Practicing Conflict Resolution

by Pastor Marvin R. Knight

Conflicts in marriage are inevitable, so plan ahead about how you and your spouse will resolve your inevitable conflicts. Then, when you hit a bump in the road, you have a map to help you negotiate through the rough spot. Without a plan, you might withdraw, leaving conflicts unsettled; or the conflict might escalate into angry comments that you can’t take back. Here are some guidelines to help you.

WORK IT OUT:

  • Recognize marriage as a “we” business. Your relationship will shrivel if it becomes a matter of only two “I’s.” Focus on what’s best for “us,” not just for “me.”  (Gen.2:22-24)
  • Process the data as quickly as you can. Conflict prolonged grows more dangerous. Get it out in the open. Deal with all the important facts and feelings then and there. (Eph.4:26-27)
  • Stick to the subject. Don’t turn a disagreement into a competition by resurrecting unrelated or old issues. Resolve one problem at a time.
  • Don’t intimidate. Never threaten by using a loud voice, a dominating physical posture, a list of consequences, or a barrage of emotional bombshells in the heat of the moment. It’s destructive. (Prov.15:1)
  • Reject name-calling. If a description is meant to put-down or demean your spouse, you will only bring hurt for which you will have to apologize later. Just banish it from your language. (James 1:19)
  • Turn up your listening sensitivity. Instead of speaking and defending your position, pay attention, restate your spouse’s view, and evaluate its merits.
  • Practice some give-and-take. You won’t be taken advantage of if you both regularly and graciously compromise.
  • Celebrate every victory. Every time you resolve a conflict, no matter how small, give the Lord praise for giving you the grace and patience to improve your marital skills. (1 Thess.5:18)

FIGHT “FAIR”:

  1. Keep it honest. (Eph.4:25)
  2. Keep it under control. (Gal.5:16, 22)
  3. Keep it timed right. (Prov.15:23)
  4. Keep it positive. (Prov.15:1)
  5. Keep it tactful. (Prov.13:16)
  6. Keep it private. (Prov.12:15)
  7. Keep it cleaned up. (Prov.16:7, 20)

Most importantly: When you’re wrong, admit it.