Winnis Chiang Newsletter
  Personal Note from Winnis - 38th Wedding Anniversary
  Relationship Tips - Is Your Relationship on Auto Pilot?
  Feature Article - Turn Relational Conflicts into Blessings
July 23, 2013
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James and I are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary this month. That's not easy considering the fact that we had only three months of dating.

At Berkeley, James pursued me: Driving me to and from school, taking me to interesting places and out to eat (a lot), calling me, bringing me Chinese magazines and books to read, and most importantly, listening to me. When I shared my feelings, thoughts, and needs, I felt understood and accepted. Getting so much attention, I felt loved.

A month or so after seeing and talking with each other almost every day, James proposed on the phone, saying, "If everything turns out fine, I would like to marry you." I answered without thinking, "But I don't know how to cook!" He assured me that we could eat out every day -- so we got married. I thought we would live happily ever after.

Not having argued during dating, we were shock by each other's strong reactions regarding the right and wrong way of squeezing our toothpaste. Although James quickly solved that problem by buying another toothpaste, there was a dent in our relationship. One small thing led to another, and our marriage was going downhill.

Our situation got worse after our son was born. Both of us were busy. Calm and objective in the office, I became easily irritated and frustrated at home. We had no time as a couple, but when we were together, we frequently ended up arguing about child-rearing. We both wanted the best for our son, but we had different ideas. When James rationalized things, I got mad. When I attacked and blamed, he retreated and withdrew. Our interaction spiraled downward with negative thoughts, actions and words. We could not function as a team. When our marriage and parenting did not work, I felt alone and isolated. I became depressed and secretly contemplated a divorce.

Thank God that my pains led me to Jesus Christ in 1989 and we were given a second chance. Our family has come a long way and we have learned the hard way that a relationship cannot be put on auto pilot and be forgotten. The feature article, Turn Relational Conflicts into Blessings, has suggestions as to how to handle conflicts constructively.

Fast forward to now, James and I love to spend time with each other in ordinary or not so ordinary days. For example, between December 2010 and January 2011, we were on the road for 24 days in Germany, UK and France (yes Paris!) to teach, lead groups and coach couples and individuals in Discipleship Training Conferences. We didn't know we could be so happy and fulfilled together living off of two carry-on suitcases, two backpacks, and one toothpaste.

By the grace of God, you too can develop a strong marriage and family in love!

Love, Joy and Peace to You,
Relationship Tips
While investigations continue, I read one report that the pilot of Asiana Airlines Flight #214 (that crash-landed in SFO) was telling federal investigators that an automatic throttle -- a system akin to a car's cruise control -- had failed to keep the jetliner at the proper speed for landing. But isn't the pilot still responsible for checking the speed and doing something to save lives?

When things go well, we like to take credit for it. When things do not go well, we want to blame it on something or someone else. I used to blame James for my unhappiness. This photo is a reminder of how our interaction affected our child (who was five years old at that time). While adults can smile at the camera on cue, children will show their real feelings.

More often than not, relationships are broken due to these reasons:
  • Unmet Expectations
  • Unrecognized Differences
  • Unresolved Conflicts
  • Unforgiven Offenses
Feeling frustrated about your marriage or parenting? You are not alone. If you find yourself not getting along with or enjoying that special person you love, please take time to pause, evaluate, and reflect on how you have got here. It's never too late to change your direction!
Featured Article
Turn Relational Conflicts into Blessings

Conflict is as natural to the human experience as thunderstorms are to springtime. When left unchecked, conflict can generate heat and discomfort, disrupt interactions and destroy relationships. Between a couple, discord can lead to divorce. Between countries, hostilities can lead to war. But when differences are openly acknowledged and addressed, conflict can be a powerful source of energy and lead to creative solutions that encourage growth, deepen intimacy and strengthen bonds between people.

The world is made up of individuals with different ideas, wants, needs and beliefs, and conflict may occur when our differences meet. Like so many other aspects of human interaction, it's how we deal with controversy that affects our relationships -- with others and ourselves.

Dr. Wei-Jen Huang said, "Facts seldom cause conflicts. It's each person's value system, point of view, perspective, and interpretation about such facts that produce conflicts."

Some relationships appear to be without conflict. This can mean that everyone is in tune with everyone else. But what's more likely is that some people are not being honest and real with others, or that some individuals regularly and routinely acquiesce to others. This is true with a couple, in a family, or in any group. When conflict appears to be totally absent, it is best to take a look under the carpet.

For some, the inability to face conflict comes from old, deeply imbedded fears, such as the fear of being wounded or absorbed by another. Or some may fear that there is no resolution to the disagreement. In avoiding conflict, individuals may lose themselves in a forest of fears where no one says what they truly feel or want or believe.

Without resolution, conflict converts to stress that causes all sorts of ills and disease and may ultimately release itself in explosions of rage, withdrawal, acting out, addictions and general unhappiness.

However, with resolution comes the release of fear and tension, clarity and remarkably creative solutions or ideas. A feeling of closeness may result or, at the very least, a deeper understanding, acceptance and respect for one another.

If you are reluctant to engage in conflict resolution, consider the following:
  • Because people are different, conflict is natural.
  • It's more important to find clarity and unity than to be right.
  • No one is right in God's eyes; outside of Christ, we are all fallen creatures (Romans 3:23); and it is God who made us different and unique (Psalm 139).
  • Conflict is about speaking up and telling our truth (what seems so real and true to us).
  • Conflict is about being open and honest with others.
  • There is usually a win-win-win solution somewhere. This solution can only be formed in Christ.
  • Resolving conflict keeps us from living in fear.
  • Resolving conflict helps us clarify, sort and value our differences.
  • Resolving conflict can bring us closer together.
  • Resolving conflict is respectful of ourselves and others.
Guidelines to Resolving Stress in Your Relationship

Resolving conflict is a commitment to clarity, to listening with an open mind and an open heart, and to respecting and valuing one another and our differences. Following are some guidelines for working through conflicts. In some instances, it may be helpful to have a third person to help guide you through the process.

1. Agree that no one will leave the discussion session and that each person will be respectful. Commit to stay with the process until you reach an agreed-upon solution. If you need to take a break, agree on a time to resume.

2. Have each person name the problem or conflict and describe feelings, thoughts and needs. Be as specific as possible. Take turns to listen actively without being defensive.

3. Each of you have contributed to your unplesant and unhealthy interactions. Own your part in creating (or maintaining) the conflict/problem. List past attempts that were not successful in resolving the issue.

4. Take time for silent reflection. During this time, allow each person time to reflect and consider each aspect of the concern. Affirm that there is a way to come to resolution. From this place of silence, tell each other any thoughts, concerns or considerations that arise. Braintorm solutions with an open mind. Do not judge or criticize any suggestion until all ideas are on the table.

5. Discuss and evaluate each possible solution. Stay with the issue until a resolution emerges. Allow for all the time it takes. Pick one solution that both of you want to try (with specific actions from each person). If you can't find a resolution, you may need to accept that you disagree, or get professional help to continue working toward resolution. In any case, set up another time to review and discuss your progress.

Because conflict is natural to the human experience, the best way to deal with it is to create the kind of connections in which differences are acknowledged and supported as part of the ongoing and spirited process of being in a relationship. We all want to be understood and accepted!

Do you know your problems become smaller if your God becomes bigger? As Christians, we also need to stay in relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit so that we can rise above our human limitation.

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Real Life Story
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

There were times that I thought it was inevitable that James and I would either go our separate ways or would remain miserable our entire lives living under the same roof in a loveless marriage. At that time, I did not think it was possible to start all over. I am so grateful that James and I have learned to live and serve as two unique individuals on the same team. Praise the Lord for every opportunity that we celebrate life (e.g. the Fourth of July) with our son and his family.

The love story of James and I is recorded in my article, "Love, So Amazing" that was published by CCMUSA in the April-June 2011 Edition of Challenger Magazine. You can read it here.

In spite of life's ups and downs, James and I have continued to find amazing love in Christ as a couple having FUN and functioning as a team. What a privilege it is to develop a strong family in Christ based on God's truth and grace. James and I love sharing with and teaching couples how to break destructive cycles, rekindle their love, and communicate so that they get the love they really want.
Winnis Chiang Winnis Chiang is Founder and CEO of Parenting ABC, a company dedicated to teaching and coaching Chinese Christian parents from around the world how to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, and young adults. Her passion is fueled by the new life she received when she found Christ in 1989 after her marriage and parenting were no longer working. She specializes in helping Mandarin and Cantonese speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and influence their American Born Chinese children.

Winnis is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in California. She holds a M.A. degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Western Seminary and a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley. Her former careers include being a software engineer, development department manager, stay-at-home mom, counselor of kids and teens at public schools, and children's minister.

Winnis and her husband (now a pastor) have been married since 1975 after only three months of dating. They enjoy their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren!

Winnis Chiang, M.A., LMFT


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