How to fight fair

There are a handful of resources that have been particularly helpful to Jessica and me during the course of our marriage. One of those resources is the following guidelines for resolving conflict.

Every now and then, when things get a little heated between us, we have what we call a “stool talk.” We each sit down on a stool facing each other. Then we read aloud through the guidelines below before we start talking about the issue at hand. It really helps us to work through the issue in a fair and respectful way. At first, I used to break each and every one of the guidelines. Now I’m doing a bit better. I know Jessica appreciates it!

How to Fight Fair and Help Your Relationship Even in Conflict

No matter what we call it—conflict, fighting, arguing, quarreling or disagreeing—most families need more honest resolution of conflict and less suppression of feelings. This can be accomplished in a fair and positive way by following these nine guidelines.

1. Be Respectful. Don’t call names, use sarcasm or belittle your mate. Never put each other down—know that to hurt one’s partner is to hurt oneself. If you relapse into harsh words then immediately apologize.

2. Keep the problem the problem. Do not personalize it. Attack the problem not the person. Maintain ownership of your part of the disagreement. Use “I” or “we” statements instead of “you” statements.

3. Stay on one subject. If the fight is about a mother-in-law, then stay on that subject until there is some kind of resolution. Don’t bring in other problems like money, drinking, etc. Handle one problem at a time.

4. Use time-outs as needed. If tempers are flaring and you find yourself losing control put the argument on “hold” or call a “time-out” and agree to meet back at a specific time when things have calmed down a little. It may help to do some physical activity like walking around the block or taking a shower to calm tempers.

5. Listen for understanding. Make a real effort to try and understand each other. Remember all of us want to be listened to. We want and need to feel that what we have to say is important and that our thoughts and opinions are of value.

6. Don’t mind read your partner by assuming that you know what they are thinking or feeling. Always ask your partner what they think and feel because feelings and thoughts change over time.

7. Try to see things from your partner’s point of view as if you were walking in their shoes with their feelings and background. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. When you validate your partner’s feelings by acknowledging his/her viewpoint you open the door for the same in return and then both of you will be more willing to solve the problems together.

8. Seek to solve the problem. Work as a team. Don’t bring in others (family, friends, etc.) to gang up on your partner. Use this phrase during an argument: “What can we do together to solve this problem? I am willing to do the following…” Then state what you are willing to do and then do it.

9. Forgive and accept each other. Truth can be spoken in love, when partners are bound together in forgiveness. We all need and want forgiveness. Remember the disagreement belongs to both of you.

Work on your own self-esteem. The better you feel the more love you can give and receive.

Words do hurt. They can be the life or death of a relationship. Learn to replace hurtful words with words that build and strengthen the relationship. Tell each other how much you care. Praise and compliment your mate often.

Give each other a sense of personal worth by speaking and acting affectionately.

Note: Unresolved conflicts may shatter a marriage. Please don’t hesitate to seek outside help from people who can be objective. These people may be therapist, pastors or counselors.


Adapted from: Martin, Steven C. & Catherine A. Martin. 1997. Talk to me: How to create positive, loving communication. Positive Publishing. (ISBN: 0-9659328-0-X)


How many people go to bed hungry?

Recently a friend of mine asked me the question, “How many people go to bed hungry?” The World Food Programme has produced a “Hunger Map” that answers this question in broad brush strokes:

You can download a copy of the map at the following URL (in English, French or Spanish):

While hunger is found in many parts of the world, what becomes clear from the map is that Central Africa is the area in which it is most prevalent. In at least eight countries of that region, over 35% of the population is undernourished. One country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti, also is in this category.

WIK-lif or WAHY-klif?

One question that often comes up when I talk with people about Wycliffe Bible Translators is, “How do you say the word Wycliffe?” A good number of people I talk with say WAHY-klif, while others say WIK-lif. My typical response is, “I speak both dialects!”

The English dictionaries have weighed in on the question. The Random House dictionary, the American Heritage dictionary, and the Webster’s dictionary all favor the latter pronunciation, i.e. WIK-lif.

You can hear a pronunciation of the name at the following URLs:

Oh, yes, John Wycliffe (c. 1328-1384) was an English religious reformer and theologian who is often credited with being the first to translate the Bible into English.

David Edward Gardner 1955-2008

Jessica’s father David passed away on Wednesday, October 22 in Tamarac, Florida. We were able to fly down to Fort Lauderdale the day before, and Jessica was by his side when he took his last breath.

Over the weekend, we drove with Jessica’s family up to the funeral and burial in Dayton, Tennessee. At the funeral Jessica and I sang the song No More Tears, and Jessica read a letter that she had written to her Dad a couple of months ago. From David’s grave site, one can see several ridges where he often went hunting with his brother Tom.

On Sunday evening as we were just starting to drive back to Fort Lauderdale, we received word that Jessica’s sister Jewel had gone into labor in South Carolina. As providence would have it, we were able to rearrange our trip and arrive at the hospital a couple of hours before Jessica’s niece, Kathryn Marie Hanson, was born. What a joy it was to be there and see this new life!

On Thursday, a memorial service was held for David at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Jessica read her letter again, and we shared our song once more, accompanied by Jessica’s uncle Bill on violin. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Obituraries for David have been published online in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Florida Sun-Sentinal. Note that in the Sun-Sentinel obituary, “Mission Air International” should read “Miami Air International“.

Photo by Jessica on front page of Manila Times!

That’s right! A photograph that Jessica took of anthropologist Thomas Headland appeared on the front page of the September 2, 2007 issue of the Manila Times. This was a special issue that focused on the endangered languages of the Philippines. Jessica’s photograph accompanied an article by Fred S. Cabuang entitled, Negrito (Agta) languages’ descent into extinction, which itself was based on Headland’s article Thirty endangered languages in the Philippines.”