Conflict is a Normal Part of Any Relationship

Marriages are no exception. No matter how much you love each other, you won’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Having disagreements doesn’t mean anything is wrong in the marriage. Thankfully healthy conflict resolution is a skill that everyone can learn.

However, the way you handle your disagreements plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy marriage that lasts a lifetime.

How do you respond to Conflict?

Regardless of what you call them (debates, arguments, conflicts), every couple will have disagreements. And when it happens, many will respond in one of three ways:

For men it might be:

  1. Give in. You would rather give up than argue about it.
  2. Flee the Scene. You hope the problem will take care of itself.
  3. Assert authority. You assert your “power” to gain control of the situation.

Husbands, do any of these describe your typical response?

For women it might be:

  1. Try to get the upper hand. You manipulate or hide the facts.
  2. Challenge your husband. You know you are right or “know” better.
  3. Give in. You pretty much do things his way because “it’s easier that way.”

Ladies, do you see your typical response in any of these?

It should come as no surprise that none of these options are healthy conflict resolution strategies that promote long-term satisfaction or peace in the relationship. You need healthy strategies that build your relationship and intimacy in marriage.

8 Strategies for Healthy Conflict Resolution

  1. Find a good time to talk. Make sure both of you are well-rested and able to focus. Don’t’ try to solve problems when one or both of you are distracted, tired, or stressed.
  2. Sit down and face each other. You can talk more calmly when both of you’re sitting down rather than pacing around. Facing each other and making eye contact communicates that you are actively listening. It also helps you feel more connected.
  3. Stick to the problem at hand. Focus on the current conflict. It is not the time to air all your grievances and frustrations. Stick with one topic and visit other topics of discussion at a later time. Also, avoid phrases such as ‘always’ and ‘never.’
  4. Remember you are on the same team. Even though you may have many differences, remember it is not a ‘my way’ or ‘their way’ partnership. Work toward a solution that represents ‘our way.’
  5. Identify the core problem. Conflicts in marriage typically arise from a deeper issue that has built up over time. Attitudes, beliefs, or expectations are clues to uncovering the root issue of the conflict. Healthy conflict resolution digs into the deeper problem to resolve it.
  6. Avoid Character assassination. Discussing the circumstances and behavior that resulted in the argument is okay. However, healthy conflict resolution does not include attacking your spouse’s personality or character.
  7. Winning is not the goal. Your relationship is far more important than who wins the argument or “being right.”
  8. Keep no record of wrongs. Be quick to admit your mistakes, forgive one another, and move on from the conflict.

The most important strategy to remember about healthy conflict resolution is that we must continue to yield ourselves and our rights, first to God, and then to one another.

If you struggle to develop strategies for healthy conflict resolution, Eagle Family Ministries has years of experience helping couples build conflict resolution skills. Also, Christian marriage conferences and retreats are great options to build marriage skills.

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