Ending the Crazy Cycle: Part II

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by: Del Fehsenfeld

04/12/2019

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4 Biblical Conflict Resolution Strategies

Once we’ve identified the four marriage killers, we need to adopt biblical strategies to replace them and resolve conflict.

1. Calm down…and come back!

Prov. 29:11 – Only a fool gives full vent to his anger

It’s a biological fact that when in marital conflict, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Remember the “flight or fight” response from high school biology? During marital conflict, your ability to process information, pay attention, and engage creative thinking dramatically decreases. And when under physical duress, it is not a good time to solve marital problems! So DON’T. Take some time to calm down first.

Warning: If you take a break to calm down, make sure you schedule a time to come back and talk things through, or else the break will deteriorate into just another avoidance tactic.

2. Remember the point of the argument.

Eph. 5:28 – He who loves his wife loves himself.

The point of any marital argument is not winning—it’s oneness! Oneness means it is impossible to win if your spouse loses. Your spouse is not the enemy. And getting your way in the immediate problem is secondary to the priority of your relationship quality. How many battles have we won only to find ourselves losing the war for oneness?

3. Soften your approach.

Prov. 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.

Sociological research reveals an astonishing fact of marital conflict: most arguments end exactly like they began. That means the first few sentences in a conflict can virtually determine the outcome. So above all, don’t start with accusations. Start with “I” vs. “You” statements, and remember to seek to understand as much as you seek to be understood.

4. Use your brakes.

Phil. 2:3 – Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Research shows that the average time a spouse spends listening before interjecting an opinion is just seventeen seconds! Never offer your opinion until you are confident your spouse feels you have understood them. And remember, you can prevent disaster if you know how to repair when things have gone off track. When you have hurt your spouse, asking forgiveness and reassuring your spouse of your love and commitment will go a long way toward making space for the repeated attempts needed to put things right.

Of course, no conflict strategies will ultimately cure the brokenness of our sinful hearts. That’s why the primary message of our church is the beautiful life of Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel. Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf is poignantly described in Philippians 2:3-8. Because of his humility, selflessness, servants heart and sacrificial life and death, he overcame evil with good. His free offer of grace and new life to anyone who trusts him makes it possible for us to share his attitudes and actions and stop the insanity of the crazy cycle of conflict.

4 Biblical Conflict Resolution Strategies

Once we’ve identified the four marriage killers, we need to adopt biblical strategies to replace them and resolve conflict.

1. Calm down…and come back!

Prov. 29:11 – Only a fool gives full vent to his anger

It’s a biological fact that when in marital conflict, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Remember the “flight or fight” response from high school biology? During marital conflict, your ability to process information, pay attention, and engage creative thinking dramatically decreases. And when under physical duress, it is not a good time to solve marital problems! So DON’T. Take some time to calm down first.

Warning: If you take a break to calm down, make sure you schedule a time to come back and talk things through, or else the break will deteriorate into just another avoidance tactic.

2. Remember the point of the argument.

Eph. 5:28 – He who loves his wife loves himself.

The point of any marital argument is not winning—it’s oneness! Oneness means it is impossible to win if your spouse loses. Your spouse is not the enemy. And getting your way in the immediate problem is secondary to the priority of your relationship quality. How many battles have we won only to find ourselves losing the war for oneness?

3. Soften your approach.

Prov. 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.

Sociological research reveals an astonishing fact of marital conflict: most arguments end exactly like they began. That means the first few sentences in a conflict can virtually determine the outcome. So above all, don’t start with accusations. Start with “I” vs. “You” statements, and remember to seek to understand as much as you seek to be understood.

4. Use your brakes.

Phil. 2:3 – Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Research shows that the average time a spouse spends listening before interjecting an opinion is just seventeen seconds! Never offer your opinion until you are confident your spouse feels you have understood them. And remember, you can prevent disaster if you know how to repair when things have gone off track. When you have hurt your spouse, asking forgiveness and reassuring your spouse of your love and commitment will go a long way toward making space for the repeated attempts needed to put things right.

Of course, no conflict strategies will ultimately cure the brokenness of our sinful hearts. That’s why the primary message of our church is the beautiful life of Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel. Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf is poignantly described in Philippians 2:3-8. Because of his humility, selflessness, servants heart and sacrificial life and death, he overcame evil with good. His free offer of grace and new life to anyone who trusts him makes it possible for us to share his attitudes and actions and stop the insanity of the crazy cycle of conflict.

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