5 Benefits of Understanding Each Other’s Conflict Style

This article first appeared on iMom.com. You can view the original post here.

Earlier this year, my husband and I were honored to be asked to be a sort of mentor couple for friends who were engaged. We’d meet twice a month, and they’d ask us whatever they wanted about marriage and family life. Most of the time, these sessions made me feel pretty good about our marriage. Then the couple asked us how we handled conflict in marriage. My husband’s immediate response was that “we don’t.”I was shocked, embarrassed, and confused. But as my husband explained his response, I realized he was right. We did in fact avoid conflict because we didn’t know how to fight well. But if you want to learn to fight, you need to learn each other’s conflict styles—the things you do during arguments and what they really mean. Here are 5 benefits of understanding each other’s style of conflict in marriage.

1. Problems will actually get resolved.

Earlier in my marriage, when my husband and I disagreed, I would shut down at the first show of anger and then avoid him for hours. He was used to parents who fought loudly; I was not. Because I was so quick to shut down, we very rarely argued, but we also never resolved our problems. I didn’t understand that raised voices were a normal part of my husband’s conflict style; he didn’t realize he was scaring me. Arguments don’t necessarily lead to resolutions, but if each spouse knows how the other fights, you’ll be able to identify the crux of the matter and find resolutions more effectively.

2. You’ll know what to expect.

Once you know how you and your husband differ, you can create a conflict management method that works for both of you. For instance, I need to process things alone before discussing them with my husband, so I like to go for a walk when conflicts arise. Before I told him this, my husband didn’t know what I was doing. He thought I was running away, and it hadn’t occurred to me that my husband didn’t know I needed to collect my thoughts by myself. Now, in an argument, my husband knows I will go for a walk to process my thoughts, and then we’re both prepared to approach the issue together when I get back.

3. You’ll feel respected.

Knowing your differences in approaching conflict can help you both to fight fair and respect each other. When I left the house during a fight, my husband took it as a sign of disrespect. He thought I didn’t care. I didn’t mean to hurt him with my actions, but it happened anyway because he didn’t understand the reason for my actions. Similarly, many women cry when they’re upset, and husbands might wrongly assume that their wives are trying to manipulate them. If both spouses know how the other approaches conflict, you can fight fairly and know that no one is intentionally trying to hurt or disrespect you.

4. Fights will be shorter.

Tensions will dissolve more quickly if you’re familiar with each other’s conflict styles. If you’ve established a method for accommodating different ways of fighting, you’ll be able to skip unnecessary frustrations and move right to addressing the problem. Usually, if I left the house during a fight, my husband would not be waiting for me when I returned. Because of that fact, sometimes it took us days to fix things. Now that he knows how I handle conflict, I know he’ll be waiting for me so we can resolve the situation immediately. Couples who understand each other’s conflict style can create the best environment for healthy confrontation, allowing them to move beyond certain hang-ups and get straight to the point.

5. You’ll grow closer as a couple.

Knowing each other’s conflict styles will encourage you and your husband to grow closer together. I once heard a married woman say that conflict is meant to unite couples. I couldn’t help but think to myself, No, conflict pulls couples apart. But she was right. Couples argue because spouses want the other to share their opinion. They want to see eye to eye. If you understand each other’s conflict styles, you can create unity more easily. Sharing an intimate part of yourself with your husband requires vulnerability, and the more fully couples understand each other, the more united they’ll become.

How the Rule of 1 Can Refresh Your Marriage

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, the priest assisting us suggested that we commit to one date night out a month. He admitted that it could be hard and a bit expensive because of babysitters, but he was adamant that it would be worth it. And he was right. We needed those nights out of the house.

But they weren’t enough on their own. Over the past seven years, we have gradually created the “Rule of One.” This rule recognizes that couples need to reconnect regularly if they want their marriage to be healthy and happy. Monthly dates alone aren’t going to cut it—a lot can happen in a month, and you just can’t leave it all to be hashed out during your date night. Take a look at the three parts of the Rule of One to see how they will help you refresh your marriage.

5 Things Your Teens Have in Common With Toddlers

“What would you do if your daughter screamed ‘I hate you!’ and stormed out the door?” a mom of a 3-year-old asked me. I thought back to the countless moms of teens who had asked me that same question when I was a youth minister. My answer for the toddler mom was the same as it had been for the moms of teens—I’d let her vent outside, but then bring her in. I’d acknowledge her feelings of frustration and anger, but then remind her of the house rules. The only difference here was that I didn’t need to warn that mom to hide her keys if her kid has a history of taking off in the family car. Luckily for all of us, toddlers don’t drive.

I have been both a youth minister to teens and a mom to toddlers, and I still can’t get over the similarities. Parenting toddlers is tough; so is raising teens. But the good news? The toddler years are a phase that passed, and the teen years will pass, too. Plus, you can use some of the same tactics again now that you used when your children were toddlers. Just consider these 5 things your teens have in common with toddlers.

Book Review: “Living Beyond Sunday” by Adam and Haylee Minihan and David and Pamela Niles

I am always looking for more ways to make my home and my family more “Catholic.” I don’t want the only thing that makes us Catholic to be the fact that we go to Mass on Sunday. Our faith has so much more depth than that. There is so much more that we can do with our faith. I want our lives to look Catholic. I want our homes to look Catholic. I want our faith to be more than just Sunday. I want to live my faith, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you feel the same way, then this book can help you to do it.

“Living Beyond Sunday” talks about the ways that we can make time and space sacred. It talks about the holy calling of mothers and fathers. It talks about the value of liturgical living, and gives you practical ways to do it. I don’t want my kids thinking what we’re Catholic just because we go to church on Sundays. Being Catholic does involve going to Mass on Sundays, but it can and should be so much more than that. Our homes should look Catholic. Our days should be peppered with moments of prayer. Our lives should revolve around the faith and move with the liturgical calendar. The Church has given us such a beautiful gift in her seasons and cycles. We just have to use it!

“Living Beyond Sunday” is the perfect combination of theology and practical suggestions. It explains why we should live liturgically and how we might go about doing it. If you are looking for an easy way to imbue the faith in your children, this is the book for you. If you want to teach the faith to your children by the way you live your life, this is the book for you. If you want to know why it’s important to live beyond Sundays, “Living Beyond Sunday” is the book for you.

What to Say to a Teen Who Wants to Be the Popular Kid

I never told my mom that I wanted to be popular, but I’m sure my actions spoke louder than words. I remember being 14 and crying as I threw out my favorite red t-shirt. Why would I do such a thing? Because a popular kid had commented that the shirt made me look like a boy. I loved that shirt, but I thought I loved being popular more. I spent years trying to be like the cool kids, but I wasn’t really happy until I tried being myself instead.

In my time working with teens, I met many kids who made all sorts of sacrifices in the quest to become popular. I knew that if I could see those changes, their parents had to notice them, too. So if you confront your teens and they tell you they want to be the popular kid, here are 5 questions you can ask to get them to open up.

I Was the Girl Who Was Always Reading and I’m Finding Her Again

This article originally appeared on Her View From Home’s website. You can view it here.

I used to be the girl with a book in her bag. When I was growing up, if I had even one free minute, I would pull a book out of my bag and read. I read in line at the grocery store. I read when I had finished all my schoolwork early. I read while riding the bus to and from school. There was always a book in my backpack. When I finished school and got my first job, the book just moved into my purse. I read during breaks at work. I read while I waited to get gas in my car (yeah, I’m a native Jersey girl, and I did not pump my own gas until I moved south). I was always reading.

I have always loved reading. I love the fictional worlds, the characters, the stories. When I was struggling to understand the world I lived in, I found comfort in the worlds offered by books. When I was the new kid in school and didn’t have friends, I turned to the characters in my beloved books. I would often imagine myself in those worlds, a part of those stories, living alongside the characters. I dreamed about those worlds at night, and on occasion, I even tried my hand at writing new stories for my favorite characters in my creative writing classes. They were my friends, and I loved them.

The first place I was allowed to ride alone was the town library. I would check out as many books as my bike’s basket could fit and return the following week for new ones. I could read multiple books in a week and usually, multiple books at the same time. I have always had a book on my bedside table, a book on the coffee table, and a book on the kitchen counter. I found every opportunity I could to read.

I did not give up reading entirely when I became a mom. As I fed my children at night, I read. I read every night for a little bit before falling asleep. I read on Sunday afternoons during the quiet peace of nap time. I still had a book on my bedside table, another on the coffee table, and one more on the kitchen counter. But there was no book in my bag. My bag was a diaper bag, and it was filled to the brim with diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, toys, and food. There was no room for a book. And when would I read it anyway?

And so for four years, I lost sight of the girl I had once been—the girl with a book in her bag. And I didn’t even realize she was missing until I finally found her again. I finally became her again.

I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore. I carry a purse again instead. It still has a small pack of wipes and snacks, but the days of diapers are fast receding. But now there is something else in my bag . . . a book. I used to be the girl who always had a book with her, and I finally am again. I rediscovered her. She was temporarily lost, but I found her. And hopefully this time I’ll do a better job holding onto her.

I am the girl with a book in her bag again. If you find me with my kids at the playground, I might be reading the latest murder mystery. If you find me sitting at the pediatrician’s office, I might be reading my favorite Jane Austen novel. If you find me sitting in my car on the school pick-up lane, I might be rereading the Harry Potter series for the fourth or fifth time. You’ll never know for sure what I will be reading, but you can rest assured that I will have a book in my bag. Because that’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been, and I’m never losing sight of that girl again.

Ability Does Not Determine Dignity

I recently had the opportunity to read Joseph Dutkowsky’s book Perfectly Human. It is a charming combination of his memoirs, an ode of love to his wife, and a testimony to the very dignity of those who might be called “the least of these,” (Matthew 25:40). Joseph Dutkowsky has spent a large portion of his life working with children, as well as adults, with various disabilities. In Perfectly Human, he does a lovely job demonstrating how these boys and girls, and men and women, are the face of Christ in the world, just as surely as Dr. Joe is the face of Christ to his patients. It is a wonderful reminder that we are all called to be Christ to others, and that we are all invited to find Christ in our fellow man.

Perfectly Human features a series of entertaining anecdotes from Dr. Joe’s life that demonstrate how he got to be where he is today. From his youth as a Polish kid growing up in New York to his days as a resident working absurd hours on very little sleep, the reader is invited to accompany Dr. Joe as he found his vocation as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of children with disabilities to an advocate for the rights and dignity of those same people he regularly met, treated, and loved. Dr. Joe’s stories do a great job painting a portrait of the kind of doctor he is. 

Within the pages of Perfectly Human can also be found a beautiful love story between Joseph Dutkowsky and his late wife, Karen. Even though the focus of his book is undeniably his work with children and adults with disabilities, stories of his life with Karen are beautifully interwoven throughout the pages of the book. It is clear that his love of his wife and her support of his work were pivotal in the living out of his vocations as an orthopedic surgeon and an advocate for people with disabilities. 

Finally, Dr. Joe’s book is a beautiful reminder that we all share a common humanity and a common dignity bestowed on us by Christ. Our imperfections, disabilities, and differences do not make us any less perfectly human. God can be found in the child with cerebral palsy just as He can be found in the doctor who treats her.

We are all called to imitate Christ and to give glory to God with our lives, and this is done with and through our imperfections, disabilities, and differences. Each of us carries a cross that has been perfectly crafted for us. It is this cross that will enable us to get to heaven. There is glory to be found in our crosses, even if the world does not see it. Perfectly Human is a lovely reminder that ability does not determine dignity, and that we are all created as precious children in the eyes of God, the only eyes with which we should want to see.

4 Ways to Squash Mean Girl Tendencies in Your Daughter

My daughter’s a natural leader. She’s charming and charismatic, and at just 3 years old, she’s already collected a little posse around her. Right now, she’s sweet and innocent, but as I watch her, I can’t help but wonder: Is this the beginning of a mean girl? What are the telltale signs your daughter is a mean girl?

She has so many of the characteristics of your typical “mean girl” but with none of the actual meanness. How can I be sure she’ll grow up to have empathy, humility, and kindness rather than being controlling, manipulative, and arrogant? If you have a daughter and you want her to stay away from these tendencies, too, try these 4 tips to avoid creating a “mean girl.”

The Role of Motherhood in the World and Its Importance (Part 2)- Motherhood in a Fallen and Redeemed World

This blog post was originally given as the second half of a talk for the women at the New Eve Maternity Home in Winchester, VA. Women were supposed to experience pregnancy without pain or suffering, but because of the fall … Continue reading