Monday, August 30, 2010

Part 1: Conflict resolution in marriages

As you move towards oneness in your relationship, you will experience times of disappointment and hurt. Marriage is said to be a bed of roses but remember rose bushes have thorns. These times can be opportunities to grow or traps that will keep you from growing in oneness, thus leading to distance and awkwardness in your relationship, if not to open hostility.

A Conflict is a situation in which people get involved in a serious disagreement or argument.

The presence of conflicts in marriages is often due to basic points of difference between the partners in marriages. As such every conflict situation, we face, has a potential to make the relationship stronger or destroy oneness.

The reasons for conflict can be varied e.g.
  •  We are different: gender, upbringing, beliefs, intellect, personality etc
  • Communication difficulties: ‘scramblers’, failure to understand unique communication signals.
  • Expectations: whether logical or illogical, once this is not lived up to, could present conflict areas. e. g. dressing style, cleanliness preferences.etc
  • Human emotions
  • Failure to fulfill our roles – i.e. of love and respect
 However your reaction to the conflict in marriage determines the growth or stagnation of the marriage. Some possible reactions are as follows:
  • Fight to win: This is the ‘I win, you lose’ or ‘I’m right’, you’re wrong’ position. You seek to dominate the other person. Personal relationships take second place to the need to triumph.
  • Withdraw: You seek to avoid discomforts at all costs saying ‘I’m uncomfortable so I’ll get out’. You see no hope of resolving the conflict, or you lack the strength to confront it. You cope by giving your mate the silent treatment.
  • Yield: You assume it is better to go along with the other person’s demands than to risk a confrontation. Rather than start another argument, whatever you wish is fine. To you, a safe feeling is more important than a close relationship.
  • Lovingly resolve: You commit to resolve the conflict by taking steps to carefully and sensitively discuss the issue. Resolving a conflict requires a special attitude - one of humility, of placing the relationship at a higher priority than the conflict itself. You value the relationship more than winning or losing, escaping or feeling comfortable.
  • Bickering, giving in, giving up or denying conflict- are other ways people could resort to.
 Some of these ways create as many problems as you try to solve. They may allow you to escape temporarily from the conflict at hand, but you haven’t dealt with the emotions the conflict sparked - the hurt, resentment and anger.

The best way is to move towards resolution. Only when you resolve to confront each other in a loving way, will you resolve a conflict. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you’. You need to learn to cherish your spouse! You need to think the best of your spouse and seek ways to work together. You need to learn the skill of resolving conflicts in a redemptive way. You cannot afford to keep a record of offences that your spouse commits. Even God reminds us in Psalm 130:3 - 4 that ‘If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O lord, who could stand? But with you, there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.’

You may think your husband or wife does not merit forgiveness, but do you? Remember Jesus Christ paid the price by dying on the cross when we knew Him not. He agreed to be nailed to the cross for our sins when we were yet sinners. It is so glorious and wonderful. If He could do it, we can do it too. You may say, He was the son of God. But remember He came to earth and lived and died as the son of Man. So you are capable of forgiving your spouse. I can’t tell you it will be easy all the time, but with the grace of God, it is doable.

In Part 2, I will continue with some actions that are particularly destructive when faced with conflicts and practical steps to take when resolving conflicts. Check this space on Thursday, 2nd of September. Shalom


Click to read Part 2: Conflict resolution in Marriage

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