Conflicts are very common in any type of relationship but much more common in marriage. Conflicts simply highlight our differences in opinion, character, and background and because we are usually opposite in nature, there’s bound to be clashes. Sometimes, these conflicts are due to parenting styles, money related, work related, stress levels or just down to personal habits and behaviours..
Often when conflict arises, we tend to approach it with the attitude or intention of resolution, which in most people’s minds means to deal with it once and for all in order for the issue not to repeat itself and this is why we get disappointed when the issue crops up again.
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].” 1 Corinthians 13:7
The most effective way is to aim to “manage” conflict, so that if the same issue arises again, we have methods in place to ensure it doesn’t bring things to a halt and thereby causing breakdown in the marriage.
By doing this, we are giving our spouse the leeway that they may make the same mistake again and our response the next time it happens will be different.
This method acknowledges that we all have the tendency to make the same mistakes more than once even when it’s not deliberate and the only exception is when it’s in danger to one or both parties’ lives or issues relating to extra-marital affairs.
Below are effective techniques to use when trying to manage conflicts.
- Start Gently
In the heat of the moment, it is easy to come at your spouse all gun blazing.
Don’t start with words like, “You always”, “This is so typical of you”, “You never”, “What is wrong with you?”.
Whilst your adrenaline may be running high at that moment, that’s the best time to exercise self-control and avoid yelling. “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” Proverbs 13:3 .
Don’t utter words that will break your spouse’s spirit or words that you may end up regretting later.
- Don’t Jump Straight to Problem Solving
When there’s a conflict, don’t try to rush the process because you want to get the whole thing over and done with by going straight to problem solving but rather you should both express your points of view.
- Mutual Understanding of the Conflict Itself
One of the foundations of dealing with conflicts is to first understand the nature of the conflict itself.
You need to ask, ”What is behind this conflict that makes it an issue?”.
For example, if your conflict revolves around finances, could the real issue your spouse have with this be the fear of losing the financial stability/security of the family rather than just the money itself?
Spending money is not a bad thing, it’s part of the cycle that keeps our economy going but spending more than you make or taking the joint decision out of your spouse’s hands can result in conflict.
- Avoid the Blame Game
It is very easy and tempting to want to point out your spouse’s wrong-doing when they have done something that annoys you or truly hurt you.
But when you stay on that lane throughout the discussion by focusing on all they’ve done wrong to you and recalling past mistakes, you will hit a gridlock and it will counter your overall objective, which is to express yourself and resolve the issue at hand.
When you stay on this path, expect your spouse to react in a defensive manner. Don’t act superior, no name calling or any act of contempt towards your spouse.
- Reach a Common Ground
You must come to an understanding that you and your spouse are two separate individuals living together as one.
Each one is unique and will have their own ways of doing things but those ways can be blended together as a form of acceptance of each other.
There are times your spouse’s ways may not be what you like and vice versa but you must come to learn to overlook the little things by accommodating one another.
When there are bigger issues at hand, work together to implement a realistic and workable approach.
For example, if it’s a case where one person is a spender and the other a saver, then one of the most realistic approaches is to introduce a budget system.
Have monthly allowances for both parties so that you both get an agreed capped amount to spend on yourself per month.
You can even take a step further by having accounts that let you track your spending, so you avoid going over your limits.
There are always workable solutions if there’s willingness to do them.
- Apologise & Forgive
Apology is a great way to wrap up a conflict because it shows your understanding of the issue and the impact it had (or could have) on your spouse.
A sincere one should reflect your willingness to learn from it and prevent it from happening again or at least minimise its occurrence.
Apology should not be used as a tool to force your spouse into submission or admission of fault.
A positive response to apology should be forgiveness. May I emphasise that whether an apology is offered or not, we are commanded to forgive regardless of how painful it may be.
“Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].” 1 Corinthians 13:7
Our differences were a part of the things that attracted us to each other; so, let’s deal with them from the lens of love and not contempt.