Is it hard for you to resolve conflict in marriage in a healthy way? Just because you are married, it doesn’t mean you automatically come with conflict resolution skills. I know first hand!
In fact, most of the time, healthy conflict resolution skills are learned through trial and error. In my case, mostly error. I’m a bit slow…
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When problems would arise in my marriage, I would try one way, only to move on to a new tactic if I didn’t get the desired result. Peace.
I hated conflict! I’m a people pleaser to the core.
Unfortunately, after years of stuffing my feelings down, I found peace at all costs didn’t work out so well. (I got sick.)
Perhaps like me, when you have failed enough times at conflict resolution, you finally decide to pray and ask God for insight. Sometimes help is in the form of Bible verses about resolving conflict, other times a sermon, or even marriage counseling if the situation is too sticky.
After 26 years of marriage, I have learned a few pearls of wisdom about how to resolve conflict in marriage. As I said, mostly through trial and error. Today, I would like to pass some of my thoughts on to you.
Perhaps these tips will help you in your marriage.
How NOT to Resolve Conflict in Marriage
We had only been married a week before the big one hit. It was our first major fight as a married couple. And let me tell you, it was a doozy. The conversation started off innocently but went south within a matter of minutes.
I remember like yesterday where I was when it happened. I was standing in the living room of our 600 square foot condo looking at my adorable husband, dreaming about parenting our future kids.
Sadly, he did not want to join me in fairyland.
Instead, he went all commando on me because he knew exactly how to resolve conflict in marriage the right way. By force! He wanted to stake out his ground early in our marriage and draw lines in the sand about parenting before I got any big ideas of my own.
Next thing I knew, he was telling me the health protocol of our invisible children. No questions, comments, or rebuttals. It was his way or the highway.
One of his proclamations was that we were going to feed our children (that didn’t exist) cod liver oil.
I, of course, reacted in defiance to the idea because I knew how to resolve conflict in marriage the healthy way. We didn’t need to talk through the benefits of cod live oil (fish oil) or read any information about the subject.
I already knew he was wrong without listening.
Deep in the caverns of my mind, there was vast knowledge about parenting our faux children. And that included the evils of taking cod liver oil. It sounded like something from the dark ages.
In fact, I was envisioning a wicked mother, with a black hat and a wart on her nose, chasing our sweet babies around the house, spoon in hand, cramming the putrid liquid down their throats. I could even hear a shrill cackle following the dirty deed as my poisoned children withered to the floor.
I wanted no part of his evil plan. That was not the kind of mother I was going to be. And most of all, he was NOT going to tell me how to raise our pretend children. Who did he think he was anyway? I was a teacher. I was an expert!
The last thing I remember about that conversation was my husband shaking his finger in my face saying, “You will feed our children cod liver oil.” That’s when I lost my sanity and bit him.
In a fit of rage, I grabbed his finger and bit the fire out of it and then ran to our bedroom which was about 7 feet from the living room. After that, I slammed the door and locked it.
As a Christian, I knew exactly how to resolve conflict in marriage in a healthy way. Biting and door slamming. After that incident, I resolved to stuff my feelings down. I was so embarrassed at my own rage that I swore I would never do that again.
And that is how we started our first week of marriage. Neither of us knew how to resolve conflict in marriage in a healthy way that was biblical.
Funny thing…I ended giving my kids cod liver oil. It’s great for ear infections! Who knew?
How Do Christians Resolve Conflict in Marriage?
Here are some biblical ways to resolve conflict in marriage. It took many years and a lot of tears to understand that most of our arguments were because of selfishness and pride.
Like any marriage, it can still root its ugly head every now and then. The only difference is that we deal with it a lot faster. Here are some of the things we do when we have conflict:
Pursue your spouse. Genuinely listen to his point of view. Be interested in her ideas, feelings, and dreams. This means taking time away from the kids so you are not distracted. Dates are an excellent way to reconnect as a couple and talk through things.
Consider the facts, evaluate, pray through the situation at hand. Sometimes emotions take over and escalate a situation. Stand back and see it logically. Would it be a good thing for you, your marriage, and your family? Would it hurt? Does it go against God’s word? Consider these things when you’re trying to resolve conflict in marriage.
Reject pride and selfish behavior. Be willing to admit when you are wrong. Put the other person first. You don’t have to always get your own way. Many times we mistake questions for dissent and feel threatened. Choose to respond in love.
Focus on the problem, not the person. Be willing to address the situation even if you know it is going to be uncomfortable. Avoiding it will not make it go away. If your spouse overreacts, keep calm. Gently direct it back to the problem. Don’t escalate it further. This is one of the best ways to resolve conflict in marriage.
You can not change your spouse. You can only change yourself. Work on you. If you have an addiction, anger issues, or any other unhealthy behaviors, address it now. Ask God to show you any blind spots in your life. Changing yourself will force your spouse to have to change the way he interacts with you.
Wait until you both have peace about a decision. Pushing too hard to get your way may end up in a disaster if your spouse has a genuine concern about something. God uses the gifts of both the husband and the wife to get a sound decision. If you think you don’t need your spouse’s input, you are sadly mistaken. This is an important thing to remember when you resolve conflict in marriage.
Be willing to compromise so you both win. This means changing your thinking from “I” to “we.” You both win or lose together. It is not a competition against each other; it is a team sport. Many people go into marriage thinking they are going to get all their needs met when in reality many times it is about dying to self.
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What Does the Bible Say About How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage?
Here are 10 powerful Bible verses to help you learn how to resolve conflict in marriage. I hope they will help reinforce some of the tips I suggested.
I Peter 3: 8-9 NIV. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
I Peter 3: 8-9 ESV. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Matthew 19:6 ESV. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Colossians 3:19 ESV. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Proverbs 14:29 NIV. Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a ESV. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Romans 12: 19 NIV. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Hebrews 12:5 NIV. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Matthew 18:15-16 ESV. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Resolving Conflict God’s Way
I pray these tips will help you navigate your marriage God’s way. It is not easy living with another person in the same space, especially if you are in quarantine!
Don’t discount a good marriage counselor if you can’t get on the same page. Sometimes a third party can help you resolve conflict in your marriage.
Most of all, pray for your spouse. God can work miracles in even the most difficult situations.
Share your tips on how to resolve conflict in marriage in the comments below.
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Do You Have Family Problems? There is Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain.
Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart!
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.