4. Effective Conflict Resolution
Everyone has arguments, conflicts, crisis and problems. We sure have … lots of them! The outcome either hurts the relationship or helps it. It’s what we do about our problems that is most important. After all, marriages with the biggest problems don't necessarily break up. It's the way you respond to problems that determines the future of the relationship.
Problems or crisis confront every relationship and no one enjoys them, but strong families are able to respond to the problem in a constructive way – to see some positive element in even the most difficult situations. Problems cause strong relationships to pull together rather than be pulled apart, as they develop trust and a greater reliance on each other. Discuss your differences and pray together.
When facing an unresolved conflict, here are a few good questions to consider:
- What is the main issue causing the conflict?
- When would be the best time to discuss it?
- Have we listened to each other’s perspective?
- What possible solutions can we think of?
- Which solution should we try first?
Admit it when you are wrong. Repent first and forgive first, like Jesus did. This is your responsibility. Take the first step. Anger gets us in trouble but it is pride that keeps us there and creates barriers. Never go to bed angry. You will get angry … but handle it constructively. Don't use it as a weapon and don't hold on to it (see Ephesians 4:26-32).
When you get stuck, get help fast. Naturally, we try to fix things ourselves. We don’t like to admit that we need help from someone who knows how to get us out. However, a dinner and a movie won’t solve deep problems. Humble yourself and ask for help. This is the beginning of the healing process. The prime marriage destroyer is hard heartedness. See a counselor or mature Christian.
Be committed to each other, no matter what. After all, true love is a commitment, feelings or no feelings. Love is based on one's vow, one's word, and one’s promise. Feelings come and go, they rise and fall. Commitment stays the same. Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the mood in which it was made is past.
You won't have a problem free marriage. It will take determination, a willingness to adjust, and a commitment to make it work no matter what. Long marriages are not necessarily problem free, but they're committed to make it last. Commitment and trust are the glue that holds us together.
How is your conflict resolution? Is there something unresolved between you right now? What could you do to fix it?
P.S. For some more thoughts on conflict resolution see my blog post on Controlling Your Anger.
“It is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; in fact they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. However, fearing the pain involved, almost all of us attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, forget them or pretend they do not exist.” [from The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck]