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resolve conflict in marriage

How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage: 7 Positive Ways to Deal with Your Spouse

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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resolve conflict in marriage

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.

RELATED: 11 Incredible Tips For a Successful 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?

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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:

1. Listen

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.

2. Consider

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.

RELATED: The Best Way to Change Your Husband Through Prayer

3. Reject

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.

RELATED: The Greatest Secret to a Happy Marriage

4. Focus

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.

5. Change

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.

RELATED: The Best Marriage Advice for Struggling Couples

6. Wait

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.

7. Compromise

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.

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. 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 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 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, 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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21 thoughts on “How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage: 7 Positive Ways to Deal with Your Spouse”

  1. Thanks so much for this knowledge and wisdom impartation,I understand that Marriage is a school where you are given a Certificate but never graduate because you keep learning everyday, you surrender pride( so difficult) anger and a lot more, you even compromise and make lots of Sacrifices to make things work out, I pray GOD keeps remoulding us till we get into a better and best shapes, thanks Julie Plagens; all your teachings were so inspiring, may GOD keep imparting on you to mend homes through your wonderful insights…

    1. Agu, thank you for this sweet comment. My husband and I lead a marriage group at church. We learn just as much as the young couples in the class. We never stop growing as individuals or as a couple. I am so grateful my husband wants to be the best he can be for me.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It’s very useful mostly to the newly weds, just like us. The first thing that caught my attention was Item No.1. Two months after getting married, we had a serious selfishness argument over petty things. Our explanations made no difference since we were focused on ourselves and it not good. As a couple, it is extremely important to listen to each other, because if we fail to hear each other’s concern/issue, we cannot get an answer to it and we cannot resolve it at all. Our arguments are more likely to be driven by pride. We can’t avoid assumptions or conclusions unless you know what really happened, so better just hear each other out then you’ll know what to do next and pray as well.

    1. Riya, I am glad you worked it out. So many times we bring our baggage into marriage not realizing we are broken and hurting even before we walked into wedded bliss. Pride is one of the biggest things that keep us from being united as one. Glad you realize that now. I hope these 7 tips to help resolve conflict in marriage will help you as you walk together as one.

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  4. Julie,

    What a great post on how to resolve conflict in marriage. My husband & I are still newlyweds, coming up on our one year anniversary. Even though most of the tips sound familiar to me, it’s harder to remember them when conflict arises.

    1. Lauren, it is hard to remember what to do when you are emotionally charged. You will learn over time how to resolve conflict in marriage. It usually comes with trial and error!

  5. Julie, you had me at “I bit his finger.” I’ve never experienced this type of conflict in my own marriage—but I do know several couples who have. Thank you for sharing your heart and some practical and biblical wisdom to help handle conflict in marriage the right way.

    1. Haha! I know who does that, right? My daughter still laughs at this story. We have had a lot of trials but God has refined us. And he still is working on us. God is good to not give up on us. We are a miracle. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Denise, it is soo easy to get off the problem and get your eyes on the person and his behavior. I have to keep reminding myself that we are a team working together to fix a problem. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Hannah, thanks so much for your comment. It is not easy to resolve conflict in marriage when you are young and selfish! But God is good. He is able to refine even the most difficult people!

    2. Julie,
      Thank you SO much for sharing these jewels!! When I read that you bit your husband, I knew I had to keep reading, LOL! But seriously, this has been one of the BEST reads I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, in a long time! My husband and I are newlyweds and we welcome all of the helpful tips we can get. This was spot on! Thanks again! Continue to be Blessed and be a Blessing to others! GOD IS LOVE💖!

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