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What is conflict? To some people it means battleground & warfare. In Webster’s dictionary, it means disagreement, emotional tension resulting from incompatible minor needs of life. Two partners in a relationship can have conflict & the following are reasons for it:
(a) Different backgrounds. (b) Different upbringing. (c) Emotional uniqueness; we are wired differently. Some are sanguine, choleric, melancholy & phlegmatic. (d) Different likes and dislikes. (e) Sense of independence. (f) Having two self-centered people under the same roof.
Having conflict doesn’t mean one is in the wrong relationship; it means the foregoing factors are there because in GOD’S agenda, opposites always attract. One is cool, the other is rough. If they are the same, the house will be in commotion. How then can conflicts be handled and how can we fight as Christians?
1.Don’t avoid conflict using silent treatment. Some use silence to avoid conflict, control, frustrate & manipulate their spouse. The talker is made to feel useless if the silent one recedes to his shell of silence. How can the silent partner be encouraged to talk?
(a) Let the silent one choose the time to talk. Silence may be a signal of refusal to speak. (b) Listen willingly and don’t judge. (c) Don’t bottle up emotions. Feelings must be expressed and not allowed to accumulate. When something happens, they blow up because up because it had been pent up. Release your emotion as they arise and stop postponing the evil day. Express it in a healthy way. How do you respond when your spouse is angry? Don’t question the reason for the anger or emotional response. Apologize and ask to know the reason for the anger, (Prov. 15:1). (d) Know the best time & place to disagree. Don’t wash your dirty laundry in the open. Don’t quarrel in front of the children & neighbors. Choose where to quarrel, get angry & disagree. (e) Attack the problem not each other. Kick your problem not yourselves. (f) Back up accusations being made with facts.
2. Stay in the present. Complaints that are over 6 months old are not permitted. There should be no nagging (Phil. 3:13).
3. Don’t make reference to relatives & friends.
4. Don’t make reference to your spouse’s appearance. Avoid threats, emotions at that time to avoid manipulation.
5. Keep it honest and clean. Learn to communicate your feelings to your spouse & make it clear. Be specific and avoid generalized statements. Say it gently not in an attacking way. Keep it clean. No need to be vulgar.
6. Stay on the subject. Don’t bring irrelevant & unimportant issues. This requires discipline (Phil. 4:8).
7. Don’t raise your voice or exaggerate; rather watch what you say. If you do this, you put your spouse on defense. Words like ‘you never’, ‘you always’ – should never be used (Eph. 4:15).
8. Be careful about dry remarks, inconvenient jokes. Don’t try to be funny by spiting your spouse. Check how funny it is with yourself before saying it (Eph. 5:4).
9. When you criticize, suggest solutions also. Suggest a clear cut solution at the same time.
10. When you are wrong, admit it & when you are right, shut up! Be humble enough to remember that you may be wrong. When it’s appropriate, ask for forgiveness (James 5:16). Don’t prove your point.

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