Receiving the truth in love is one of the most important skills you can learn to turn your conflicts around.
One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from, “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.
Lt. Kaffee (Cruise) is questioning Col. Jessep (Nicholson) in court trying to get him to admit ordering a “Code Red.” After a long and increasingly heated Q and A, Lt Kaffee demands the truth from Col. Jessep to which he famously and angrily responds, “You can’t handle the truth!”
I get “goose bumps” every time!
What about you? Can you handle the truth? What if it’s hard to hear? What if the truth is sandwiched between lies and exaggerations about you?
Most people struggle with hearing the truth related to their faults. Especially when the truth comes from an angry spouse, in the midst of an argument, and with a sprinkle of exaggeration!
Speaking the truth in love is important in marriage, but we also need to understand what it looks like to receive the truth in love. I believe this is one of the most important skills we can learn to turn our conflicts in marriage around.
How To Receive The Truth In Love
When couples are trying to talk through a conflict or confronting each other on a particular issue, I’ve learned that 2 things are almost always present in the conversation: truth and error.
Very rarely do I hear complete truth or complete error. Sometimes the error comes out in the form of a simple exaggeration. But other times, the error, or lie, is almost a complete false accusation.
When we’re confronted with some truth and some error, our tendency is to try and clear up the error part first. Then 9 times out of 10, clearing up the error will become the subject of the argument. After 15 minutes of trying to clear up every “error,” no truth is discussed and you’ve forgotten what the original argument was even about!
Receiving The Truth In Love Looks Like Pursuing The Truth First
Although not always, there is generally at least a degree of truth (however exaggerated) to what is being said about you in an argument. But the path to fighting fair is to readily discern and accept responsibility for the truth. Clarifying error can come later, and usually gets cleared up in response to a genuine admission of the truth.
Your primary task in conflict is not to clarify or defend what your spouse says about you. Your primary task is to take responsibility for 100% of whatever portion is true about you–even if only 1% of it is truth!
Think about it this way: What percent will God hold you accountable for the 99% that is false? Hint – it’s 0%. And what percent will God hold you accountable for the 1% that is true? You guessed it – 100%. God will hold you 0% responsible for the 99% that is error, but hold you 100% responsible for the 1% that is true.
Receiving the truth in love looks like first hearing, understanding, accepting, and confessing the truth that was spoken…even if it’s only 1%.
You could sum this up as the 1% rule (thanks to Karl Elkins for this helpful truth)!
The next time you are in an argument with your spouse make sure your ears and heart are looking for any hard truth they (and God) might be trying to reveal to you…even if its sandwiched between some error.
Then, seek to understand the truth, accept it, and confess it to God and your spouse.
How might the 1% rule turn your next conflict around?
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.