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Engaging Conflict in a Productive Way

Air Date 06/04/2018

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In a discussion based on their book, Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight, Ron and Deb DeArmond explain how couples can engage in healthy conflict and use it to strengthen their marriage.

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Teaser:

Man 1: My wife and I fight probably the most over home improvement.

Woman 1: Miscommunication. Probably over chores!

Man 2: That I feel threatened by the situation.

Woman 2: Sadly, he lost his job recently. And so, it’s like, “Please don’t spend any money” and then I see something hit the checking account and I’m like drrrrrrrrrrr......

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, perhaps you can relate to at least one of those comments about what your spouse does to make you angry. This is “Focus on the Family.” And today, we’re going to help you learn how to better respond when your spouse pushes your buttons. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, it just never happens. ...Silence....

(LAUGHTER)

John: I’m not taking that bait.

Jim: You know, I would say most marriages - it’s true that not every marriage - I think we hear from you, those few, that don’t argue. And we understand that. The 98 percent of us that do, this is for us today.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: And it’s true. I mean, I think it’s a healthy thing to disagree. You don’t need to always agree. But it’s a conflict. And we need to know as Christians particularly how to manage conflict well.And I don’t know that we talk about that enough, especially in our marriages, John. Now, when we do have broadcasts like this, people will write us and say, “my husband and I, my wife and I, we don’t argue. We don’t argue we don’t believe as Christians we should.” We started describing this John is, I think, intense fellowship or intense discussions so people could understand what we’re saying.

John: Yes. Yes. A lot of the times, frankly for us, we just know there’s something there. But we don’t call it anything. And unfortunately...

Jim: Are you speaking about you and Dina (ph) (laughter)?

John: Yes, I am. And sometimes we don’t - we never get around to resolving it. So, I really am looking forward what we’re going to hear today.

Jim: Well - and again, I’m pointing out that some of you might think we’re crazy to talk about this. But our guests today really believe that conflict and how you respond to it can actually strengthen your marriage. How about that (laughter)? And I think we all have quite a bit to learn in this regard. Here at “Focus on the Family,” we want to see you thriving in your marriages. And we’re not perfect, I don’t think. I’ll speak for myself...

John: I just admitted I’m not. Yeah.

Jim: I’m not perfect. I consistently mess up. And that’s one of the other things I want to be bold enough to say is that I think in Christian leadership we’ve got to confess our own shortcomings. Human beings are not perfect. That’s exactly why we need Jesus Christ as our Savior. So, we’re starting with that premise. Here at Focus, we want to see you thrive in your marriage, in your parenting, all around. And that’s our main goal.

John: Yeah. And you can find some terrific resources at our website, including the book that our guests have written called Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight. And our guests are married. They’ve been together over 40 years. And they are Deb and Ron DeArmond.

Body:

Jim: Ding ding - round one - here we go, guys.

(LAUGHTER)

Deb DeArmond: Let’s go. Put on the gloves.

Ron DeArmond: I love that.

Jim: Don’t go to bed angry.

John: Stay up and fight.

Jim: Stay up and fight. OK. Let’s get right there. Some people are going, what? That’s not right. So, answer the critic right out of the gate, the person that says, “you should never be fighting as a Christian couple.”

Deb: I don’t think there’s a Christian couple who’s gone through premarital counseling that hasn’t been told that it’s not OK to go to bed angry, that you’ve got to work it out. Don’t let the sun go down on your wraths.

John: That’s Ephesians.

Deb: That’s in Ephesians. And it’s misunderstood. If you break that down, it doesn’t say don’t go to bed until you have a resolution, don’t go to bed until you’ve come to agreement. It means don’t go to bed angry. How long does that take?

Jim: That’s true. It could be. It’s usually just minutes.

Ron: Well, we forget the anger is an emotion. And so, deal with the emotion. What is it that made you angry? And that’s not necessarily the resolution. But at least it’s identifying. And you’re not dealing with the facts. You’re just dealing with the emotion of the thing. And it’s like, hey, can we deal with that? And then we can go to bed. And then we can deal with this tomorrow - the facts of the case.

Jim: So, when you look at the couples that you counsel, I think, in fact, when you wrote this book you did a survey to find out where people were struggling. What were the results of that survey?

Deb: Not surprisingly, the top two were poor communication. And the second one was feeling unappreciated in the marriage. And the truth is if you’re not good at communication, everything on the list after that is going to be impacted.

Jim: So, you think that’s the linchpin. Communication is the key.

Deb: I think it is. And it’s not just, do I communicate well? But am I willing to speak up on this issue and risk conflict? It’s quiet tonight. Do I want to trouble that?

Jim: So, let’s think about the early times in your marriage. Did that prove true for you? Did the survey hold up for your own experience?

Ron: It did. And but, within the communication, there - with the appreciation tagged onto it, it meant that there was an early form of honor in at least dealing with each other so that no matter what we were talking about there was honor and respect. And I value your opinion. I’m looking at what you’re saying. And, you know, actually, it was easier to listen early on than it is later. The older you get the harder it becomes to listen.

Jim: And why do you think that is?

Ron: I - I think... to me, it’s because I’ve formed all these ideas in the process of a conflict. And then she tries to stick in something else. And it’s like, well, I’ve already figured it out. And so...

Jim: So, is your conflict resolution easier today or more difficult?

Deb: It’s just as challenging.

Jim: Just as challenging - I like that.

Deb: Truthfully, it is. You know, when there are children in the house, there’s a buffer there. It’s, like, not in front of the children.

Jim: A buffer?

Deb: A buffer.

Ron: Or a cause.

Jim: A whole conflict - what are you talking about?

Deb: You’re right. Sometimes the argument is about them. But you also don’t want to have that disagreement in front of them. And so sometimes it just resolves itself. Or it’s - later, it’s like, what was that about? So, when it’s very quiet and there’s a lot of, you know, opportunity - and as Ron said, you get older. You think you know it works. I’ll bet for both of you gentlemen there’s been some time when your wife has brought up a topic and you think, I know just where she’s going. Do it for 43 years.

Jim: Well, we’ve done it for 31.

Deb: OK.

Jim: But...

John: There are plenty of times when I don’t have a clue what’s coming. That’s really the problem.

Jim: That’s - I can get that. Now, in the survey, you also identified faith as a perspective. You had some nonbelievers in this survey.

Deb: Yep - we did.

Jim: What did you see - anything distinctively between the Christian group that was surveyed and the non-Christian group?

Deb: No. And that’s why we did it...

Jim: OK.

Deb: ...Because we really wanted to understand. Does our faith give us an advantage?

Jim: Yeah. What does...

Deb: And the answer was no.

Jim: What does that mean to you as counselors, as researchers? That seems like that would be such a deflating data point?

Deb: It was. And Ron’s done a fair amount of - a fair amount - a lot of counseling with men in particular. I think that when tempers flare and the emotions rise, we just forget who we are. And Whose we are.

Jim: Yeah. We go to the flesh.

Deb: We got to the flesh.

Jim: We go to wanting to win.

Deb: Absolutely.

Jim: OK. So how do we let our faith instruct us more constructively?

Ron: We learn to deal with our emotions in a correct way, the way God gave us emotions - not in a negative way. Emotions are not always talked and taught about in our church. We talk about the truth of the Word of God, the black and white of the Word and don’t go to bed angry. And, you know - and the joy of the Lord and all of these emotional things within the scripture. But yet you get into it. And now you’re at home and you’re dealing with frustration, anger and then joy. And it’s like, I need to have an outlet. And most of the men that I work with, they don’t deal with their negative emotion in a way - and share it to their wife. She doesn’t need to know this. She does need to know it. She needs to know what frustrates you, what brings that negative emotion up so that then that positive emotion can come in.

Deb: I will never forget the day that Ron, in the middle of a pretty heated argument, put his hand up in the international stop sign and said, you know, Deb? He said, you process quicker than I do. You talk faster than I do. And if you want to win, girl, you’re on a roll. But he said if you want the best solution for this, we need to deescalate this, really look at it together so we can come up with something we can both agree on. And I’ll be honest enough to say that in a moment I thought, “well, mine is the best solution. Therefore, I win.”

Jim: (Laughter) That’s very honest.

Deb: But part of it was he called it out. And I think that that’s what’s helpful with emotion. If I can see high emotion and he’s just walked in the door, it’s probably not about me or about this issue. Hey, what’s going on?

Jim: Let me ask you this. This is not intended to sound psychobabble-ish. I think the Bible is very straight about, you know, the sins of the father kind of cascading down to generations beneath them. I think what that is describing so often is the environment you grow up in. And families tend to have characteristics. They’re good fighters. They’re avoiders. I mean, this is where you learn how to deal with conflict - is usually in your family of origin. How you grew up watching your mom and dad deal with conflict. Talk about that and then how that impacted the two of you and how you came into your marriage either prepared or not prepared?

Ron: Well, it always - yeah. The sins of the father - it’s like, Holy Lord. Thank you.

Jim: You know, that - isn’t it - it be nice to hear the sins of the mother (laughter). But the scriptures are pretty clear. It’s usually us.

Ron: It’s coming from the heart. But it was. I grew up in a family - early divorce and a military family and then going into a step-situation and stepbrothers. I was the only boy with two sisters. And then my mom marries. And now I have three older stepbrothers. So, all of a sudden, my rank and position in the family...

Jim: How old were you when that merger...

Ron: That happened when I was 9.

Jim: Wow. OK.

Ron: And it just - you know, it really put me - now, I’m in a place. And so now I’m not the man of the house. I was the man of the house for four years while my mom was single. So, I went from the man of the house to the youngest boy.

Jim: The bullied boy most likely.

Ron: Yes - very much - very much so. So now I’m looking at dealing with conflict and growing through that and - but God. I got saved at 12. And that began to change my heart towards everything. And so, I began to get a - His heart towards what was happening...

Jim: Even at that early age.

Ron: Even at that early age, I remember at 13 standing in the garage cleaning it. Every Saturday, I had to clean the garage. The other - the step-boys are gone. It was like Alice...

Jim: I’ll adopt you.

Ron: Oh my gosh.

Jim: You can come clean my garage.

Ron: But it was that. And I remember standing there with a broom in my hand saying, “Lord, I choose today to honor and respect my stepdad because I know one day I’m going to ask my kids to do that same thing.”

Jim: Boy, that is awareness at an early age.

Deb: And I snagged him at 17.

Jim: You saw it coming, huh?

Deb: I did.

Jim: He’s a good man.

Deb: I did.

Jim: So - but that’s it that’s a good example of that family of origin issues. And I - you know, some people - what’s the biblical context? It is the sins of the father, typically sins of the parents very much that cascade down. How about you?

Deb: Well, we’ve kind of joked that I grew up with Ozzie and Harriet. I had a brother who was 16 years my senior. And there were just the two of us. And he was gone by the time I was 2 to college, never returned to the state again. So, I had older parents who were really all grown up. They knew who they were. They weren’t trying to do career-building and moving around a lot, which is what my brother had experienced with them. We talked about the fact that we experienced two very different sets of parents. And if they ever argued, I was never aware of it. If my father, who could be sometimes outrageous, said something my mother did not approve of, she would say, “Larry” - and she did it with a specific tone of voice looking over the top of her glasses...

Jim: We all feel it.

Deb: And it was done. It was done. And either I didn’t inherit the gene, or he’s learned or resist my gift. I’m not sure which of the two it is. But it’s one of those two things. It was never such a big house that if they were fussing and each other I would have heard it. Now, it was quieter at my house. But it didn’t mean that was any better equipped to deal with martial conflict than Ron was because there was avoidance at his house. And then there was explosion. And then things calmed down again for a while. I lived with this very sort of flat line around conflict. So, we - I missed some stuff. I missed that conflict that helps you learn how to deal with people and stuff.

Jim: Right.

John: Well, we’re talking about some really interesting things. Go back, do an evaluation of how you grew up and how that family of origin affects how you deal with conflict, if at all. A lot of practical information still to come from our guest today. We’ve got Ron and Deb DeArmond. And their book is Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight.

Jim: Ding-ding (laughter).

John: And you can get a copy of it and a CD or download of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: Let me pick up the conversation there. You have some rules for engagement. And maybe we can put a little bit of context to this, especially if you have kids in the home, how important this is. But what are the rules?

Deb: Well, we really worked very hard not to argue in front of the kids. We needed privacy for that. And we also understood that small kids don’t understand so much the context. They just understand that there’s something going on with mom and dad.

Jim: Now, you said you tried very hard. Did it occasionally break out, and how did you guys...

Ron: We lived in a three bedroom house. And there was air conditioning vents. So, they heard it.

Jim: So, you weren’t perfect in that regard?

Deb: Oh, heavens, no.

Jim: But you tried hard not to do that.

Deb: Yep.

Jim: OK. That’s good. I just want to qualify that.

Ron: And given that, we always went out after that to bring them together and say, “hey, we know you heard this. We know that you know what we’re arguing about. And we just want to tell you, we’re OK. And we’re OK vertically. We’re OK with Daddy. And I just want to ask you to forgive us for causing...”

Jim: Conflict.

Ron: Yeah, conflict - and not having a peaceful environment in the house.

Jim: OK. So that kind of - that models really well for the children how to deal with some conflict that they might be hearing between the parents. What’s next?

Deb: No one’s allowed to get in the car and drive off. It’s not safe for anybody - not for the driver...

Jim: In the heat of the moment.

Deb: In the heat of the moment. But then the rule that accompanies it is if somebody needs a time out - 15 minutes, 20 minutes...

Jim: Space is OK.

Deb: ...Tomorrow morning, some space to think about this and kind of bring myself back into a reasonable place. If I ask for it or he does, it’s granted without without condition. Because that allows us to be more purposeful and intentional in what we’re doing.

Jim: Right. Another rule that I read is no name calling. Now, I’ve not - I don’t know - you don’t say, “hey you Yankee Doodle Dandy.” I mean, what does that mean? I don’t think I’ve ever done name calling.

Deb: Well, sometimes behavior allows you to label somebody. Like, you’re impatient.

Jim: OK. So that would be name calling.

Deb: That would be name calling. I’m signing you something that’s not a godly attribute. And you’re doing it this moment, but that’s not who you are overall.

Jim: Okay. So, the name calling - another I read in there is nothing physical obviously. And, you know, we always want to qualify that. If you’re in an environment or relationship where it’s physical abuse, you’ve got to get free of that, get help, get counseling. Call us. There’s even a hotline - national hotline for people to get out of an abusive situation. So that disclaimer’s always there and present. Here’s one that’s really critical - no dragging up the past.

Deb: Oh, my goodness.

Jim: I think all of us as human beings do that - both parents between each other as a married couple and then the kids will jump in at times. Dad, you remember when you said to me you never ate ice cream. I’ve seen you eat ice cream since...

Deb: Yeah. And it’s always in the nevers that always get us in trouble. You always do this and you never do that. It’s not easy in the heat of a moment to not connect it to others that begin to roll across your memory. But you got to stay in the moment. That one’s over. Could we just deal with what’s happening now? If we want to talk about patterns, we do that after resolution and the current dustup is done.

Jim: Now, that’s good. Now, we’re really getting into the practical help. So that’s the rules of engagement, the rules of fighting. And I love that. And again, people can get a copy of this. And maybe we can post some of these at some point.

Deb: There’s one more. Can I add it?

Jim: Yeah - got to give them all.

Deb: We didn’t use the D word. We didn’t throw the divorce word around. Because the minute it gives you give that life, it becomes a possibility.

Jim: Correct. That’s a good...

Deb: Something’s that’s never been considered. And all of a sudden, well, where did that come from?

Jim: Good reminder.

Deb: So, we didn’t do it.

Jim: You also talk about the communication traps. I think these are the four S’s.

Deb: They are.

Jim: is that right?

Ron: That is. Yes.

Jim: What are the four S’s?

Ron: They are silence, sulking, sarcasm and sounds.

Deb: And sound is volume.

Jim: And is this something you want to avoid - these four S’s?

Ron: Definitely.

Jim: Oh, yeah. Silence you want to avoid - silence sometimes is a great tool for me because it helps me back out of the emotional side.

Ron: But it creates an environment - silence creates an environment where it seems to be peace - misinterpreted as peace...

Jim: OK, right.

Ron: ...When it’s really just silence.

Jim: So, it’s a form of...

Ron: Avoidance.

Deb: It’s a form of manipulation.

Jim: Manipulation - right, right. OK.

Deb: I’m not speaking to you today. Don’t speak to me.

Jim: Interesting - that’s silence. Sulking, no? - just a little more definition of sulking.

Ron: I have no - I cannot speak to that so that’s - yeah. It’s not...

Deb: He’s not... he’s really not an expert in sulking. That might fall under my area of expertise on occasion. It means that I’m going to just kind of be the (groaning). I’m going to be the grumbly one. I’m going to be the one that says, “sure, yeah, right, whatever you want.”

Jim: Indifference.

Deb: It’s indifference. And sulking also lets you know I’m not happy.

Ron: Sulking does come up in the Bible. It’s called murmuring.

Jim: OK.

Ron: It very much – and I do sulk. I go out to do the lawn and get outside. And all I do is talk about her. And it’s not prayer. It’s, you know, (murmuring). It’s totally murmuring. And it kept Israel out of the Promised Land. And it does - I remember a guy said to me one time - you know, I said, how - you know, speaking about the relationship at home. And I said, do you help around the house? He goes, oh, yeah. I vacuum. I do the dishes. And I said, can I ask your question? Do you talk about her - murmur - while you’re doing it? And he goes, oh, yeah. So, he’s doing these amazing things for his family and his wife. But the whole time he’s talking about her, murmuring.

Jim: Which means he gets no credit.

Ron: Zero credit - and he’s adding pain to it.

Jim: I know that - and then the sarcasm.

Deb: It’s my least favorite on the list. Sarcasm’s...

Jim: It’s because it’s your best trade?

Deb: No, it’s not.

Jim: OK.

Deb: There are other experts in my home around sarcasm. It’s the one-two punch. It’s when somebody goes, you look great today. And then you go, thanks. And then you realize, oh. That’s - that was the mixed message. I don’t look great at all.

Jim: There’s spinach on my tooth.

Deb: It that OK with you? Sure. That’s absolutely fine. And so, there’s this moment when you think, oh, we’ve accomplished an agreement. And then you realize that’s not where you are at all. So...

Ron: I appreciate her talking about that because I don’t see it at all sometimes.

Jim: Well, you see it as a pillow fight.

Ron: Yeah - it’s...

Jim: Sarcasm is just a way to play.

Ron: Yeah.

Jim: I’m guilty of that. I can use sarcasm effectively.

Deb: Yeah.

Jim: And it hurts.

Deb: Sometimes it’s lost some people. Sometimes they don’t get it.

Jim: (Laughter) John’s pointing at me.

John: No, I’m just saying. I think we both are pretty good at that. It’s good to be called on it, frankly.

Jim: Yes, we are going to school today, John. I’ll tell you. OK - sound. I want to hit that one - just yelling...

Deb: Sound is volume.

Jim: It’s volume.

Deb: It’s overpowering somebody else either in conversation or to sort of put them back in their place.

Jim: OK. We need to land on the acronyms that help you out. So, explain the DEAL acronym just quickly. And let’s go to SPEAK so that people are equipped. And again, with your submission, we’ll post n it on the website. And then it’s in the book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight. Again, these are wonderful resources to understand better how to stay closer to your faith than your flesh when you’re in the heat of battle with your spouse. All right - DEAL and SPEAK.

Ron: So, in our marriage relationship, we do need to deal with things. We need to deal with our emotions, with things that we’re going through, thoughts that we’re having. But don’t take the bait in looking at a conflict. Don’t jump into it.

Jim: So that’s the D in DEAL. Don’t jump into it.

Ron: Yeah. That’s the D. Don’t just jump into it. Don’t take the bait. Don’t get the hook, you know?

Jim: Oh, that’s so hard (laughter).

Ron: Yes, it is.

Jim: I am like a fish to the bait when it comes to that.

Ron: That shiny thing.

Jim: The dangling - the shiny thing - I’ll bite on that...

Deb: And my bet is your wife knows what to put on that hook. That’s the problem.

Jim: Oh, without a doubt.

Deb: That’s the problem.

Jim: Don’t take the bait.

Ron: So - and then explain the impact of behavior. And that’s really important because when we sit there and talk about, hey, man, I feel ambushed, I feel this. You know, can I explain to you how that behavior really impacted me? Then it’s a step back and look. And it’s really not about the conflict. It’s the way it was presented. Then the A is ask questions to draw out information. So, ask the questions. What are you going through?

What - are you dealing with something, you know? Was there something from your day? So, ask the questions that help get information so you know where you’re coming from or where they’re coming from. And then lastly in DEAL is let go of the need - The L - the let go of the need to manage the other person.

(LAUGHTER)

Ron: And that is probably the hardest thing, because that’s what we want to do. And but it is - humility says: Let go. Let God. Deal with you. And let God deal with them.

Jim: That is so hard to do. Man, we have got to hit SPEAK just real quick because at the end of the program. But I want to hear it. OK. So, we got to hit it - SPEAK - S.

Deb: S - seek permission to speak. It may not be a good time. If he walks in the door and I hit him immediately with an issue, I’ve already taken perhaps half the opportunity to be successful off the table - not the right time. Hey, we really need to talk about this. Is this a good time? - seek. P is for present the issue, the concern, the opportunity. Talk about the details. Here’s what’s in front of us. Here’s what happened last night that really hurt my heart. I’d like to talk with you about it. And then E is for explore solutions. And you do this together. Two important skills required asking and listening. Ask open-ended questions. The five W’s and the H - who, what, when, where, why and how. And then the harder part of that equation is listen without interrupting, which is the hardest part.

Jim: Man, are we going to school today or what?

Deb: We’ve all lived it. That’s why.

Jim: So that’s SPE.

Deb: That’s SPE. The A is for acknowledge what you hear. When someone pours out their heart to you and you definitely can hear hurt or upset or betrayal, acknowledge that. Gosh, I’m so sorry that you experienced that. I’m sorry that what I said hurt you. And the K is tough. Keep it focused on the current issue. Don’t drag in that thing from 16 years ago.

Jim: How about six days ago?

Deb: Six minutes is a little more...

Jim: That’s a little more in play? It’s true. And I think it’s so much, again, the human nature to do that to say, “well, you remember four years ago when you said fill in the blank.” And you’re going, “I actually don’t.” And that’s actually more irritating, the fact that you don’t remember that.

Ron: You should be thinking about it every day.

Jim: But Deb and Ron, this has been so good. Man, I’m into it. And these acronyms and the things behind things like SPEAK are right there in your great book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight. What a wonderful approach to better communication in marriage, which is, as you pointed out in your survey, the number one breakdown of relationship is this communication area.

If you’re in that place, you, the listener, I’m talking to you - maybe you’ve been hearing what we’re talking about, and you’re saying “this is where we’re at. We’re living this,” and you need help. Call us here at “Focus on the Family.” We have counselors that can help you.

We have a program if your marriage is in deep, deep trouble called Hope Restored. It’s a four-day intensive program that has an 81 percent post two-year success rate. It’s not foolproof. But man, it is as close as anything I know in this country. And it can really help you. That’s true for Canada as well. And we are here to be that guide and that helpful person in your life right now. Lean on us. Don’t be embarrassed.

John: Yeah. Our phone number is 800-232-6459. And that’s to learn more about Hope Restored, to talk to a counselor. And to get a copy of this broadcast and the excellent book by our guests, Don’t Go to Bed Angry.

Jim: You know, John today’s program highlights why we exist. I’ve said that. Think of this. Every month, our counseling team fields over 4,000 calls. And about 1,500 of those will be, you know, desperate marriage situations like we’re talking about. And don’t think that you’re going to be the only one calling. That’s my point. There are many people that are going to turn and see if we can provide some guidance. So, don’t hesitate in that regard.

May I also say if you can support the ministry so we can be that cup of cold water to these couples, join the team. Be part of the monthly support team here at “Focus on the Family.”

When you become a monthly supporter, it helps us to budget and to do the things we need to do to create the resources, the tools, this broadcast, buy the airtime, create the curriculum, all of it. And it’s only happening because of you. And so, if we could kindly ask you to think about becoming a monthly partner, that would be wonderful. And if you do, we’ll send along Deb and Ron’s book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight as our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah. That way you cannot go to bed angry. You can read the book and then you can stand and fight.

Jim: There you go.

John: Go ahead and donate at focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Ron and Deb, let me finish with this last question. To the couple - the person who’s listening, and they know they’re in the depth of conflict, what’s the ladder? What’s the first two steps of the ladder look like? We’ve been fighting all our lives, all our married lives, and we’re not getting better. We’re not even talking to each other. We’re feeling the four S’s, the silence, the sarcasm, all of it. What’s the first step of the ladder look like?

Ron: The first thing is to know that your spouse is not the enemy. OK? That is the first thing. Know they’re not the enemy. Something else is. So, get your eyes off of them as being the enemy.

Deb: And conflict can help you lead to great discovery. Gee, I didn’t know you felt like that. Gee, I never thought that way.

Jim: Better intimacy.

Deb: Better intimacy...

Jim: Emotional intimacy.

Deb: If it’s handled well - if it’s not, it takes you to damage and potentially destruction.

Jim: Well said.

Closing:

John: Well, we do hope you’re going to take to heart some of these conflict resolution strategies. And then, of course, plan to join us here, next time, as we hear from Dr. Kathy Koch about how you can pull your kids away from their screens.

Teaser:

Dr. Kathy Koch: But, as much as possible, read... reading together, exploring together, playing together. That’s when emotions connect. That’s when relationships build. And we can all do this.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathy: We can get our kids back if we’re willing to be brave.

End of Teaser

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Guest

Ron and Deb DeArmond

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Ron DeArmond has served in ministry positions with Christian Men's Network and Faithful Men's Ministry and has taught men's curriculum internationally in India, Russia, and several African nations. He and his wife, Deb, are currently the Associate Pastors of Adult Ministry at Catch the Fire/DFW. Deb is also the author of several books including I Choose You Today and Don't Go to Bed Angry, which she co-wrote with Ron. The DeArmonds have been married more than 40 years and have three married sons and seven grandchildren. Learn more about the couple at Deb's website, debdearmond.com.