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Ep. 274 Common Sense Tips for Solving Marriage Disputes

Ep. 274 Common Sense Tips for Solving Marriage Disputes

Shows Main Idea – Biff and Mable are in conflict again. Biff wants to buy Mable a car, and Mable does not want a car. One of the most typical disputes between couples is when one partner wants to do something, and the other does not. In this episode, Rick uses a common-life example of buying a car to clarify how to work through decision-making.

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Show Notes

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Decision-Making Basics

One – When In Doubt: Because Mable does not want the car, Biff doubts whether it’s the right thing to do. Paul gave excellent advice on what to do when in doubt about any matter—do not move forward or “when in doubt, don’t.”

“But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

Of course, it could be that Biff is not in doubt; he’s confident that they should buy the car. Then you have another matter when one person is firm and “right in their eyes,” and their partner is the one who doubts. The assured spouse must consider his spouse’s lack of assurance before confidently moving forward with what he wants to do.

I’m not saying Biff should consent to his unsure partner, but there should be more time given to deliberation, more due diligence, and possible outside input to settle the conflict. The goal is for both partners to move forward in faith. I’m not suggesting they will equally agree on the path ahead, but they are okay with the decision and with each other.

Assessment Questions

  • Does one spouse want to buy the car and the other does not?
  • Does the spouse who wants the car carefully consider and listen to the opposing spouse’s opinion?
  • Are they able to agree to move forward, though their perspectives are different?
  • Are they okay with the decision and with each other after they move forward?
  • Would it be wiser to set aside the decision for a period and come back later to discuss? What is the urgency, or why do you need to do it now?

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Seven More Considerations

Two – Phone a Friend: It would be appropriate to ask a third person, like a pastor. Depending on the maturity of the family members, you could ask them. If there has been historical divisiveness in the family to where “taking sides” could divide further, I do not recommend family input. It could “hurt feelings” more by stirring up past issues and relational conflict. Hence, an impartial pastor could be more reasonable.

Three – Presenting Reason: One of Biff’s reasons for the car purchase is to assure the safety of Mable. I’m not sure what he means by being safe. It reminds me of the person who asks about putting a lightning rod on his house to protect his family and wants to know what size of rod he could purchase. The answer is, “Tell me the strength of the lightning that will hit your home, and I will tell you the size of the rod you need.” Of course, that is an unanswerable question.

Is the safety for collisions, breakdowns, or something else? Why wouldn’t their current vehicle accommodate those concerns? If the newer or current car does break down, are you in a generally unsafe area? Does Mable carry a gun? The “safety issues” is vague on its face, but there could be an argument made.

The big idea is that you explore all the reasons given for the purchase to make sure those concerns are legitimate. Sometimes it’s more information or understanding that could break the gridlock when two parties are on different sides of a decision. What are the pertinent questions to what you want to do? Of course, if either party is unwilling to explore the concerns and questions, there is a deeper marriage problem.

Read or Listen: A Simple Plan to Steward Your Father’s Money

A Simple Plan to Steward Your Father’s Money

Four – Heart Attitude: What is the state of Biff’s heart currently? Describe his attitude as he makes a case for purchasing the vehicle. Do similarly for Mable. Is she reasonable, listening, and willing to understand Biff’s position? Is she open to buy a car? Is Biff open to not buying a car? Two friends working through a matter is much different than two folks who do not have affection for each other and are not for each other.

Five – Heat Revelations: One of the more vital things I would look at is comparing the purchase problem with the effect on the partners. For example, the problem is the “heat that reveals” something, which you will see in the impact on each of them. If you want to gauge a person’s heart or their marriage, all you need is to bring some heat. In this case, we’re talking about a vehicle as the heat.

  • What is the vehicle (heat) revealing about the individual and the couple?
  • How do Biff and Mable need to change to make their relationship better, regardless of the car decision?

I would want to use the potential car purchase to highlight the greater need—if there is one, which is their relationship. Perhaps they are getting along great, and there is nothing there. If there is something that needs addressing, you have more significant issues than a decision to buy a car.

Six – My Reputation: Is there a “reputation issue” where Biff wants a newer, better car? I’m speaking of the fear of man factor. Are there other reasons besides the safety concern? Is this like the teen who does not want to drive the family van?

Seven – Financial Consideration: Of course, there is debt, savings, and future retirement matters. It would be best if you explored their financial stewardship.

  • How does the purchase of a depreciable item fit short- and long-term financial strategies and goals for the couple?
  • What are their financial strategies, and how are they reducing debt?
  • What is the couple’s view on car payments or purchasing depreciable items?
  • Are they aggressively saving money?

The purchase of an expensive item deserves careful scrutiny of their income, outgo, current savings, and future financial goals.

Eight – Other Options: What about other options?

  • What is the current vehicle’s annual maintenance cost, not including normal wear and tear (or oil changes and tires) that you would have with any new or old car?
  • Would it be less expensive to keep the older car versus purchasing a new one?
  • What if you keep the current car and make car payments to yourself, and after you can pay cash, you purchase a new vehicle?
  • Do you have to make this decision today? Why or why not?

Call to Action

  1. Describe a situation where you and a friend conflicted with a decision. What did you all do? How did it go afterward? What, if anything, would you have done differently?
  2. Describe a situation now where you’re in the middle of a potential conflict decision. What are a few things you could apply from this podcast?
  3. What is a specific thing you can change about how you decide things within a relationship? Describe your plan to change.
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