Kristy wanted a different marriage than her parents- one that was filled with love, joy, and companionship. But when her marriage of 15 years began to unravel, she felt lost and overwhelmed. With the constant drama, complaining, criticism, and conflict, it seemed they couldn’t agree on what mattered the most. Was she doomed to follow in her parent’s footsteps, or could she save her marriage?
The truth is every marriage experience conflict, but with the right approach, it doesn’t need to tear a marriage apart. In fact, resolving conflict with understanding and grace can lead to deeper connection and provide an opportunity to grow closer together.
To begin healing rifts and keep the spark alive in your relationships, it helps to understand the root of the conflict in your marriage. Below are some practical strategies to help you turn your disagreement into connection and create a stronger, more resilient marriage (Matthew 19:6). Let’s get started!
5 Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict in Your Difficult Marriage!
Embrace Open Communication
An essential key to successfully resolving conflict in marriage is practicing open communication. When you disagree with your spouse, express your thoughts and feelings honestly and respectfully rather than resort to criticism or complaint. Silent treatment, defensive communication, and sarcasm create emotional distance and shut down communication. But Open communication fosters understanding between you and your partner and allows for the healthy resolution of conflicts.
Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry. Ephesians 4:26, CEV.
On a practical level, choose the right time when you’re both at your best to discuss your conflict. While expressing your concerns is okay, be mindful not to sin against your spouse (Ephesians 4:26, 1 Peter 3:8-9). Having an attitude that conveys you’re about finding a solution to the problem, not who is right or wrong, creates emotional safety, improves communication, and builds connection with your spouse.
Speak the Truth in Love
Speaking the truth in love means being honest about your feelings while also showing empathy and compassion for your spouse.
Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head. Ephesians 4:15 (CEV).
When addressing your concerns, try to focus on your own emotions and experiences, using “I” statements to avoid blame and defensiveness. This approach encourages understanding and allows you and your spouse to express your feelings without fear of judgment. By speaking the truth in love, you also honor each other and heal your relationship (Colossians 3:10, Proverbs 12:18, Ephesians 4:29).
Emphasize Active Listening
During a disagreement, listening actively to your spouse’s perspective is vital. When your spouse is speaking, don’t interrupt or think about your response. Stay present and absorb what they’re saying. Active listening involves focusing on your partner’s words, asking questions to clarify their thoughts, and reflecting back what you’ve heard.
My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. James 1:19 CEV
You create an environment that fosters empathy and connection by showing your spouse that you’re genuinely interested in understanding their feelings and perspective (Proverbs 1:5).
Say No to Conflict Avoidance
While you may be tempted to sweep disagreements under the rug, avoiding conflict can harm your marriage in the long run. Pride, anger, and selfishness can contribute to conflict avoidance (Proverbs 11:2). Instead, view conflict as an opportunity for growth and closeness.
If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. Matthew 18:15 CEV
By working through disagreements together, you’ll develop problem-solving skills, strengthen the trust between you and your spouse and improve your relationship just as Christ modeled for us (Philippians 2:3-5).
Seek Win-Win Solutions
When facing a conflict, strive to find solutions that benefit both you and your partner. Competition, a need to be right, and an unwillingness to meet your spouse in the middle invalidate their needs and feelings. Win-win solutions require compromise, understanding, and creativity and can ultimately lead to a stronger and more resilient marriage. Love is the foundation for creating a win-win solution to conflict in marriage.
Love is patient and kind, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails! 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 CEV
Working together to resolve conflicts will promote love and trust, deepen your emotional connection, and demonstrate a commitment to your relationship’s well-being.
Thankfully Kristy was able to save her difficult marriage. Through counseling and coaching, she went through a process of understanding the root causes of the conflict in her marriage. Kristy noticed changes in her relationship as she practiced the new skills she learned in coaching. Eventually, both she and Alan were willing to change and adopt new habits. They also embraced the five strategies of open communication, speaking the truth in love, active listening, embracing conflict as a growth opportunity, and working together as a team to restore their relationship.
With prayer, community support, and professional help, Kristy and Alan healed the rifts in their marriage and restored the spark in their relationship.
If you’re in a difficult marriage and you and your spouse struggle to deal with conflicts effectively, consider seeking help from your faith community and professionals. Prayer partners can provide ongoing spiritual support. Marriage counselors and coaches can provide valuable guidance to discover the root of your problems and teach essential communication skills to help you work through disagreements and strengthen your emotional bond.
Conflict is bound to happen in any marriage, but it doesn’t have to damage your relationship. You can create a stronger, more connected marriage by embracing open communication, speaking the truth in love, and using conflict as an opportunity for growth. Remember, the key to success is approaching disagreements with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to work together toward a positive resolution.
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