He Said, She Said (Ed Welch Seminar)

I fully intended to complete my review of Fit To Burst.  I had it mostly written and then we had a baby on Dec. 11 :). I will finish that post but for now here is a little filler to break the blog silence. My husband’s parents took the older girls for a long weekend so we could attend a marriage seminar titled “He Said, She Said: Communication that Builds Intimacy in Marriageby Ed Welch. Except for Christmas this was the first time we had been out of the house for something other than grocery runs.  Baby girl did great and slept through the whole thing.  I have always loved Ed Welch’s books and perspective on counseling and was pretty excited to hear him speak in person.  He and his wife have struggled through many years of conflict (his wife said that during their 2nd year of marriage she had a very strong dislike of Ed).  But yet their marriage survived. This is the kind of person you want to hear talk about communication in relationships!

Ed’s speaking style is a bit different.  There were no bulleted points to write down.  It was more like a running conversation filled with stories for examples.  The more I thought about what he said the more things stood out to me.  Here are a few quotes I loved:

“Having a common destination in mind for your marriage is key”E. Welch

His point here was to ask are you heading towards a common goal or are you pulling apart?  He encouraged folks to write down a mission statement for their marriage.  The entire first session was on ways to define what you want your marital relationship to be like and how to achieve that goal through communication.  Luke and I hadn’t ever really thought about it like that but it was fun to discuss this together.

“Stem grumbling and complaining about each other. Have a zero tolerance for anger” E.Welch

If you ask Luke and I when our last fight was we’ll probably tell you we’ve never had one (“fight” being defined as one or both people angry at the other person). I think a huge part of this is because we did come into marriage with a commitment to not get angry at each other. Our marriage isn’t perfect but by God’s grace this is one area where we do not struggle.   For sure, we do have things we disagree on and have moments where we have to work through opposing desires.  But we don’t fight and yell at each other about them.    This perspective begs the question: if you rule out anger towards each other what is left? What, then, is the role of conflict?  Conflict is the clashing of two people’s desires.  It is inevitable in a relationship but I consider this to be a good thing because it reveals what we are hiding inside (James 4).  It causes me to bring my desires out into the open and hold them up for evaluation against God’s word.  Appreciating and understanding this role of conflict can diffuse anger in the moment.  It makes me eager to talk through things to find the middle ground.  It causes me to think about how I can approach conflict in a way that preserves our friendship and chose my words and tone accordingly.

“Bring it all to the relationship. There should be openness and no fear of sharing. No feelings of walking around on eggshells for fear of how the other person will react…There is something becoming about fragile, finite people speaking of their weakness. Because that’s what we are: fragile, finite, people…words are how God works among us.” E.Welch

I loved this point because this has not always been my first instinct; my nature is probably to be more of an introvert in my friendships; observing and listening but not really offering up a lot of info about myself.  At some point many years ago God convicted me that this was just pride.  I didn’t feel the need to discuss thoughts and view points with others because I had a low view of the necessity of accountability/support and a high view of my ability to evaluate my own heart.  Once I made the choice to be more open with a few close friends I began to appreciate the idea of having folks who know me well.  I began to value the accountability and support/encouragement from those who see me better than I see myself.  Today this is one of the things Luke and I talk of appreciating most about marriage: the aspect of sharing the ins and outs of daily life together. We are constantly using each other as a sounding board for thoughts, ideas, and convictions. We love talking about everything together – trials, dream vacations, current events, observations where spiritual growth is needed, things we’re excited about or fearful of.   I think a key part of developing this openness (if it’s a struggle for you like it was for me) is that you have to make it a point to volunteer the information, not wait to be asked.  On the flip side, Ed Welch made the point that also, at times, developing openness involves listening to trivial things you have no interest in.

I could go on. It really was a fantastic seminar.

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