Yes, it is true, in marriage there will be conflict. This is the case in any relationship. Different people+different perspectives=conflict.

I heard the following list preached at my church (Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, NC) and have been quite fond of it. [it is another one of those lists that are taped to my mirror :)]

This can be a stressful time of year. It comes full swing with final exams, end of year goals/deadlines, family get-togethers, parties, as well as the overall hussle-bussle of December.  So- are you working out your conflicts? Or letting them fester and build bitterness? My quick test for superb resolution is a quick question: Do I want to kiss my husband after a conflict? I find that if I want to kiss him, we have successfully resolved the conflict. If not, it might be best to keep working at it. Communication is key!

Hopefully these steps will help you work towards RESOLUTION!

1. Confront Problems as soon as possible after they arise. Don’t allow them to fester and cause bitterness.

2. Master the art of listening. If we fail to show others respect by listening to them, we shouldn’t be surprised if they show us the same discourtesy. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand.

3. Limit the discussion of the conflict to the here and now issue. Don’t drag out yesterday’s (or last year’s!) dirty laundry. [this is a big one for us ladies!]

4. Use “I” messages in making your point and expressing your emotions. This not only allows you to take responsibility for your feelings, but it also allows the other person to hear about your feelings without feeling defensive. “You” messages tend to be perceived as attacks and criticism.

5. Avoid exaggerations such as “always,” “never,” etc. Such statements are very seldom true, simply because as inconsistent human beings we very seldom “always” or “never” do anything.

6. Avoid character assassination (name calling and putdowns). Pointing out character flaws or demeaning another person will do nothing but stir up greater disharmony.

7. Use appropriate words and actions for the matter at hand. Not all arguments are worth fighting at peak volume.

8. Don’t be concerned about winning or losing the argument. It’s better if both parties can be more concerned about resolving the conflict rather than who “wins” or “loses.”

9. Determine limits. Comments which are hurtful or damaging must be avoided.

10. Choose to forgive. All people fail. If we don’t give others a chance to start over after failure, our relationships will suffer. Complete forgiveness may take time, depending on the degree of hurt caused by the other person. However, it’s important to have an attitude of forgiveness and keep asking God to help you get to the point where you can truly forgive.

My husband and I both come from divorced parents. We practically have master’s degrees in fighting. Thankfully, this does not have to be the case for our home. Sometimes if there is a conflict that is more difficult than another, Shaun will pray that the Lord will help us overcome our stubborness and choose to put each other above our own interests. I cannot think of a time He has not helped us. This rougher aspect of marriage is not always advertised next to engagement rings, but it couldn’t be more necessary. Our marriage is stronger because the Lord has allowed us to grow closer together as a result of our conflicts, rather than further away. It is not the amount of conflicts that is always the problem, it is how you choose to handle them.

Feel free to comment on what has worked in your relationships!