Scott and I have counseled so many couples through a crisis. In our marriage groups or in any setting when we are doing a question and answer sort of thing, conflict resolution strategies are always brought up. “How do we resolve a conflict without hurting one another?” “How do we fight fair?” “Whenever we have a disagreement, one of us always ends up being hurt.” “What can we do?”
Being in a relationship means that conflicts are going to happen. How do we react? Do we yell at one another? Do you throw old arguments back into the pot? It is scientifically proven that when you are at your angriest, your cognitive function is at its lowest. Think of a reflective bell curve. Emotions are at top line, cognitive functioning is the bottom line. That is why the old, “Stop and Think” is so important when working to resolve a conflict.
I love how this blogger (marriagecoach1.wordpress.com) uses God’s Word to help us handle our disagreements. Enjoy the message! Kirsten
My How To Resolve Conflict Was Published in A Health Care Newsletter
Resolving Conflict Peacefully
I always tell my clients to first go and study two movies from the rental store: THE BREAK UP, and WAR OF THE ROSES. You can see art imitating life. Study these movies and see yourselves portrayed in these movies. Watch and see the mistakes that they have made and that you have made similar mistakes as well. Children are terrified when they hear parents fighting.
When a spouse is angry with you, the first rule is to SHUT UP AND LISTEN. I know that it is hard to do. You need to let them get out everything that bothers them before you counter their arguments. Once they are done, ask to repeat back what they said so that you and the spouse are sure that you understand the problem. Then ask: “In what way can we resolve this problem”? This goes a long way to resolving the problem. Calmly discuss solutions. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” Proverbs 15:1
AGREE TO DISAGREE
Too many times people are locked into winning. The problem with winning is that there is also a loser who will feel humiliated. Better to “agree to disagree”. In this way, neither party feels like they have “lost” the argument.
FLIPPING A COIN
If negotiating has not worked and the person is still adamant that they want a solution the Bible has a solution: “The lot causes contentions to cease and parts the mighty.” Proverbs
Casting lots was a dice game, but a modern day corollary would be a flip of the coin to settle the issue. You both have to agree in advance that this will settle the issue, and then stick to it.
When you are in a discussion where you both have a point of view that you feel strongly about, there is another alternative. You can agree to negotiate the argument for a peaceful settlement. You can do this by adopting a 10 scale. You each assign a numerical value form 1-10 depending on how firmly you believe your side is worth. You have to give an honest evaluation. Using a 10 where there is absolutely no room for negotiation, to a 1 scale where you could go either way. Come up with a legitimate number to assess your position. Suppose your spouse is at a 7 and you are at a 4 then you agree to give in to the spouse’s 7 to make for a peaceful resolution.
SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE
Another good way to resolve the argument is to simply compromise half way between the two points of view. Both parties feel like they got something and don’t feel humiliated.
The Ten Commandments for Fair Fighting
1. Never argue in front of the children, it harms and scares them.
2. Don’t ever hit your spouse.
3. Don’t curse at or call your spouse names, it is abusive.
4. Don’t attempt to get your way by bullying your spouse.
5. Don’t withhold sex to get your way.
6. Do not scream at your spouse it is abusive.
7. Do not interrupt; it is disrespectful, listen until they are done.
8. Do not take revenge for perceived hurts.
9. Develop a peacemaking attitude with questions like: How can we resolve this?
10. Don’t give people the “silent treatment”. It is revenge and it is emotionally abusive.
I have re-written an old nursery rhyme that is more appropriate: Sticks and stones can only break your bones but words can wound a spirit, break a heart or kill a relationship.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man (woman) be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:19
The big problem is that the vast majority of people don’t heed the above scriptural mandate. Most people are doing just the opposite: they are quick to anger, quick to speak and slow to listen. If you can follow the scriptural mandate, you will be amazed at how much better your marriage works.