Stage Two of Confronting a Spouse And Linkup!

In marriage, a lot of couples are able to work through at least a minor to moderate-level conflict without the help of a third or fourth party. 😉  In fact, there’s even advice from Scripture that says outside parties should steer clear of a conflict that is not their own! #dogbite

“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Proverbs 26:17

That verse is really more about rushing in to “meddle” in a conflict, especially when it is one that you might not all that is going on or has gone on in the past.

Confront Spouse

However, if a significant offense continues to occur because one spouse (or individual) is resistant to “listen” to the other spouse’s (or individual’s) concerns, then the Bible has something to say about that as well.

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’” ~Matthew 18:16

This verse (and the passage surrounding it) is often the process many churches use for “church discipline.” But Jesus’ instructions here give us a wealth of wisdom for addressing habitual or lifestyle sins of anyone and not just parishioners—even and especially addressing longstanding and/or damaging marriage conflicts.

Enter, stage left . . . it’s the face of grace I’ve dubbed, “Connie” (short for confrontation). Click on the link to read other posts in this series—The Many Faces of Grace.”

Step One – Respectfully Confront Privately

Let’s say that a husband refuses to quit watching movies that have nudity and sexually explicit situations, after the wife has clearly and respectfully expressed her concerns and desire for him to stop this habit.

Ongoing and In-tandem with Step One

She’s also given him time to think about this, while she—unbeknownst to him—continues to pray for his heart to change. (Remember “Pete” for “petition”? I suppose, Pete could also stand for “rePete!”)

Step Three – Confront Again Privately

After a few weeks go by and he continues to watch these kinds of shows, she brings it up to him one more time for “good measure”—doing so with kindness and patience in her voice. But, let’s say, he still flatly refuses.

Step Four – Bring in Trusted Pastor(s)

If she and her husband are believers and have a church where they attend, this could be a great time to schedule a meeting with their pastor. If her husband won’t go with her, I would suggest she meet one time* with her pastor on her own to gain support and guidance.

Should she leave it at that and call it a day? Nope!

Step Five – Go to a trusted, Christian Counselor

I believe Matthew 18:16 could/can include pulling in the help of a good, godly counselor as well.

Problem solved? Well, certainly not if he also refuses to go with her to a counselor. So what then?

Step Six – Bring the Confrontation to Him

She could take the tack of bringing some godly, male friends of her husband’s “to him.”** These friends would need to be in agreement with her that this practice is truly hurting her marriage or this could quickly go sideways! She must have full confidence in the ability of these friends to confront her husband respectfully but firmly.

If there are no godly friends who can do this, then consider some godly men (who aren’t necessarily close friends of the husband) from your church coming instead.

And what about if all six steps end in failure? Well, . . .

Next week, I’ll be unpacking more about what to do if these steps fail, plus I’ll share what I think are the kinds of issues or conflicts to warrant such a thorough and painstaking process in marriage, and why. I hope you’ll come back by!

 

What are some other longstanding and damaging offenses that should be confronted in this way in marriage?

 

Why do you think this serious-minded approach is necessary for a couple, or do you? 

 

*Since this woman would be in a vulnerable point in her life, she should not make meeting with her compassionate pastor an ongoing effort. Any wise pastor should also know this, but just in case he doesn’t . . . I’m saying it!

**Also, another alternative to having your husband’s godly, male friends come and confront your spouse, is to have a godly couple that both of you like and trust to come instead. Some churches even train mentor couples just for this purpose. You might want to check to see if that’s something your church provides.

Be sure to scroll down to comment below!


Here are some lovely linkups I joinChristian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Writer Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Faith and Friends, Sitting Among Friends, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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  • Mary

    Thank you for your sound advice. You outline the steps so completely and I pray that couples who are in this position are able to seek and find the help they need.

    I imagine you and your husband are wonderful as mentors for others couples. You have such a wonderful way of breaking down what is needed and have much life experience to bring to the table. I appreciate you! Thank you for all you do to promote marriage.

    • Thank you, Mary! It’s good to know that you find this helpful and clear. Sometimes what is clear to me, isn’t always clear to others! Lol!

      Gary and I do a lot of “mentoring” in crisis situations, but also lead marriage small groups and most recently were able to do a workshop that will lead to many more at our church. It’s been a slow go but we love what we do and see the blessings coming our way in abundance. Thanks for your kind words.

  • pioneerpat1

    Very interesting. I do have a question to ask-What happens if one of the partners knows and admits they have a problem always offers up the excuse-“I am too old to change my behavior?”

    • That’s very common, Patrick. It’s really a softer way of rejecting the boundary issue that is raised in a confrontation. I don’t know if the issue is a significant and habitual offense. That would factor in as well. If it’s simply a preference, then it probably means you would need to adjust how you approach this–since you “can’t change someone else.” If this is your spouse, you might suggest going to a counselor who could be more of a mediator in this process. Often a spouse will listen to an outsider who is an expert over their own spouse! Maybe your spouse feels as if you don’t know what you’re talking about too. There’s always so much baggage that interferes in these kinds of situations that outside help is often the only way to move things in the right direction. I hope that answers your question, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Beth, this is such an outstandingly good post…you laid the issue and the path out perfectly.

    And yes, for ‘guy problems’, you do need to enlist the help of Godly men, and a male counselor. From what I understand, men are far more likely to feel ‘outnumbered’ if there’s a female counselor taking the lead.

    When Barb and I remarried after I had been a prime idiot (not unfaithful, but cruel and demeaning), I saw a husband-and-wife team, and that was a large part of what brought me back to sanity…seeing both gender-views of how wrong I had been.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/05/your-dying-spouse-311-frequencies.html

    • Thank you, Andrew! You are always such a great encourager in my life!

      I’m glad you agree with the what I’ve suggested regarding men. I have been that “counselor” that the husband feels intimidated by! So “yes! That certainly happens more times than not, I’d say.

      I’m so glad that you had that experience with another couple. It can be so healing and encouraging to a discouraged marriage. And yes, seeing the wife’s side of things through an objective female can be very helpful as well. We don’t have our defenses up with those we know have no “dog in the fight.” 😉

  • Sarah Geringer

    Hi Beth. You make great points with eloquence here. I followed these steps in our past days of marriage. When a wife follows these steps with respect and privacy, she can experience a measure of freedom within her pain, because she is doing her part to fix the problem. When I realized that, I didn’t feel powerless anymore. Can’t wait to see what you reveal in the next post!

    • Oh really! That’s so vulnerable of you to admit, Sarah! But also tells me how proactive and wise you and your husband are! I’m so glad you have experienced this freedom and empowerment in your marriage. Getting help in this way can feel like a burden is lifted. Thank you for reading and being so open about your own marriage. Makes me look forward to getting to know you better in July, all the more!

      • Sarah Geringer

        Yes, I’m glad God is weaving our paths together! I believe he chose us to be roommates at She Speaks. Blessings to you!

  • Beth, Thank you for sharing these steps. You have a way of breaking solutions to the most difficult problems/conflicts down to manageable steps that can be taken a little at a time This makes the process move from seemingly impossible to, “Yes, I can do this (with God’s help) one step at a time. I love that.

    • Thank you so much, Leslie. I appreciate your encouragement. Sometimes it doesn’t always translate as clearly to others as it does in my brain! Lol! Glad that you found it helpful, my friend!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    I always appreciate your wisdom and the fact that it can also be applied to conflicts with people other than our spouse. Sometimes, we wonder that best way to go and you give good solid advice here….thank you!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Yes, that’s so true, Bev. We can use this template of sorts for all kinds of conflicts with others in our lives. Thank you for joining the conversation, my friend!

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  • So wise, more people need to know this process. It would save a lot of marriages, I believe.

    • Yes, it surprises me how many don’t or at least haven’t thought about it in the context of major marriage issues. Thanks for your kind words, Jennie! I’m so glad we’re getting to know one another through the blogosphere and FB.

  • Beth, I love that you are tackling this subject. It is a very difficult journey to travel when one spouse refuses to respect the concerns of the other and also refuses to heed the council of professionals. So much of it comes down to pride, and only God can break this.

    • Yes, so very difficult and sadly so very common too, Crystal. It does boil down to pride and ironically involves a lot of humility on the part of the offended to handle it just right! Thanks so much for joining the conversation and encouraging me!

  • Karen Woodall

    Dealing with issues in marriage are so complicated, but this step-by-step method is very helpful. Thanks!!

  • Patricia A Krank

    More wise words for marriage. I’m sure they will help many. Blessings to you this week.

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  • That word ‘meddle’ is a gentle reminder to me as a mother / mother-in-law of adult children! May I be still and quiet, and simply available to love …

    As ever, thanks, Beth.

  • Some thought nuggets to store away for my marriage. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.

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