There are many facets of conflict resolution that we could look at, but I’ve selected three rules of combat to discuss that I think are particularly applicable to the marriage relationship. Before we look at these, however, we need to stop a moment and examine the true source of all marital discord—pride. It is the root of all ungodly behavior, including those negative actions that sometimes manifest in the conflicts that arise between those who have entered into the most sacred of covenants. That’s why it’s so important to remember this first major point:
Wounded pride is the root of most marital discord.
I once heard a preacher say, “You can’t be humbled if you already are.” That’s a true statement, to be sure. We all know Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (NKJV). Pride is the root cause of most problems and issues, so if we can learn how to crucify it before it rears its ugly head in our marital relationship, we will be well on the way to discovering the secret of marital bliss and harmony.
We have visited the subject of male-female differences throughout our chapters, but we also need to mention differences in personality types as well. Not everyone handles life the same way, and since life includes conflict, not everyone handles conflict the same way. But the goal does not change, even as personality types seek to learn how to communicate more effectively with each other. Be humble, and resolve conflicts quickly and reasonably.
Someone once said that a woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument! You may laugh at that, but we all want to get in the last word in an argument. But the problem is, two people both having to have the last word turns a conflict into a never-ending story and inevitably leads to one person saying hurtful things that provoke the other person to counter with even more hurtful things. When emotions take over and dictate the course of the conversation, we are soon locked and loaded in the “ready, fire, aim” mode of communication. We are “ready” with emotional responses because we have to “fire” back with the “aim” of self-defense instead of sound conflict resolution. When feelings are hurt, self-control often flies out the window. If men and women would only learn how to communicate instead of retaliate, much of this could be avoided.
When you’re facing a situation where your pride has been hurt, the first thing to remember is that pride is a characteristic of the flesh, never an attribute of the Spirit of God. When your pride is wounded, stop and take note that you are exhibiting the first symptom of getting into the flesh. Then do something spiritual in order to combat the desire of the flesh.
Answer this question honestly: have you ever stopped to pray in the middle of a conflict? I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to stay “fleshy” when you are conversing with the creator of the universe. We have all heard the adage “fail to plan and you have planned to fail.” With that in mind, I have often counseled couples to sit down and formulate a written strategy for conflict resolution, especially when this area has been a struggle for them. I’d like to encourage you to do that too.
Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.