Resolving every argument with your spouse may seem impossible at first thought. However, by doing five important things, you not only can improve your ability to resolve conflicts, but can also decrease the emotional injuries as well.
Since conflict is a normal part of any relationship, learning how to resolve them without emotional injury is crucial.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Four Ways To Resolve Conflicts Without Emotional Injury
1. Take a time-out!
For many couples an argument is a time of heightened emotions. Because it can be difficult to think clearly, physically distancing yourself can help your emotions to settle. However, never leave without giving an explanation or without agreeing to resume the discussion at some later time.
2. Communicate to uncover hidden needs.
Erin and I would not have resolved our disagreement without having made a transition from intense conflict to some type of useful communication. In other words, we needed to get past the arguing and selfishness towards some productive dialog. The best way to do this is found in James 1:19. “…But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Begin your communication with the mind set of listening and understanding one another. As you attempt to clarify the conflict, repeat, using your own words, your mate’s position. Actively listen and understand what your mate is saying. In turn, this slows down the process and allows each person to feel heard and understood.
After the conversation has shifted to slow speech and quick listening, try to uncover any hidden needs.
Addressing those hidden needs was essential as we moved toward a solution. As you attempt to uncover such needs, it can be helpful to ask questions like, “What is really going on?” or “What must change or happen to meet your needs?”
3. Create a “win-win” solution.
Once your emotions have settled and constructive communication exists, the third step in resolving conflicts is to find a “win-win” solution. This doesn’t necessarily mean compromising. Sometimes compromising creates a quick-fix solution where no one is pleased with the outcome. Furthermore, important issues may be overlooked. Instead, in a “win-win” situation, needs are met on both sides.Win-win solutions can be created in a variety of different ways. Techniques like “brainstorming” and “pros vs. cons” lists work great.
After a “win-win” solution is found, the resolution process isn’t complete until you’ve made sure that forgiveness has taken place. This step is so crucial because emotional injury can occur when resentment or anger continues after the conflict has ended. Although feelings may be hurt once the argument has finished, it’s important not to let the sun go down on your anger (See Ephesians. 4:26). Therefore, try to identify your own contribution to the problem and seek forgiveness.
When All Else Fails …
If after unsuccessful attempts have been made to solve a conflict, or if you are exhausted from the physical as well as emotional strain, it might be time to find a person (e.g., counselor or pastor) who can intercede and help bring about reconciliation. Remember: “The way of a fool is right in his won eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15)