Tempers are rising, nostrils are flaring. You are in an all-out fight. It's World War III in your living room.
Even in the most godly relationships, conflict will arise. Not if, but when it happens, we need to have the steps to deal with conflict in a godly way.
1. Take 10 minutes to cool off
When tempers are rising, it’s best to take 10-15 minutes to cool down and interrupt things if they are getting heated. The last thing you want is to say or do something hurtful out of anger or hurt. It's been during these times un-interrupted rising tempers that we say things that we later deeply regret. Make an agreement with your significant other that you won't allow this kind of thing to happen. Take some time to cool off.
2. Pray individually
During your cool off period, pray by yourself and ask God to help you calm down and understand where the other person is coming from. It may sound cheesy, but God has a way of calming our hearts when we get quiet and come to Him in prayer. During conflict, we like to focus our thoughts on how wrong the other person is and how they need to apologize. There have been many times where I prayed to God and my heart was softened within just a couple of minutes. Ask God to help you see your significant other the way He sees them.
3. Pray together
After praying on your own, come back and pray together. Ask for God’s help in the situation. Each of you take turns asking for help understanding the other person. Praying together and seeking to understand in prayer, will demonstrate your love for one another and further soften your hearts.
4. Put each other first
Seek to understand before you try to get the other person to understand you. This is selflessness in action.
You may feel like you are in the right and the other person is in the wrong, however it does not matter. Seek to understand the other person and apologize for anything that you did that may have hurt their feelings. This will tear down their defensiveness immediately and make it easier for them to apologize in return. After all, what is more important, being heard first or resolving the conflict? Be first to put the other person first.
5. Don’t let the Sun go down on your anger
Well, if you've made it this far, you are doing great. The fact that you are already trying to work things out is wonderful.
In Ephesians 4:26-27 the Bible says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
There is a reason that the verse above mentions “do not give the devil a foothold.” When we don't deal with conflict quickly, the enemy gets in there and multiplies offenses in our minds. We spend a ton of time thinking about how wrong the other person was. Things then get pushed under the rug, and they may or may not, ever get dealt with.
Make it another rule that you will never allow yourselves to go to bed angry. You may end up staying up all night working things out, but it will be worth it.
WARNING: If you apply these 5 steps, it may result in a fruitful, loving relationship that stands the test of time and serves as an example to others. 🙂
What other principles have you applied during conflict? What else has helped you work things out? Let me know in the comments below.
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