Fix the Problem, Not the Blame
By Rick Warren
“Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8 NIV).
You only have a certain amount of emotional energy. In a conversation where you’re trying to resolve conflict, you can either use that energy to fix the blame or you can use that energy to fix the problem. You don’t have enough energy to do both. So you’ve got to ask yourself what’s more important, to blame the other person or to resolve the conflict.
Fix the problem, not the blame.
Every married couple needs some ground rules for fighting fair and words you’re just not going to use. There are some things you should never, ever say in a marriage — they’re “weapons of mass destruction”.
During the Cold War, when the Soviet Union and the United States were opposed to each other, the U.S. had thousands of intercontinental missiles aimed at the Soviets. We could destroy the entire Union. At the same time, Soviet Russia had thousands of intercontinental missiles aimed at us, too. They could destroy the United Sates. Even when we were at the worst point in the Cold War and there was enormous tension, both sides still had enough sanity to say, some weapons we just aren’t going to use because they’re “MAD” — mutually assured destruction. If you use yours, we’re going to use ours, and we’re going to destroy each other. So even when we were on opposite sides of an issue, we could at least agree not to use those weapons.
In the same way, you should never resort to relational “weapons of mass destruction” your marriage, such as threatening divorce or threatening to walk out or bringing up somebody’s parents. You have to agree that no matter how upset you are with each other, those words are off limits, because they destroy the relationship by tearing down trust.
The Bible is very specific about what’s out of bounds. Colossians 3:8 says, “Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (NIV). Those are like weapons of mass destruction.
The reason we fix the problem and not the blame is because blaming is a form of judging, and only God has the right to judge. You’re not the judge. You can’t figure out anybody else’s motivation. You don’t know your own motivation most of the time! Only God knows. Let him be the judge, so you can focus on fixing the problem.
Talk It Over
- What might be “weapons of mass destruction” being used in your relationship?
- How can you shift from fixing blame on the other person to fixing the problem instead?
- Why is it important to set boundaries for “fighting fair” in a relationship?
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This devotional © 2016 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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