The tension in the room was so thick we could hardly breathe. Hand grenades of words had been launched, and these dear friends came to us in search of a cease fire. We sat around the table, trying to navigate the hidden land mines, leftovers from their previous marriages. They had been married less than a year–another chance at love for both of them.
These two wounded love warriors were scared, though neither could say that. Could this be the end of another relationship?
So they protected, lobbing attacks from their defensive positions. The attacks included us sometimes, because when you feel exposed and vulnerable, everyone around becomes collateral damage. We didn't back down from holding each of them accountable for their part.
We’re not skilled negotiators, but we love this couple. We wanted them to know that they could, with God's help, get through this. It didn't have to be the end. They needed first aid, damage control and a way to peacefully coexist. They needed to be reminded that God was present, and He would be a source of strength when they felt vulnerable and weak.
Most of all, they needed to know that we loved both of them, and were not choosing sides. Our home was Switzerland that night.
Who knew love could be a battlefield?
How can the one you love also become the enemy?
Three ways to create a safe zone
If you want a healthy marriage, it is vital to have at least one friend, preferably a couple, that mutually commit to both of you. These are people that will stand with you, and remind you of truth when you can't see it. They don’t disappear when the going gets tough.
It can be scary to be vulnerable with another couple. Heck, it's hard enough to be vulnerable with your spouse, but two more people? In our 37 years of marriage, we have had just a handful of friends that could step into this role. It takes intentional effort to develop friendships that can serve as a neutral zone when conflict arises.
It also requires a little discernment. Some couples that claim to be friends can be more divisive than helpful. They think they are caring when they bring concerns about one spouse to the other spouse–raising concerns without first clarifying. These people are “pot stirrers” more than peace makers. Be careful what you share with these friends.
Discernment regarding WHAT you share is also wise. There may be times when the issues require a neutral person, skilled in untangling complicated conflicts. Far better to pay a competent marriage counselor than a divorce attorney.
Family–a select few
Some family members can be trusted advisors, but you need to consider what issues can be shared without changing the relationship in the future. Family is there forever. If sharing sensitive information will make it awkward at future family gatherings, then best to NOT share. Go to a professional instead–a counselor, pastor, mentor–not family.
Our friendship with this couple has deepened over the years as we have learned that they are trusted peace makers. This is a friendship that wants the best for each marriage, more than either individual. Unlike countries that go to battle, conflict in marriage has the potential to deepen intimacy when issues can be untangled without blowing up the relationship. Having a safe place to work through the conflict will ensure that a mutual resolution can be created.
For a related post click here.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan
Matthew 5:9 NLT
 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
Question: Do you have someone that you trust when conflict overwhelms your marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.