Very often, we can avoid the hurt feelings generated by arguments if we pause long enough to examine motives. Here are key questions that unlock a stronger union with our beloved:
What is my motive for what I just said and what I want to say? Is it self-centered or does it truly come from a heart that cares about my beloved? If it’s self-centered, what unmet need is behind it?
What is my beloved’s motive in his or her response to what I said? Is it self-protective or does it come from a heart that cares about me? If it’s self-protective, what unmet need is behind that? Can I address that need now?
Is fear behind any of this? If so, the fear of what?
Is one of us (or both) controlled by an underlying fear of not being loved enough? And underneath that, is there a belief of not being lovable?
Notice how this line of questioning works. We drill down to the root motives, the inner need that is subconsciously driving the conversation (or argument). Be addressing what’s deep down inside, and by doing it with love and compassion and hope, instead of arguing about the surface topic, our perception changes. We see the topic at hand in a different light. We usually discover that we’re really on the same team, able to reach a good conclusion together.
Even if we only reach the first level of examining motives, we can avoid heartaches and misunderstandings. Arguments almost always contain the assumption that our beloved actually wants to do us harm (neglect our needs, make us lose the debate, etc.). In a healthy marriage where both spouses are followers of Christ, this assumption should be assumed as untrue. And the truth is found in sharing our true motives.
- Thinking of the last disagreement I had with my sweetheart, what was my motive as I tried to make my point?
- What fears might have caused my sweetheart to react to me negatively?
Strengthen your relationship:
Unpack the baggage of a recent disagreement by discussing motives rather than restarting the argument. What role did love play in it? Describe that love. Then pray together, asking the Holy Spirit to increase your sensitivity to and understanding of each other’s motives in every situation every day.
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© 2018 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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