The next topic I want to cover is what the Driscolls called “The Four Horsemen” of conflict in marriage. (From Dr. John Gottman’s observations)
Horsemen #1 = criticism – meaning not just having a complaint about something your spouse did that you find annoying or frustrating. It goes deeper – attacking his character or personality. Complaints attack the problem. Criticism attacks the person.
Horseman #2 = contempt – this is showing disgust for your spouse. Name calling, condescending humor, belittling, body language…. it grows over time with unresolved conflicts. We just stack it all in one big heap of disgust.
Horseman #3 = defensiveness – refusal to apologize or back down when you are guilty in a conflict. I remember some of these when DH and I were going through my refusing years. I deflected (or tried to) the blame on him… it was all his fault, when in all actuality, I didn’t want to admit I was wrong.
Horseman #4 = stonewalling – we stop working toward reconciliation, and start living separate lives. This includes ignoring your husband, turning your back on him when he tries to converse with you, and disengage emotionally and verbally with him…. essentially, you check out.
In this chapter, it states that when these 4 horsemen take up residence in your home “statistically it will end in divorce”. I am so grateful that DH and I are not one of those statistics. Thankfully for me, my husband was stubborn and not going to give up on me. But I tell you what, we sure did live for a while like friends with benefits during my refusing years…that’s something that I know DH cringes hearing about…. but that was my fault. My sin got in the way.
What is needed if we are seeing these Horsemen in our household? First recognize your sin. You can do nothing about his… sins by omission (where you do not do what you should do) and commission (where we do what we ought not do) Repent of those sins. Remember, that repentance means that you are sorry and you will not do it ever again. Repentance includes three parts to it… confession, contrition, and change. You need to be prepared to do all three…. Second, forgive if your spouse does confess his own sin. Forgive quickly. Remember that no one has been sinned against more than God. Yet, he still forgives us daily. The chapter goes through what forgiveness IS NOT, but remember forgiveness IS loving despite sin. Third, let go of all bitterness. Bitterness has roots, and usually we don’t feel bitter toward strangers, but people who we have deeper ties with and bigger expectations. Fourth, if you have a fight, make it a good fight, meaning on that reconciles instead of creates enemies and bitterness.
What are your thoughts?
This book changed our marriage!!! I had been told about Mark Driscoll by our unmarried son who had listened to the Real Marriage Sermon series online (iTunes has it too) and as I listened to it I got so excited by the possibilities I ordered the book! WOW!!! I had prayed for years to understand my hangups and issues and this book and sermons on the book helped me to see that I was coming at sex from a totally unhealthy angle. As I studied and thought about it I became emboldened to talk to my husband about what I was learning, desiring the deep friendship that the Driscolls talk about. We have been SOOOOO much closer in SOOOO many ways since reading this book.
One way that I fight is to stonewall and for the last 6 months I have worked hard at not doing that and making room for discussion and seeing that our marriage is a friendship to be valued, protected and enjoyed. I have told a lot of people about this book as it truly has turned our very good marriage into an incredibly deep, loving, sensual, intensely close one….I would recommend it to every couple to read and discuss.
I don’t think repentance has to be perfect to make a difference in your marriage. I know that I kept wanting my husband to repent of his sins, for years and years, and it wasn’t until I began repenting of my sin that it made a difference in our marriage. But, it was a very gradual repentence on my part. It took a long time for my heart to soften and see my own sin. Thankfully God is good, and He loves it when we turn to Him, even in our imperfection.