Creating a “No Losers” Mindset in Your Marriage

One of the biggest causes of marital breakdowns … and in business relationships … is the inability to resolve conflict effectively; and every married couple runs into conflict because … Conflict is inevitable … two people who are in love … want each other to think and feel the same way about things … how to deal with money … how to deal with children … free time … and more!

The problem is … too many of us have come to believe that conflict is a bad thing … and that we should avoid it at all costs … but that’s not true … nor is it healthy for your marriage …

The truth is … conflict is a sign of connectedness … it says we have a vital relationship here … Remember – we rarely have conflicts with people we do not know or like.

But the most important thing we need to know about conflict is that it does not have to be negative!  When we learn how to successfully resolve conflicts with our spouse … we discover new things about him or her that we didn’t know before (which is why we’re having the problem) … and that helps to deepen our intimacy.

To make conflict a productive force in our marriage we have to establish a “No Losers Policy.” 

If you are “one,” a house divided against itself can’t stand.  If you are a “team” … it is impossible for one member of a team to win while another member of that same team loses!  You either both win … or you both lose … but there should never be an “I win – You lose” mentality allowed your marriage!

You both “win” when you both feel good about and agree together on the solution to your problem.  Maybe one of you came up with the solution … that’s OK … as long as both of you willingly agree that it is the best solution … you have a win-win scenario!  What will break down any marriage is the “my way or the highway” mentality!

Practicing Convene Principles at Home

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned from my involvement with Convene is the importance of spending time working on my “business” and not just investing time in the “business”. I need to pull my shoulder off of the grindstone to take a look at how and why I am doing what I am doing. That is such a simple idea … yet when I apply it … it transforms what I am grinding away at … and how I am spending my time. Being in the marriage and family building “business”, I’m amazed at how many of the principles we learn at our Convene Forum Days have direct application into our marriages. I have been trained as a theologian and counselor not a business leader. So, the whole concept of Managing by Key Indicators was new to me; and I struggled a while to articulate what needs to be done in order for me to be successful in what I do.

We’ve all learned that “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Going back to my notes these quotes jumped out to me:

“Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds. For riches are not forever; nor does a crown endure to all generations.” Prov. 27:23-24, NASB

Companies that fail - work hard - but on the wrong things! To help your business stay focused on the right things, create a set of simple Key Indicators, which allow you to quickly assess the health and direction of the organization.

Look at how these sound if we just change a few key words:

“Know well the condition of your spouse, and pay attention to your family. For riches are not forever; nor does a crown endure to all generations.” Prov. 27:23-24, NASB

Couples that fail - work hard - but on the wrong things! To help your marriage stay focused on the right things, create a set of simple Key Indicators, which allow you to quickly assess the health and direction of the relationship.

Have you ever thought about what the “Key indicators” might be for your marriage and family life? Here’s a list Karen and I came up with to help us see how well we’re doing:

  • We’re communicating on a rapport (emotional) versus report (fact) level?
  • We’re making regular spiritual connections?
  • We’re making regular physical connections?
  • We resolve our conflicts / issues quickly?
  • We’re an effective parenting team?
  • We enjoy “alone time” together?
  • We are serving the Lord together?


Why don’t you schedule a family business meeting with your spouse and agree on a set of KPI’s for your marriage this week?

Face-to-Face and No Excuses

Someone on my team had blown it. He had taken too long to complete some significant tasks, which put one of our clients in an awkward position. Since his attempts to apologize to the client seemed to fall on deaf ears, I realized I needed to step in to repair the damage. So I dialed our client’s number to apologize for our failure to serve him well.

Before the phone rang twice, however, I hung up.

Even though the damage seemed to be minor to me, it dawned on me that our client could easily see this as a major problem. Therefore, it called for a face-to-face conversation.

Therefore I called him to ask if I could take him to lunch to apologize personally for what had happened. His guarded response confirmed that this was no small matter to him. So I booked the flight.

When I walked into the restaurant the next day, I saw him sitting with another man who turned out to be his attorney. Thinking I might try to minimize the damage, he brought “the troops” to back his case.

My gut tightened up a bit, so I prayed that God would give me grace not to become defensive or competitive (two of my most natural reactions in a situation like this).

We exchanged pleasantries as we scanned the menu and placed our orders. Then after a moment of awkward silence, I moved into a “Seven-A Confession.”

I acknowledged our failure to serve him in a timely manner. Although I was tempted to point out how he had caused several major delays himself, God helped me to avoid making any excuses whatsoever.

Instead, I admitted our mistakes in detail and acknowledged how they had probably impacted the client, both emotionally and substantively. Finally, I offered a solution to get us back on track … plus a commitment to waive our entire fee if he was not completely satisfied with the outcome of the process.

He was stunned. His attorney showed the same surprise.

Once he collected his thoughts, he told me he had expected me to make excuses and downplay the seriousness of the delays. So they had actually spent an hour at their office that morning preparing a counterattack. My unqualified confession caught them totally off guard.

The mood at the table changed dramatically. The tension evaporated, bodies relaxed, smiles become more natural, and we all switched off “attorney mode.”

In response to my no-excuses apology, the client actually started making excuses for me (a perfect example of “The Golden Result”). He even pointed out that they had failed to give timely responses on two critical exchanges.

As tempting as it was to minimize our failure by agreeing with him, I said, “I appreciate that. But it’s actually beside the point. Our organization is committed to serving you with excellence regardless of others’ actions. We failed to do that, and I’m here to do whatever it takes to make things right with you.”

After a short, congenial tug-of-war as to who was most responsible for the delay, we both laughed out of pure relief. We were not going to be adversaries. We could relax and work together to find a solution that moved us in the direction we all wanted to go.

Face-to-face. No excuses.

It’s often the fastest way to turn a conflict into an opportunity to build a closer relationship.


Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360 and the author of numerous books on biblical conflict resolution, including The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.

The Teapot Technique of Management

Have you ever used an old-fashioned teapot to make tea? You put water in the pot, turn on the stove, and put the pot on the burner. When the water comes to a boil, the pot “whistles” as the steam comes out through a narrow opening in the spout. (Think back to the childhood song, “I’m a Little Teapot.”) While this is a good way to make tea, it’s a terrible way to manage people. What do I mean? Far too often when we notice a performance issue, we don’t address it immediately. For example, a staff member was assigned to create a presentation, and it has several mistakes in it. This annoys you and causes some inconvenience (time spent correcting the mistakes), but you decide that it’s not worth the time or the drama to talk to the staff member. Instead, you just hope that the problem will magically correct itself. And in that moment, you put your “teapot” on the burner.

Over the coming months, there are several similar incidents – a poorly written email is sent to a large audience, some important details are overlooked for a major event, the person isn’t prepared for staff meetings. And each time, you decide to “wait until next time” before having the performance conversation. The temperature in the teapot continues to climb.

Until the day when the staff member makes one more mistake, and you reach the boiling point. Except your “boil” doesn’t come out as a nice “whistle” from the teapot – it erupts in a way that seems completely out of proportion for the specific incident. And just like mis-pouring the hot water from the teapot, one or more people will probably get scalded.

What’s the alternative? Obviously, don’t wait for things to reach the boiling point, but what does that mean in practice?

  • Some issues are truly minor, and don’t need to be addressed. In those cases, you need to let them go rather than putting them in a mental file of grievances against a staff member.
  • When something truly is a problem, address it as soon as possible. Then you can deal with the specific concern in a meaningful way, long before the boiling point is reached. This practice of “real time coaching” is lacking in most organizations.
  • Be aware when your internal temperature is rising. If you feel that happening, take the time to assess why you’re upset and find ways to release the “steam” that you’re feeling.
  • Learn how to have these conversations. It is possible to redirect performance in ways that are non-threatening and productive.

So be honest, at least with yourself: Is the teapot technique part of your management style? If so, how is that working for you?