Rules for resolving conflict? Yes! There are rules everywhere. There are rules for the road. Imagine driving an automobile with no rules set up ahead of time so people don’t continually crash into each other! There are of course rules of the land. Imagine a country or a city or a village where there are no laws or rules —where everyone can decide how they want to conduct themselves and anything goes! (It might sound ideal until someone decides to cause problems.)
There are even rules in our homes. Imagine living in a home where anything goes as to the way everyone conducts themselves. What potential chaos!
Resolving Conflict Rules?
Rules can protect us from ourselves and our natural inclination to do that which will cause the destruction of a family or a marriage. But why do we hesitate to put rules or guidelines into place to help us slow our tempers down? if we do we can be resolving conflict in healthier ways —ways that reflect God’s heart. After all, we’re told in the Bible:
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.“ (Ephesians 4:30-32)
You HAVE to know that God’s heart is grieving when you fight with each other in ways that are so divisive and ungodly. Also, a horrible testimony is being lived out as the world looks on. As Jesus said:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.“ (John 13:34-35)
Make it Your Mission
We urge you to PLEASE make it your mission today to do all you can to learn how to resolve your conflicts in healthy ways. Put together whatever rules and guidelines you can to help. Tape them on the refrigerator, a mirror, a wall, or wherever, until they are ingrained in the way you treat each other when you work out your conflicts with each other.
To help you in this quest, below you will find several guidelines for resolving conflict. Glean through them to compose your own list of guidelines, rules or commandments of the home. Plus we have articles posted on our web site in the “Communication and Conflict” and “Communication Tools” topics. We pray these will help:
GUIDELINES FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT
• “Discuss the Conflict as soon as possible.
The old proverb, ‘time heals all wounds’ does not apply to conflicts in marriage. But the modern-day saying, ‘timing is everything’ does. When an irritating issue is unresolved, it builds emotional distance between you and your spouse. And just like a splinter, the issue gets under your skin and continues to fester until it is dealt with.
“When your spouse’s behavior bothers you, make a decision to confront your mate as soon as possible. If the issue needs your undivided attention, choose a time when no one else is around —even if you have to ask for a few minutes alone together.” (Simon Presland, from the article “How to Fight Fair”)
• “Take it Private and Keep it Private.
Fighting in front of your children is nothing short of child abuse. It can and will scar them emotionally —all because you don’t have the self-control to contain yourself until you can talk privately.” (Dr Phil McGraw, “How to Fight Fair”)
• “Avoid Personal Insults or Character Assassination.
‘Attacking your mate’s character is the best way to make an enemy for life’, says Pastor Luke. ‘To avoid this, it is important to see the issue as the problem —not your spouse. This is how God deals with us. He tells us of his infinite acceptance, yet confronts us on issues that do not line up with his word.’
“Stay focused on the issue at hand. This will help you remain objective and express your thoughts clearly without alienating your spouse through personal attacks.” (Simon Presland, “How to Fight Fair”)
“Remind the people… to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.“ (Titus 3:2)
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.“ (Galatians 5:15)
• Sometimes it’s Best to Take a “Time Out.”
“Agree ahead of time to allow for a temporary ‘time out’ if either of you becomes too angry to continue.” (Mart DeHaan, from RBC article “Rules for Fair Fighting”)
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.“ (Proverbs 16:32)
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.“ (Proverbs 29:11)
• “Keep it Relevant.
Don’t bring up old grudges or sore points when they don’t belong in a particular argument.” (Dr Phil McGraw, “How to Fight Fair”)
“In many marriages, confronting an issue is the gunpowder that ignites World War 3. Defenses kick in. Accusations fly. And by the time the smoke has cleared, spouses have bombed each other with everything that has happened since the day they were married.
“When you decide to face an issue, don’t allow yourself —or your mate —to drag in past hurts. Deal with one issue at a time. Make a rule between yourselves that if neither is willing to discuss a sore point as soon as it happens, then the issue cannot be used as ammunition for future fights.” (Simon Presland, from article “How to Fight Fair”)
• Build Relationship Bridges, Not Walls.
“The goal of any disagreement should be to understand each other’s feelings and strive toward an amiable compromise. With that goal in mind, let’s consider … Below-the-belt Tactics to Avoid:
1. Dragging others into the argument (‘Well, my mom says…’)
2. Giving the silent treatment
3. Yelling or crying to get your way
4. Spewing destructive criticism (‘You suck the joy out of everything!’
5. Using sarcasm
6. Issuing threats and ultimatums
7. Getting defensive
8. Using buzz words (always, never, hate, divorce)
9. Expecting him [or her] to read your mind.” (Shannon Ethridge, “Fighting Fair”)
• “Confront to Heal, Not to Win.
Some people view conflict and confrontation as a win-lose situation. These spouses see being right as far more important than the marital relationship. But working out a hurtful issue is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. Your goal should be not to win, but to confront a conflict and restore the harmony in your relationship.
“Whenever possible, the solution to a problem should benefit both parties. When both spouses feel good about a resolution, it will reestablish the emotional bond between the two of you. Confronting to heal instead of to win will keep your marriage on healthy ground.” (Simon Presland, “How to Fight Fair”)
We’re told in the Bible:
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.“ (Romans 14:19)
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.“ (James 1:19-20)
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace“ (Ephesians 4:1-3)
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.“ (Philippians 1:27)
This is our prayer for how we ALL conduct ourselves in our marriages.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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