Research shows that arguments over small, nagging things happen as often as 312 times a year for the average married couple. The little stuff, if not managed properly, can ultimately damage your relationship.
A small conflict can blow up into a big one if you don’t pay attention to these little things.
In this episode, we share the two keys you need to stop conflict before it starts, as well as a research-backed exercise that will help you alleviate the damage of all the little things that can cause perpetual conflict.
So today we're talking about how to stop conflict before it starts. And, um, we're going to share a really sweet. exercise that we learned from a psychologist from a psychologist couple, actually, who, um, they, they're like the foremost researchers, dr less and Leslie parrot, which is interesting. Both their names are less, but these guys are fantastic.
And so we learned something cool from them, but we're going to talk about how to solve conflict and how to stop it before it starts. Um, can all use a little more advice about conflict, can't we? Yeah, and what I love is that Tori and I, you guys know we're not experts, we're not experts at anything, but man, we like to research and we like to study and we like to figure out cool little things and whatever we learn, we just give to you.
That's exactly right. You got a song for us, Tori? I do. So we were hiking with some friends recently and Lindsay Johnson gave me a few good love songs. Hell, Jay. Thanks Lindsey for these. I don't even know. It's we've done so many. I don't think we've done this one. No, we haven't. You don't think we did? No, I don't think we did either.
Um, Faithfully by Journey. It's such a classic. It is so good. Give you guys a little teaser.
That's the best voice ever.
It's fading out on us. Oh, blast it.
I don't think we have time for the chorus. It's, it's running a little slow, but man, that is a classic song. If you don't like Journey, then find yourself another podcast to listen to. Okay, so we're talking conflict, um, and marriage. As Tori and I have said in our book, we're actually finishing a second book, um, marriage A to Z, 30 principles to transform your relationship.
And in there we talk about how marriage is the context for conflict. It's the context for conflict. Why? Because God uses conflict to make us more into his image. That's how he does it. It's kind of like fine grit sandpaper. Mm hmm. Exactly. Um, Tori, uh, kind of doesn't like when I use this analogy, but I think it's perfect.
It's, it's like when you, when she makes, um, cookies. Her Ranger cookies, which are my favorite. We're having a couple, um, to our house tonight, and they're going to spend two days with us for a marriage intensive. Dan and Jess Smith. And Tori has made ranger cookies and I can't wait to dive in, but if she's making those ranger cookies, I compare marriage to how she does the cookies and conflict is the actual bowl.
So Tori's got all these ingredients out, sugar and flour. Let's say that's husband and wife and they got all these other ingredients. And, um, those things, you know, they, I guess they could taste decent on their own. Maybe not, but if you put them together, they become something together that they can't be on their own.
Right? And they taste way better, but you got to put them into the bowl and mix them up. And so marriage is that. It's the mixing bowl. It's the mixing bowl. But obviously the bonding agent. Is the eggs in, uh, in a batch of cookies and the bonding agent for us would be the Holy Spirit. So there you go, Holy Spirit, you're the egg.
I love it. That's such a great Baptist analogy. It is. Thank you. I appreciate that. No, it is true though. It's really good. And we talk about in our book, um, about how conflict really, it unveils so much, right? Like for us in our relationship, if we go to our very first conflict in marriage on our honeymoon.
And we really unpack what it was, it, it really is a revealer of insecurities, of deep rooted issues that need to be brought up for us to be fully healed and to be our full selves in the relationship, our full healthy selves. And so it's going to start with some conflict. There's, it's going, conflict is the great revealer and, and if we can, you know, learn from it, we're better for it.
Um, but the worst thing we can do is to run from conflict and avoid it, um, and, and not grow. Thank Yeah, that's true. So marriage is the context for conflict, uh, and within marriage, we learn how to live like Jesus and love like Jesus, right? Okay, now, that being said... We're not supposed to be fighting all the time.
So yes, you will experience conflict, but if you're fighting all the time, that's not a good sign. Perpetual conflict. It's not good. It's not healthy. If we let it continue. So we need to do something about it. Right. And one of the biggest things that leads to perpetual conflict is little things. It's the little things that happen.
And we end up thinking about those things in a negative way. All right. So we had a principle in our business, me and David did, um, be faithful in little. Like, so we trained all of our employees and franchisees and all of those, all our contractors. Be faithful in the little things. You know, if you're going to run a sprint, the speck of sand in your shoe, it's not going to bother you.
No big deal. You don't even have to get it out. You could have a, actually have a massive dirt clot in your shoe and run a hundred meters fast. But if you're gonna run a marathon that same tiny little speck of sand that means nothing in a sprint it out It'll actually destroy your foot in a marathon Marriage is a marathon.
We've got to pay attention to the little things. See don't you love the analogies? I mean, I am rolling them really are rolling. I like that. That's a lot of Baptist youth camps that I went to So Drs. Parrott
For this research shows that arguments over small nagging things happen as often get this tour as often as 312 times a year for the average married couple Wow tiny little arguments small nagging issues 312 times a year. Research backed. Okay. Okay. So the little scrapes and spots and, or spats and squabbles, ultimately they end up damaging your relationship.
So a small conflict can blow up into a big one if you don't pay attention to it when it's small. Okay. So we need to do something about it. Can I give you one more analogy? I know you're analogied out. No, I'm dying to hear it. But like if you've got a sore on your arm or something, or your arm is hurt. And then somebody accidentally brushes up against it.
Yeah. Your reaction is probably going to be way worse than what they really did. Yeah, exactly. They maybe brushed against it in a line or something. The issue wasn't the person and what they did. The issue was that you were already hurt. Those little things in marriage. That is a very good analogy actually.
Well, thank you. Was it better than the others? No, they were good, but I like that one the best. There you go. I mean, that one, it's pretty, you can grasp exactly what you are trying to make the point. Yeah. So we, we end up overreacting to our spouse. Who really didn't do anything. And when we react like that, we need to make sure that we're paying attention.
Something's going on in our heart, and we need to take care of that. And often times it's the small things. So, how do we do that? Well, there's two ways. And then we're going to get into this exercise. Because this exercise is really fun. Uh, there's two ways. How do we overcome the small stuff and stop conflict before it starts?
Two ways. First, take thoughts captive. Second, give emotions a voice. So first, take your thoughts captive. You don't let negativity run around, right? A captive thought is not a dead thought. It's just one that's not allowed to run around and control you. You're in charge. Your thoughts are not in charge. Why?
Because your thoughts are going to lead to emotions. Right, and those emotions can wreck you if you keep thinking the way that you're thinking. So you got to take thoughts captive You make them I think I grew up thinking that taking thoughts captive was Putting them to rest like to to just put them cap to make them captive in my mind was To let go of them, right?
But that's not what it is. It isn't. And that was revolutionary to me when I learned that, that it's just simply putting them captive, like setting them captive. Lock them up, put them in jail. Yes. You're the warden. They aren't. Exactly. But it, I think that's just so freeing that there is, that there's a place for them and we're going to come back to it, right?
Like you're going to, I'm locking you up cause I don't have time to deal with you right now. And then I'm going to come back and I'm going to deal with you and figure out what to do with you. It's not, With it's not just stuffing it down and never coming back. Yeah, it's like, uh, my dad, he owned a bar when he got saved and he drank a lot.
My mom was going to leave him and the whole bit. And then he got radically saved when David and I were like six months old or something like that. And from that day forward, dad, cold Turkey stopped drinking. And, but I asked him, I said, Hey, do you ever have a temptation to drink a beer? And he's like, you know, on a really hot day.
I sometimes, you know, have had that fluttering thought or fleeting thought of, uh, an ice cold beer would taste really good. He's like, but I just lock it up and I don't let it run around. And then I, I'm done. So he's 40, almost 50 years sober at this point without a drop of alcohol in his body. No wine, no nothing.
And, but that's, that's what taking the thought captive looks like. And we have the power and the agency to do that. Yeah. That's strong. Like we have, we can do this. Yeah. So the thoughts can still bark at you when they're in jail, but just don't let them come in and run over, run, run over you and take the rule.
Okay. Um, so first we take thoughts captive. The second is we give emotions a voice because your emotions are real. Remember, emotion is an impulse to act. Um, we cannot let our emotions stay trapped. Now this is where we come to the exercise. Okay. Cause this exercise is really important and it's really cool.
And it was so cool that Tori and I actually kind of did it today a little bit and it was fun. Um, and it, it's this, it's called sharing withholds. Okay. When I first read that, I was like, what the heck is that? Okay. So a withhold is like every day in marriage, we hold onto information that our spouse doesn't know about.
We just little thoughts that come into our mind. Our spouse doesn't know about it. It's not that we're being secretive or private. But we're just traveling to the speed of light. Yeah, exactly. Right? You're doing your thing, I'm doing my thing, we're doing our thing. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Right? So, both positive and negative thoughts come into my mind, and you just tuck them away.
Yep. You don't think anything of it. Alright? And, and what happens is, issues register in our minds, and just before we have a chance to talk about it, we're interrupted by something. Mm hmm. So the issue could be a positive or a negative, um, like, uh, on the positive side, I'm with Tori and I want to compliment her on the way that she handled, uh, one of our kids, or she handled her own parents or something like that.
I'm like, Oh, I kind of appreciate the way that she handled that situation. It was really good, but I don't want to say it in front of them. So I hold onto it. Then I get busy and I never get around to saying it. Next thing you know, I've forgotten it. That is a positive withhold. Okay, now, ultimately, not saying the positive stuff for too long leads to disconnection in your relationship.
You have to find a way to remember to let that go. And that's where the exercise is going to get. Now a negative withhold looks something like this. So your spouse does something Or says something that maybe rubs you the wrong way and for whatever reason you're not able to tell them. Maybe you're in front of somebody and you don't want to embarrass them or something like that.
Um, then later on, it may even come back to your mind but you're so exhausted and you know that it's going to take 30 minutes and you're, you just, you just go to bed and you forget about it. That's a negative withhold. Now not voicing a negative thought in your mind. Or a negative emotion, uh, it results in contempt.
Remember we talked about this in one of our podcasts. You've got to scroll back into our podcast and listen to the four horsemen. Okay. Um, dealing with the, the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Contempt is the number one relationship killer. Contempt is caused by unchecked criticism in your mind where you have had critical thoughts toward your spouse.
Then if you have enough unchecked criticism in your mind where you've got critical thoughts towards your spouse, you begin to compare yourself to them and you place yourself in a superior position. The minute you start thinking like that, relationship is headed toward disaster. So, that is what a negative withhold look like, looks like.
Okay, so now here's the problem. Thoughts and emotions buried, never die. The negative stuff's gonna bubble back and ultimately if you don't... Let it out. It's gonna explode. Yeah. So here's the exercise at least once a week Okay, now I, I don't like this being like some technical thing, but if you've, if you, if you think to yourself, you know what, I think I've, I've done that, then do this tonight with your spouse.
Okay. Here's what you're going to do. Get with your spouse. Both of you think about two positive things and one negative thing that you've done. So, so, or that your spouse has done. So I would think about two negative, two positive things that Tori has done in the past few days that I didn't voice to her.
Or something I thought of her. It could be that I thought she looked really pretty in this dress. But the, just before I said it, Lundy jumped in and interrupted and then I never complimented you. Like, that's what I'm talking about. So think of two things. And think of then one negative thing, if you can think of anything.
Okay, so you got three things you're going to think about. And if you have to write it down, write it down, but the two positive and one negative. Okay. And your spouse is thinking the exact same thing. Now spouse one shares all three things. Okay. So you say the first thing and after that, here's, here's why it's, this is an exercise.
When spouse one is sharing the three things after each thing the only thing spouse two can say is thank you I love it because Okay, well before I get to that then spouse two We flip it around spouse two now shares the two positive things And the one negative and spouse one says at the end of each Thank you And then you give it 30 minutes before you discuss the negative and what this does it allows Uh, each spouse to bring up something negative without fear of a blow up or negative interaction, and it creates what researchers call a soft onset to conflict.
That's so good. What a great practice. I wish we had known this. I know. 25 years ago. I was telling Tori this this morning and she did it. She literally, do you remember what you said? Yeah, that's not really important. It's not. No, I don't think we have to get into our own personal detail. It's so good though.
It was so good because it was just such a great practice and I want to keep doing this with you more and more because you're just making space for this open communication. Yeah. You're, and it's a plan. It's a system, right? It's like, okay, I'm going to tell you a couple things. You're going to, you know, you're going to tell me a couple things and we're going to wait and then, and then there's a safe place where both of us In a place where we're like, we're, we're ready to hear, we're ready to listen.
We're ready to learn. Like our hearts are prepared for it. It's not like just this random bringing up this negative thing. Like your heart is ready for it. You're like in the mindset of growing together. And it just, I just love it. I think it's such a healthy practice. You know, I have had a real bad habit of putting my foot in my mouth in the past.
And there are times where I will. Almost say something like I love, like for some reason, funny thoughts come to me at the wrong times all the time, you know, we're in a serious moment with a bunch of people and then all of a sudden I say something and it takes people a solid 30 seconds to figure out why I just derailed the train.
So Tori has been on me about, Hey, maybe don't do that or whatever every now and then we'll be in a conversation with other people and she'll see me almost say something that I don't. And you know what, later on that night, she'll tell me, I'm really proud of you for not saying that. Right. But that's, that's not withholding it.
Right. And that's, it's so important that when there are things in your marriage that you have talked to your spouse about, and then you, the minute you see improvement, you need to jump on that. Yeah. I know what you're thinking. White on rice. So I'm saying it for you white on rice, like Tori on the dance floor, you really, you got to jump on it because it's, it's so important that they are, you're not just constantly saying what's negative, but you're saying, Oh my goodness, I noticed that you did this thing that you knew was important to me.
Thank you so much that that is how things really get resolved is I think that we're, we're made our minds are. And our, um, we're, we're made for reward, right? We, we are reward driven people and it's a reward when your spouse or somebody else says, I noticed that you did this. It's something that I know you've been working on.
That was, that was awesome. Like that praise is like a reward to us and we need it and it helps keep us motivated and keep, and it keeps us focused on doing the things that we're really working on doing. Yeah. You know, and ultimately, it's, it's the best practice is don't withhold anything. Right. Reality says that sometimes...
Whatever comment that you need to make needs to wait because the kids are there some other people are there or something happens, right? But if that happens, which we all know that it does take some time once a week or whatever If it's if it's date night, then you guys just have like, okay, let's do our withholds Two positives one negative and then before the date nights over we'll hit the negative But we're gonna give it that 30 minute time and you know when if Tori brings up something That's negative that I've said or done, or she's told me about, but I keep messing up or whatever.
Um, during that 30 minute period where I'm not allowed to, I'm actually, you know, I'm supposed to say thank you, but then I'm not allowed to, to discuss it. Uh, what happens is I begin to gain objectivity first because your heart rate will probably elevate a little bit. Your heart rate will go down and it's the soft onset to conflict.
It means, yeah, we're going to have to discuss it, but that puts me in a position where I'm able to think more objectively. Right. And it puts her in a position to where she knows that I'm not going to overreact. Yeah, exactly. I mean how many couples have that as an issue? Where one couple, one, one spouse doesn't bring up what the other one needs to hear because they're afraid of a blow up.
Right. You know, and so this is one of those things that can definitely help with that. And because it's planned and it, and it, Like I said, like this is like a system that you're, you're, you're putting yourself into, right? It, it's very disarming because it's not catching you off guard. Like, you know, sometimes I think we are so defensive because we're just caught off guard and we're having a hard day or, you know, like what you said about the wound.
We have this open wound and you just brushed against it when you brought this up to me, but when you're in a safe place and you're kind of working within this system. It's just, it's disarming and it's very helpful. You know, it is interesting, once you said the open wound, I couldn't stop thinking about massive head wound Harry on Saturday Night Live.
Google it and thank me later. Massive head wound Harry. Anyway, again, another one of those random thoughts. So Tori will have, she's podcast.
Right or wrong? No, you're good. You're good. You're okay to talk about, uh, head wound Harry. That's great. So, anyway, that's it. Yep. That's it. That's what we got. So, if you want to, um, let me just give you the two things, um, and then, are you going to do a, a recipe? Yeah. go ahead. Okay. Um, how to stop conflict before it starts.
Your two ways. Take thoughts captive. Second, give emotions a voice. And giving them a voice will involve this exercise on releasing the positive and negative withholds. It's really, really strong stuff. It is strong. Um, okay, so recipe that I'm working on this week is a healthy French toast casserole. Um, so this originated, how many years ago did we go to Asheville to that bed?
Um, it was our 10 year anniversary. Yeah. So that was 13 years ago, 13 years ago, Jason and I went to Asheville to a bed and breakfast and had the best French toast casserole we've ever had and they gave us the recipe on the way out. Yes, but it is I mean it is always sugary as it gets for you. It's corn syrup is one of the I know like it's bad We don't even have corn.
So we did 13 or yeah 13 years ago when I made this And, um, anyways, it made us, it kind of makes you feel like lethargic, like absolute dump. So, Um, we are at, like Jason mentioned, we're having an, um, a marriage intensive this weekend and you know me with my sourdough infatuation, looking for new recipes.
And so I was thinking I could totally make, cause it's, you make it the night before, which I love to make, um, casseroles the night before when we're having out of town guests. It just. House smells amazing. Yeah. House smells amazing. It's just the prep work is done. It's just easy. And so anyways, I'm working on it, guys.
I'm working on a healthy recipe. I'll let you guys know, um, well, we'll, we'll know tomorrow, babe, if it, well, actually, if it's any good, yeah, if it's any good, um, not using the corn syrup was a little tricky because that gives it like that caramelly, um, consistency on the bottom. So we'll have to see if I can figure this out.
And if it turns out well, I'm going to share it with you guys. If it doesn't, I'm going to keep trying until I nail it. It's Jason's fault. Okay. Hey, thanks for hanging out with us. Try this exercise. Tori and I did it today. You guys are really going to like it and it will help stop conflict before it starts.
And uh, if you do end up, end up in conflict, it gives you a soft startup. Yes. It's very helpful. And it does, babe? I noticed it helps you to be more present because, you know, us complimenting each other on the things that we appreciate, that takes presence. That takes being in the moment. And um, so I noticed after you and I.
Kind of did this today. I Started noticing more which just forced me to be more present in the moment because I'm like, oh, yeah I I'm trying to take it in and so that I can be communicative Communicative communicative that's my job as a husband just to make sure that she pronounces them, right? Yes I don't always get my words right, but you know, anyways, it, it definitely helps you to be more present.
So, um, that was really helpful as well. Anyways, you were thinking nice things of me. I'm thinking nice things. Oh, I love you for that. Okay. I'm going to go eat a venison stick. All right. Fun hanging out with you guys. We'll see you next week. See you guys.