An Article from Amy Boutan

Every week we look for interesting and helpful topics that we hope people would like to see in Flocknote. We know that of all the previous articles written, the one we wrote about the 5 things we did right and 5 mistakes we made in our marriage, received the most responses. You seem to really enjoy it when Paul and I share our mistakes.

We recently had one of our biggest arguments that we have experienced in quite a while. Lots of mistakes were made. I hope that by sharing what we learned, it can be used for good. When you read this, understand there was a lot more going on that I did not cover. I have just shared just enough to reveal the lessons we learned and hope that they might be beneficial to you as well.

The issue was over a hamburger. But as with most arguments, the thing you are arguing about is not the real issue.

We were on vacation in Iceland, and it was our last evening there. We were going to walk into town and buy some souvenirs and eat dinner. At least that was my expectation. Paul’s expectation was to walk into town and eat dinner. As you know, Paul works out a lot, has a high metabolism, and as a result eats a lot of food. You will see him in many of the pictures from Iceland carrying a lunchbox with his food. It was dinner time, he was hungry and wanted to eat.

The problem was that in Reykjavik the souvenir shops close early and restaurants stay open late. Obviously in my value system, souvenir shopping had the priority. But Paul did not share that value. Paul was hungry and he did not have any snacks with him. To paraphrase the “snickers” commercial, Paul is not Paul when he is hungry. Then compounding the issue, Paul is not very adventurous with trying new food. He wanted meat and lots of it. Specifically, Paul wanted a hamburger.

My problem was I wanted to do some leisurely shopping, wander around downtown, and eat some Icelandic food. A hamburger in Iceland was not on my desired menu. So, instead of voicing this to Paul, I chose to go along with it. But not really, he heard about it later.

All this together created a big situation.

Then the argument began, I name called. But not your traditional name calling, I said that he was acting like some not so flattering members of our family. Name calling can take different shapes, but it is never beneficial in resolving an argument.

The next issue was that I wouldn’t drop it. Part of the reason was because it was not resolved in my heart and mind. I had gone to the Lord and had prayed about this situation. I had thought through obstacles to forgiveness. I was aware that pride is almost always at the root of most of my issues. I was trying to be humble. I had remembered that I am not the easiest woman to be married to and I have my own set of annoying flaws. I remembered I was fortunate to be married to such a wonderful man. I knew that Paul’s offense was unintentional. My need for forgiveness from Jesus far exceeds Paul’s offenses towards me. Finally, I trusted that God could use this for good.

I had hoped that my time with the Lord would have settled the issue. But when any discussion regarding food came up over the next couple of days, it was obvious that it was not really settled in my heart. Then I brought it up with Paul again. But not directly, I brought it up by attaching it to a different topic. Because I did not do it clearly or respectfully, he understandably felt attacked.

The one thing we did right was when we realized we were in a crazy cycle we stopped and apologized. Then we were able to talk through things and really settle them this time. To his credit, Paul was willing to keep talking to me about it more than he really wanted to. Because of that sacrifice, we were able to settle this problem and reconnect.

Take always:

1. Beware of expectations. The key to happiness is low expectations or at least voiced expectations.

2. Watch name calling. It can take on various forms.

3. Take it to the Lord

4. Be willing to talk things through, but respectfully

5. Forgive completely

6. Apologize, the best way to really resolve an argument

Being able to resolve conflict is one of the key elements of a happy and healthy marriage. Thankfully, these are skills that can be learned. Some resources we would suggest are:

1. The Crazy Cycle by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

2. Everybody Fights by Kim and Penn Holderness

3. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande

4. The Good Fight by Les and Leslie Parrot