Rules for Resolving Conflict – MM #48

Resolving conflict Pixabay rules-1752415_1920Rules 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:


• “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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Filed under: Marriage Messages

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5 responses to “Rules for Resolving Conflict – MM #48

  1. (USA)  My daughter is engaged to a guy and the wedding is in about 2 months. I am seeing big red flags–like she said this morning that he makes her feel like he hates her.

    I do NOT want to be in the middle of this– and yet I feel like it is a huge mistake. What is the best way for my husband and I to respond without being in the middle and causing further division– should they end up together?

  2. (South Africa) I want to thank you. We have been having problems in our 7 years of marriage like any other couple. But it became bad when we couldn’t complete a week without serious fighting that would end up with no solution but hurting hearts and silence treatment for a week or 2. I could see all the mistakes my husband had and sought out marriage counseling services, which didn’t go well. We decided to stop and agreed that my husband would attend alone. I’m sure he never even went for the first appointment.

    I was so disappointed and asked myself how could I marry such an evil man. I didn’t trust him anymore. We couldn’t have a civil conversation without fighting, until my financial adviser told me that it has nothing to do with my husband but everything to do with me. “What do you mean?” I asked. He said God has blessed you immensely in your career and he has plans of blessing you and giving you more responsibilities but he has to work on your behaviour so that you don’t mess up there.

    I pondered on his words and looked at my personality. I took a personality test and couldn’t get the answer I was looking for. I bought the book on Fascinating Womanhood. I saw all my mistakes and was too overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start. I decided to go alone to our marriage counselor who made it clear that this is the journey with God I needed to take to sort out my life.

    I started reading a book you recommended “What a Husband Needs from his Wife” and another one title “Why Does Submission Got to Do with Me”. I felt like God was calling me to meet with him in the shack. I discovered how wrong my thinking was and my belief as far as marriage is concerned, not only that but how broken I am and how is it affecting my marriage. Two weeks ago I joined a healing course with the Living Waters Organization and I have seen God healing my brokenness in an amazing way. I’ll do this course until November this year. I just want to thank you for your articles that kept on making me to look for a solution. Instead I found the source of all my problems “myself”.

    May God give you more wisdom and strength not to give up on our marriages. God bless you.

  3. (Zimbabwe) Thanks for this –it’s a God sent message. I am currently having a misunderstand with my husband and was doing the silent treatment. After reading the Message, I picked up the phone and asked him if we could talk, he agreed. I plan to Confront to heal! Thank you and God bless you.

  4. (THAILAND)  My biggest challenge with my husband is getting him to understand that fighting or confrontation on its own is not a problem, it is rather a healthy means of dealing with issues. But instead of laying down our issues in a non-threatening platform, every time I confront him about something, he becomes defensive and starts pin pointing weaknesses or failures in me and that never takes us anywhere.

    I try to make him understand that it is better for him to raise issues about me in a different platform, not when I am confronting him about something else. He is so obsessed about being right all the time, so much that talking to him about unpleasant issues is no fun at all. Half of the time I come out of those argument more hurt than resolving the problem. I dread talking to him about anything, which is something totally against my nature and that kills me softly every time. My only one wish is that, he would be kind enough to discuss issues openly and fairly and that we both seek a common ground and that I call pleasing each other.

  5. (AUSTRALIA)  It took me a long while to understand that when a wife brings up an issue, it doesn’t mean she is attacking you. If husbands and wives can handle conflicts and issues maturely, they don’t have to get personal and nasty.

    If something is “killing you softly every time” you need to address this before you die on the inside. Seek some professional help. If he has to see every argument as a war he must win, he has attitudes that he needs to seriously look at before you can even begin to deal with conflicts. If he continually shuts you down, there can be no real communication. If there is no communication, there is no intimacy. If there is no intimacy, there is no marriage. As simple as that.

    In fact, maybe it is not even a conflict issue. If he is always trying to discredit you and not allow you to voice your grievances, it could be a sign of abuse. And abuse is not about conflict. When someone abuses you, there is no conflict.