What will you do if somebody with a marital problem reports it to you?
Many people handle the marital problems brought to them so badly that they instead aggravate the situation.
There is always the temptation to go into the conflict and try to get who is wrong. This is a dangerous road. Each of the couples is expecting you to put the blame for the conflict on the other person. If you do that you will only complicate the problem.
That is why I think it useful to discuss and share experiences and approaches.
If some body reports their marital problem to you, that will mean the person sees you as someone with the potential to solve it.
This will be a mark of confidence which should make you happy.
And if someone has confidence in you that you can solve their problem, do not disappoint them.
It is not easy to solve a problem between a couple. Marital problems are usually delicate; and demand a lot of care and wisdom.
Let me share what I do when somebody reports their marital problem to me. How I usually handle such problems could be a source of inspiration to you.
The first thing I do when a couple comes to me to handle their marital problem is to pray within them.
Praying with them brings God into the picture. And that is a signal to them that God has to be number one in their marriage.
Please, don’t skip this point. It is absolutely important.
After praying, I tell them why we started with a prayer. I tell them prayer is the master key; that prayer has to be at the center of their marriage; that God never fails those who put their trust in him.
I tell them of my confidence that with the prayer, God would grant us the grace to find a solution to their problem.
Next, I will tell them about marriage and marital problems. I will tell them that problems are part and parcel of every marriage; that there is no marriage that is problem free; that even those couples that look as if they were perfect were having their own problems.
I will tell them the difference between the couple that succeeds and the one that fails, which is the way they handle their problems.
I will tell them sometimes a couple will have a very serious problem and because of the way they handle it, they will solve it and their relationship will become even stronger. Another couple will have just a minute problem and because of the poor way of handling it, it will shatter their marriage.
Hence, it is not the seriousness of the problem that matters, but how well it is handled.
The next thing is I will tell them what marriage means; that when a man and a woman come together, they are no longer two but one; which means they have to act like one. The pronoun “I” is replaced by “we”. Each person no longer looks at things from the point of view of “I” but “we”.
I will tell them that if you are married and continue to look at things only from your point of view, it will mean you have a selfish heart; with a selfish heart you cannot make a good spouse. For a marriage to succeed, each couple has to be selfless and not selfish to the other person.
I will invite them to be open during the discussion so that the best solution can be found to their problem.
I will tell them that what God has put together, no one has the right to put asunder; and this includes them. They have no right according to God’s plan, to tear their marriage apart.
That God never makes a mistake to bring two people together;
That before putting them together, he knew they were the best for each other.
Hence, nobody in this world can be as good for them as each other.
I will tell them the devil is very cunning. He doesn’t like to see a good thing and so each time he sees a good thing, he will look for a way to poison people’s minds against it so as to destroy it.
Then I will invite them to open their minds and hearts to each other so as to resolve the conflict and move forward as a couple.
I will tell them that the devil is not happy when he sees husband and wife reconciling after a quarrel or misunderstanding.
I will tell them not to give the devil a chance to succeed; that one tool the devil uses is pride. He will fill your heart and mind with it so that you don’t listen to your spouse; so that you think that listening to your spouse is like conceding defeat; so that you remain uncompromising.
I will tell them that they should take the responsible decision to resolve their misunderstanding; that people who have a conflict and do not resolve it are irresponsible and cowards.
After taking the decision to work things out, they should forgive each other, then very sincerely look at the problem and see what solution they can bring to it.
I will tell them it will not be easy; but if they are committed and bring God into it as their senior partner, they will get the right answer.
I will ask that if they really like their problem solved, they should fully open up and be fair to each other.
At this point, I will say a very special prayer for them.
By this time. I think they should be feeling better about each other which and better ready to find a lasting solution to their problem.
I see people who are called to help a couple resolve their conflict doing the opposite.
What you need most is to get them into a state of mind and heart to solve their problem.
Once you get them into this state, you can thank God. But if you immediately jump to let each one pour out their bitterness, you will get a good dose of them, but which will only lead you to a dead end.
After preparing the field this way, I will them offer them the chance to speak. But I will caution them against hate language, language that hurts as it is not meant for people whom God has brought together. I will encourage them to show mutual respect as that is the way Christians are called to talk to one another.
After listening to them, I will decide how to proceed, avoiding to make any of them see themselves the evil person.
In the end, gathering from what they shared, I would say how God expects husband and wife to live; how when you wrong your spouse you should be courageous enough to say “I am sorry!”, and when your spouse says ” I am sorry “, you should readily forgive.
This is my approach. I do not know how you feel about it. Kindly let me know. What do you propose as a way to handle marital conflict?
Is my approach worth trying out?