24 Guidelines for Resolving Conflicts
New Life Ministries
Disagreements are sure to happen in a marriage, but they do not
have to lead to hurtful arguments. Here are some suggestions to
help resolve conflicts with your spouse.
1. Sincerely commit your lives to Jesus Christ
2. Consider the marriage a life-long commitment, just as Christ
is eternally committed to His bride, the Church.
3. Agree to always listen to each other’s feelings, even
if you disagree with the appropriateness of those feelings.
4. Commit yourselves to both honesty and acceptance.
5. Determine to attempt to love each other unconditionally, with
each partner assuming 100 percent of the responsibility for resolving
marital conflicts (the 50/50 concept seldom works).
6. Consider all the factors in a conflict before bringing it
up with your mate.
7. Confess any personal sin in the conflict to Christ before
confronting your mate.
8. Limit the conflict to the here and now – never bring
up past failures, since all past failures should have already
9. Eliminate the following phrases from your vocabulary:
- "You never" or "You always"
- "I can’t" (always substitute "I won’t")
- "I’ll try" (usually means "I’ll make
a half-hearted effort but won’t quite succeed")
- "You should" or "You shouldn’t" (these
are parent-to-child statements).
10. Limit the discussion to the one issue that is the center
of the conflict.
11. Focus on that issue rather than attacking each other.
12. Ask your mate if he would like some time to think about the
conflict before discussing it (but never put it off past bedtime
– see Eph. 4:26).
13. Each mate should use "I feel ..." messages, expressing
his response to whatever words or behavior aroused the conflict.
For example, "I feel angry toward you for coming home late
for supper without calling me first" is an adult-to-adult
message, whereas "You should always call me when you’re
going to be late for supper" is a parent-to-child message.
A parent-to-child message will cause the mate to become defensive.
14. Never say anything derogatory about your mate’s personality.
Proverbs 11:12 tells us that he who despises (belittles) his neighbor
lacks sense (NASB).
15. Even though your mate won’t always be correct, consider
your mate an instrument of God, working in your life. Proverbs
12:1 says, He who hates reproof is stupid (NASB).
16. Never counterattack, even if your mate does not follow these
17. Don’t tell your mate why you think he or she does what
he does (unless he asks you), but rather stick to how you feel
about what he does.
18. Don’t try to read your mate’s mind. If you’re
not sure what he meant by something he said, ask him to clarify
19. Commit yourselves to follow the instructions carefully in
the "Dealing with Anger Biblically" section of this
chapter. This will help you avoid depression, which results in
increased irritability and increased martial conflicts.
20. Be honest about your true emotions, but keep them under control.
Proverbs 29:11 says, A fool always loses his temper, but a wise
man holds it back (NASB). Proverbs 15:18 says, A hot-tempered
man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention
21. Remember that the resolution of the conflict is what is important,
not who wins or loses. If the conflict is resolved, you both win.
You’re on the same team, not opposing, competing teams.
22. Agree with each other on what topics are "out of bounds"
because they are too hurtful or have already been discussed (for
example, in-laws, continued obesity, and so on).
23. Pray about each conflict before discussing it with your mate.
24. Commit yourselves to carefully learn and practice these 24
guidelines for "fighting fair" in marriage and agree
with each other to call "foul" whenever one of you accidentally
or purposefully breaks one of these guidelines. (You may choose
to agree on a dollar fine for each violation!)
Excerpted from "7 Secrets of a Happy Family" by Dr.
Paul Meier and Richard Meier. Used by permission of New Life Ministries.
New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women,
and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit www.newlife.com.
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