The goal of this process is to help you build the habits and trust necessary to safely and consistently resolve conflict in your marriage. Please review this together, then sign and date it. You are of course free to amend this by mutual consent at any time, but I encourage you to try it exactly as written at least once, to get the ball rolling.
I. Time Outs
At any time during a spontaneous conflict, if either person feels that the conversation is no longer constructive, they can ask for (and must be given) a Time Out. This postpones any further discussion of the issue until the next Discussion Time, defined as 9 PM (or within an hour of the kids going to bed). For example, an afternoon conflict will be resumed that night, but a conflict erupting at 11 PM Sunday will be suspended until 9 PM Monday.
II. Discussion Time
- Each of you share, without accusation or interruption:
- What you believe happened
- How you felt about it
- What you personally would like to apologize for
- Repeat back what was said until you both feel heard
- Work through the initial conflict, identifying underlying issues to be worked on later
- Agree on actions for each of you take
- Pray, confess your sins to God and each other, ask and grant forgiveness
- If not resolved in 3 hours, move to phase III or IV.
III. Outside Counsel
In case of an unresolved or recurring conflict, either person can reschedule Discussion Time by up to one week to first hear from Outside Counsel. By then, both parties must discuss the issue with a trusted friend or counselor, and share their thoughts as part of Step 2 (above).
IV. Inside Counsel
If you disagree about how to interpret and apply the letter or spirit of this document, I am available to help arbitrate. I am also wiling to attend and mediate a scheduled Discussion Time, though ideally with at least 2 hours advance notice.