We live in a culture that says we are supposed to always be happy in our relationships; that if there is conflict, then it must be time to move on. The reality is that conflict does not mean you are with the wrong person; it means you are two broken people trying to live under the same roof! If you understand that conflict is normal, how will you handle it when it inevitably pops up?
Proverbs tells us to use our words with restraint. Are you quick to lash out with your words? Do you find yourself speaking before you think? In the heat of emotion it can be difficult to pause and think clearly. Are you someone who retreats from conflict? Do you withdraw from the conversation and also your spouse? Rushing into conflict and running from it are two very normal and unhelpful approaches to managing conflict.
So how can we handle conflict more effectively? We should start by acknowledging our normal pattern and striving for a healthier approach. Our goal should not be to win the argument, but to gain a deeper understanding of one another. To understand each other we will need to listen well without rushing in to defend ourselves or rushing off in avoidance. We need to wonder about what gets hooked in us that we get angry. What are my expectations and are they realistic? Exploring our underlying emotions will help us understand each other better. How do you handle disagreements?
Gracious Lord, Teach us how to love each other even in the midst of conflict. Give us a better understanding of one another. Help us to handle conflict in a way that glorifies you.