It was St. Francis of Assisi who prayed, “Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand….” This simple prayer and perspective would prevent a majority of conflicts in marriage.

Early in our marriage, as two first-borns, we were quick to try to make our point and “win” the disagreement. Gaining understanding wasn’t on our agenda, shutting each other down and proving them wrong was the goal. Looking back we can identify it for what it was: selfishness, pride, sin—control.

 Couple conflict image

How we wish we had endeavored early in our relationship to listen to understand before responding! You may already be a pro at this—if so, way to go! For the “pros” or the “rookies” here are some reminders as you head into a conflict:

1. Say a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to give you peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Let your spirit be yielded to Him in your life. (See Galatians 5:22-23)

2. Before giving your opinion, ask questions to be sure you fully understand what your spouse is saying. Start your questions with, “Help me understand what you mean by…” or “Are you saying …?”

3. Try to discern the emotion behind their point of view. Is there a frustration? An injustice? Fear? Insecurity? Understanding their emotional position can help you to respond to the root issue as well as the stated issue.

4. Be attentive to your own emotional state. If you sense you are getting amped up, ask for a break before you respond. You might say something like, “I need 10 minutes to collect my thought…can you give me a few moments and I’ll be right back.” Then go and pray, think, perhaps jot down a few thoughts…and return as promised.

5. Be patient with your spouse’s response. They may not follow points 1-4 above. Their response is their responsibility. Just wait your turn again, speak softly and honor the relationship.

6. Look for the win-win. If possible, seek a compromise in the issue where both of you are satisfied. It may not always work out that way…but the effort will help your spouse trust you the next time around to be looking out for their interest as well.

Simple steps, but powerful tools as you make the move to Build Your Marriage!


3 Ways to Connect and Communicate!

Couple Communication block image Do you want to communicate but can’t? Is it tough to connect and get into their heart? Do these communication scenarios sound familiar? “I just can’t seem to get through!” “We try to talk, but it seems like we are from two different planets.” (Like Mars and Venus, maybe?!) “When I talk to him he grunts, or stares at me–I know he isn’t listening, he’s just looking until I’m done!” “Every time I try to ask her what she thinks, she shuts down. I can’t seem to get her to unlock and tell me what is going on in her head.” There IS hope for learning to communicate in your marriage! Everyone processes information in three basic ways:

1. Connecting through Emotions

People who process through their emotions tend to use words or phrases such as: “Well, the way I feel about it is….” “In my spirit it seems….” “I sense that…” Their dominant expressions in describing what they are processing are connected to their emotions or feelings. This doesn’t mean that a person who process through their emotions doesn’t think or imagine–it simply identifies what is their strong suit in communication and connection.

2. Connecting through the Intellect

A person who processes through their intellect will use terms like: “I think we should….” “I believe that it would be best if….” “I know that they….” Again, the terms they use to describe how they process are centered on the intellect. Do they feel? Of course! See? Certainly! But the intellect is central for them.

3. Connecting Visually

The third way people can process information is visually. They may not actually SEE the concept with their eyes…but they can imagine and picture it in their mind’s eye. So phrases used here would be: “The way I see it….” “I picture the situation like this….” “I imagine they could….” So what happens when a spouse who processes information dominantly through their feelings says to their intellectual spouse “How do you FEEL about that, darling?” What happens is…NOTHING! They don’t FEEL anything about it! But, if the feelings-oriented spouse wants to connect with their intellectual spouse, they might ask: “So what do you THINK about that, Darling?” They would be much more likely to get a response and prime the pump for conversation. Getting the idea? Love means speaking your spouses language–connecting where they are, not where you want them to be.  So this week, talk with your spouse…find out how they best process information. Listen to the words they use and match your inquiries to their style. You will be amazed at the treasure trove of connection you unlock in your spouse! Ideas for us to write about? Send them in to: Like this article? Tweet the link! Subscribe via RSS!  Add the link to your Facebook!  Help your friends’ marriages by spreading the word about Build Your Marriage!

Build Your Marriage Begins!

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Welcome to the Build Your Marriage blog! We believe that God has called us to provide insights, wisdom, counsel, and Biblical foundations for married men and women. As a ministry couple we’ve had the opportunity to witness all kinds of marriage highs and lows–our own and others’. Our goal is “Strengthening Healthy Marriages/Supporting Hurting Couples.”

Through the blogs our focus is to provide answers to your questions about how to Build Your Marriage. We will interview others on what has made their marriage successful. There will be resources and links to helpful sites and articles as well.

Our goal is to Build Your Marriage–so we will link with any like-minded individuals and organizations committed to the same outcomes. Be sure to follow us on twitter and shoot out links to the articles you like.

We are available to speak for your marriage retreats and conferences (see our “Contact” page). In addition, Brad has spoken for numerous men’s retreats and Heidi for women’s retreats. In addition, we would welcome the opportunity to provide Christ-centered marriage coaching (for a suggested donation). While we aren’t professional counselors, we can provide insights, wisdom, accountability, and direction as you seek to strengthen a healthy marriage or get support during a time of crisis.

It’s our privilege and joy to partner with you in the journey as together we Build Your Marriage!

If you have ideas on topics you would like us to write about, contact us at We’d love to hear from you!