Benjamin Franklin made this famous quote : “In this world there is nothing that is certain except death and taxes” There is another thing you can add to that list, “In marriage, it is certain there will be disagreements”. It is only natural to have differences arise in a relationship. Every home faces situations that need to be worked out.
The good news is there is a biblical solution. You can resolve your differences in a peaceable way. You can resolve conflict without going through divorce court or a family member leaving the home. When handled correctly, conflict can help produce positive change and spiritual and relational growth.
The following are gospel centered principles for resolving differences:
1. Pray. Begin by praying together. The first step toward resolving your differences is to disarm the the enemy and the potential for further hurt. Prayer will stop the enemy and create an atmosphere for reconciliation and healing.
2. Focus. Identify the the real problem and stay focused on it. Trying to fix everything and piling one offense on another will only create roadblocks to resolving the problem. It is important to concentrate on one issue and get it resolved.
3. Depersonalize. Attack the problem not your spouse. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood but with evil spirits. (Ephesians 6:12)
4. Gentleness. Take a gentle approach. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) It is important to neutralize the weapons of your tongue by not raising voices to levels and pitches that create a threatening and negative environment. Use I-statements instead of you-statements. Don’t criticize but offer solutions. Avoid exaggerations like always and never and other generalizations.
5. Love. Love never fails. (1Corinthians 13:8) Choose to walk in love. That requires acting like an adult and not a child. Children throw tantrums and demand their own way. Mature husbands and wives control their emotions and allow love to rule their actions. Love prefers others. True love is unconditional and sacrificial. Love lays down ones own desires, pride, ego, and self for the sake of the other.
6. Repent. We all make mistakes and miss it. Be quick to repent. That means to change – change your thinking, change your attitude, change your words, and change your actions. When you are willing to take responsibility, admit your fault and say you are sorry it brings an avalanche of God’s healing grace into the situation. I challenge you to always be the first to say, “I am sorry I was wrong.” Look for ways you can improve and become a better wife or husband. Stop trying to change and fix your spouse. Work on you. Ask your spouse what you can do to help them. Wow – what a novel idea. Do you really want to resolve the conflict and strife? If you do then do it!
7. Forgive. Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. Choose to forgive your spouse sooner than later. Your forgiveness is not conditioned upon the person making things right. Your forgiveness is based on you choosing to obey the Word. Often we want to see the person’s behavior change or see them suffer until we feel they have “paid” for the hurt they have caused us then we will forgive them. This is not what forgiveness is based on.
There are a couple of other important considerations for resolving conflict;
1.If the conflict has escalated to a destructive and potentially dangerous situation. If there is abuse or your fearful of your or your children’s well being then there are actions you need to take.
a) remove yourself from the situation
b) seek professional help
c) seek legal advice
2. If the source of the problem is habitual or addictive, behavior
a) seek help professional help
God created us for relationship. Your marriage and family are a gift from God. They are too valuable to allow the enemy to destroy them. Do not let unresolved conflict rob you of the joy that healthy relationships can bring. Your marriage is worth the effort to bring resolve and healing. Nothing is impossible with God. There is hope. Have faith. Be a peacemaker.