I laid in bed next to my husband, and while we were only about 5 inches apart, we hadn’t purposely communicated in a few days and my soul was feeling the distance. I drew in a sizeable, dramatic breath and let it out in a way that my husband was supposed to understand: “I’m UPSET!” and… sure enough. He did.
“Um… what’s wrong?” he said, our backs still not touching.
The conflict was about dinner earlier that night. He was hungry and I was rushed for time. We both acted pretty silly. But my husband apologized and I never did. And yet, here I am, throwing a fit in our queen-sized bed.
My husband did the grown-up thing. He rolled over and faced me; he was humble and apologized, even though I was a little more inflammatory than I’m letting on in my retelling.
We’re broke! We listened to the snake!
You can hope conflicts will never come your way- but that isn’t a viable option for more than… maybe 2.5 minutes… because we live in a sinful world! When Adam and Eve chose to listen to the snake and sin against God, everything became broken. Our sin natures took over, sickness entered our bodies and relationships became broken. Our selfish wills took over our desire to obey God.
I’m still growing in my marriage but I’ve learned some marriage conflict resolution tips that I would love to share with you!
7 Tips To Handle Marriage Conflict In a Healthy Way- Marriage Conflict Resolution Ideas
1. Pray- and Check Your Own Heart
A better approach to an ACTUAL resolution to what I considered an inconsiderate comment from my husband would be to start in prayer.
My husband is not my enemy. He is a man with deep love for me; he loves me more than any other human on earth. God put him in my life on purpose.
When I forget these facts, I know that my heart is in the wrong place.
A simple prayer of “God, help me understand and clearly see my husband” goes a long way to help build bridges when you feel like an island.
2. Look at the Offender With Love- and Realize You Are An Offender As Well
My husband had to leave right after he ate dinner, so he was in a hurry. This is an important detail that I would have realized if I would have approached God in prayer as soon as it happened. As it happened… my realization was a little more delayed.
I was completely ignoring my own role in my conflict with my husband.
I CLEARLY saw his hurtful comments… but in reality? Yeah. I could have and should have planned my time a little better.
Funny how we see our own sin as this itty-bitty thing but other’s sins as monumental and life-changing.
I want my husband to see the offensive things that I do towards him as accidents; as areas that I want to mature in and grow in. I want him to have grace for me in my mistakes… so I need to do the same for him.
My attitude in conflicts either helps matures or helps delay the maturity of our marital relationship.
3. Listen to Understand- Not to Respond
This is the point where a conflict that is ALMOST resolved can take a U-turn and turn tempers high… therefore causing an even larger problem.
Have you experienced this before? You are in the middle of telling someone your opinion on a controversial topic… or maybe telling a story. Or maybe even small talk. But before you even finish your thought you find yourself stopped in your tracks.
Do you think this opens up communication lines or shuts them down? Keep this in mind when you are in a conflict.
You know the adult (well, at least mature Christian adult) thing to do is to let the other person finish their comment, while trying to understand with no selfish motives and then calmly respond. It’s hard, but it really DOES help resolve conflicts and helps you grow in compassion towards the offender in future events.
4. Use “I” Statements, not “You” Statements
This is one of my favorite tips, it really is an ALMOST instantaneous fix…
Talk with humility. People appreciate humility deeply and are a lot more apt to accept “I” statements than “you” statements.
Which of these is easier to accept?
- You are so selfish. Why do you do __________? Can’t you be kind to me occasionally?
- I feel __________ when you ___________ and I was hoping that we could talk about it.
Of course the second one! It takes more energy to say all of that for a reason- it’s a far more valuable and life-giving comment.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
5. Don’t Run Away from Conflict- But You Can Take a Break to Recollect
When tempers flare, it’s most wise to take a step back from the person that you’re having the conflict with, as well as the sin nature within yourself that wants retribution and/or a sometimes artificial resolution right away. (By prayer!) It’s almost always better to take a breath to recollect.
But don’t let your breath turn into too long of a time.
These conflicts are a little like toddlers. They sometimes need breaks from attention- but not too long. If left alone too long without attention, they get silent and suddenly your whole house is a mess.
The trick is to wait a little to keep your calm, but don’t wait so long that your calm is again gone… or has morphed into bitterness.
6. Pray Before, During, and After You Speak
The Bible asks for us to pray throughout our lives, consistently taking things to God. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you could tell they were praying short prayers as they were speaking to you? I have experienced that and it is seriously such a blessing. I want to do that for other people, and when I am successful in listening to both the Holy Spirit, and the other person speaking to me, the conversation goes SO. MUCH. BETTER…!
I know it sounds impossible to listen to both the Holy Spirit fully and listen to the person God has given you to… It will take some practice and grace.
7. Don’t Go To Bed Angry
Does this mean that you need to resolve the entire problem, even if it means staying up until 3 AM? No.
But it might mean that both parties to talk a little bit, diffuse a little of the anger…and then choose not to be angry.
Practice your marriage conflict resolution tips a day at a time.
God wants you to have a full healing- Satan wants for you to feel stuck.
Keep choosing to purposely resolve conflict in a healthy way in your marriage and it will come easier. Keep praying that God will use your marriage to help you both grow in Christ. It’s hard, but all good things are.
Related article: 5 Things Your Husband Needs To Hear Every Day
What do you think?
Have you heard of any of these marriage conflict resolution tips? Do you have any to add, or any stories of God redeeming your marriage? Please share!
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