James 1:19, 20 says: So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
But the phrase ‘slow to speak’ does not mean ‘do not speak’. Those of us who tend to shy away from conflict (Avoidants) may actually increase the potential for conflict by not speaking up when appropriate.
At times early in our marriage both Nan and I did not want to risk a confrontation by bringing up unpleasant subjects and so we just kept quiet. Although it is appropriate to choose our battles well, sometimes avoiding is really just postponing the confrontation until it has escalated into a much bigger problem.
Song of Solomon 2:15: Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.
What is implied here is that relationships are tender, and dealing with problems while they are still small is preferable to waiting until they ‘grow up into bigger foxes’.
If you are a ‘stuffer’, you run the risk of collecting resentments, watching them grow until you reach your limit. Then you either become a ‘volcano’, spewing toxic material or a ‘runner’, detaching from the relationship, perhaps permanently.
Speaking the truth in love is a delicate dance. We can either dance around the truth (still avoiding) or forget the love part, stepping on our partner’s tender feet (hostile).
I recommend the ‘sandwich technique’: Affirmation – Complaint – Affirmation
- Affirmation (I know you didn’t intend to)
- Complaint and request (but I felt hurt when you…. and what I’d like is….)
- Affirmation (Thanks for listening, I know it isn’t easy to hear this…..)
Statistics shows that two “avoidants” paired up in a marriage are the most likely to divorce. They slowly drift farther and farther apart by not dealing with hurts, and then separate.
Prov. 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Let’s try to be a good friend.