “There’s no such thing as 50/50 in marriage. Just focus on giving it your 100 and the rest will come together.” She was right. I’ve tried my best to give my marriage 100. And I’d say it’s paid off really well. Furthermore, I’ve worked hard to not concern myself with what I’m doing vs. what my wife is doing or not doing. And it really makes a difference. Saying something is not fair is not grounds for compromise. It’s the foundation for entitlement.
Justice on the other hand is something completely different and unfortunately, often deferred. This should make all of us sick when this happens. Despite this, we should never cease to live righteous lives in the face of injustice. And we should never cease to implement justice when we have the ability.
So let me bring these two together for you. Because life is not fair, and because justice must be done. Sacrifices will have to be made. Adequate solutions are never pain-free. The path to healing and living together under one roof will come at a cost. There is no other option. You will have to die to yourself on multiple occasions. You will have to give ground in exchange for peace and harmony. This is how marriages work. This is how families find peace.
One last piece of this “just sacrifice” puzzle is important for you to understand. You cannot find peace with a person who is not willing to live justly. You cannot burn down the house in order to save the family. I would never advise a friend or a family member to make a deal with the devil. And neither should you.
Don’t Give Up. All is not lost. Hope is still the best medicine. Your marriage is not over. Our society can move forward. There are greater days ahead if we want them. Show me a man without hope and I’ll show you a man without a future. Don’t allow the news cycle to tank your aspirations. Step out of your home and build relationships, and step out from behind your keyboard. Ask people how they’re doing. Go out of your way to acknowledge someone while you’re walking through the grocery store or standing in the checkout line. Live a righteous life and look for the best in others. And work for the best of others. Don’t cut people off in traffic, and don’t leave your shopping carts in the lot. Okay, I added the last two for my own personal benefit. But you get the idea. If we give up now, we leave a vacuum, and there is no telling what will fill it. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
4th Annual Peace Partnership Golf Classic
Presented by Metcalf Auto Plaza
Calling all golfers, sponsors and volunteers – you don’t want to miss our 4th Annual Golf Classic on September 24th! Free food, drinks, snacks, auction, games and a day of fun…and all for a great cause! Our golfer gift bag is off the charts this year with new items and custom fitted golf shoes for every player. This is our largest fundraiser and we need your help. Register your team today or check out our sponsorship opportunities at the link above.
We are grateful for the support of the following business sponsors towards our upcoming Peace Partnership Golf Classic:
Metcalf Auto Plaza
Keller Williams - Michelle Gibler
Douglas Tire & Auto
Alpha Mortgage - Jeff Myers
Mizkan America Inc
Pinnacle Family Advisors LLC
Zarda Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q
If you would like to volunteer for this event, please email Athena at email@example.com or call her at 816-272-0653.
We want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of our donors who continue to support us through their generous giving. We are grateful to you for making it possible for others to find hope and healing.
Thank you, Eric & Tonya Mater, for your corporate matching gift through EPR Properties.
Jeff & Janna Cox, we appreciate your generous gift to support our mission.
Jesse Schuman (Epic Plumbing), thank you for helping us provide quality care for the underserved with your golf tournament team registration.
A special thanks to Dennis McGhee for his golf tournament registration.
A special Thank You to our faithful monthly supporters: Vox Dei Community, Matt & Kristy Newton, Brandon & Vanessa Blanchard, Jenny Glasgow, Craig & Samantha Compton, Roger & Jennifer Madsen, John & Vicki Hefner, Tamara Stroud, Church at Coffee Creek, John & Keshia Otradovec, Zane & Melissa Morerod, Jondy & Heather Britton, Rick & Jan Britton, Jeff & Lacey Cherry, Nancy & Tim Shea, Diane Smith, Rick & Kathy Daulton, Scott & Lydia Hurley, Kevin Quinn, Dan & Gigi Rippee, Mike & Tracy Pruitt, Lee & Debbie Miller, Linda Hartman, Lone Jack Baptist Church, Perception Funding, Brent & Amanda Miller, Stan & Linda Byrd, Clayton & Pam Wooldridge, Greg & Jennifer Spears, and Ron & Sunnie Haley.
We appreciate you!
Contact our Director of Development, Athena Brattin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816.272.0653 to find out how you can join our team of Partners. To make a donation through our website, please click on the link below.