As I have thought about our separation and reconciliation, and as I have pondered how to help others, I have realized if there are three core attitudes combined with three core skills major headway can be made on three core issues in most marriages.
Like Paul, I say this not as one who has obtained it all, but as one who is still pressing on to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.
The three attitudes:
1. A rock-solid commitment to each other.
2. Thinking as a “team of two”.
3. Having a Philippians 2 attitude of looking out not only for your own interests but the interests of the other and serving each other.
The three skills:
1. Effective communication techniques, especially with some form of active listening.
2. Dealing with conflict and anger.
3. Negotiating to win/win solutions. (PAIRS has been a good “toolbox” for us with practical ways to negotiate, but there are many other resources available to help couples.)
Once you have at least some handle on the three attitudes and the three skills you can knock some big holes in the three big issues:
1. Differing spiritual beliefs (even if you are both Christians). Our spiritual beliefs drive our attitudes about everything else.
2. Differing attitudes on money (Jesus pointed out that how we use our money is a good indicator of our spiritual life).
3. Sexual differences. Sex is the most private part of us as a couple. This area can be very fulfilling when the attitudes are right and a couple has good skills.