Home > communication, conflict, mental health > Resolving Conflict in Relationships (Part One)

Resolving Conflict in Relationships (Part One)

Do you know anyone in a relationship that claims to have no conflict? I used to tell people that when Dana and I were married our first year we did not argue at all. As time passed I realized that we did not argue because we were avoiding conflict and not resolving it at all. Every relationship has conflicts. In some relationships, conflict is a serious problem; in others, differences seem to be resolved without creating a major incident.

In this blog I want to discuss the factors that lead to conflict.

Think about the kinds of conflicts that happen in your daily life. These are typical:
1. Disagreements over who should do what
2. Disagreements over how things should be done
3. Conflicts of personality and style

Nonproductive Ways of Dealing with Conflict

Now that we’ve identified some typical situations where conflict arises in your everyday lives, let’s look at some examples of ways that people deal with them. These are the common ones:
1. Avoid the conflict.
2. Deny the conflict; wait until it goes away.
3. Change the subject.
4. React emotionally: Become aggressive, abusive, hysterical, or frightening.
5. Find someone to blame.
6. Make excuses.
7. Let someone else deal with it.

All of these responses to conflict have one thing in common: They are all nonproductive. All of them are destructive, some physically. This is why learning to manage conflict is so important.

Factors That Affect How People Manage Conflict

The skills involved in managing conflict are learned behaviors. None of us is born knowing how to deal with differences of opinion, arguments, or turf wars. Some of the factors that affect how we behave in the face of conflict are:
1. Behavior learned in families. In some families, conflict and confrontation are a communication style. In others, conflict always remains hidden.
2. Behavior learned from role models. People who have had a teacher or boss who modeled effective conflict resolution skills are more likely to develop these skills themselves.
3. Status. People in higher-status positions usually feel freer to engage in conflict and are less likely to avoid confrontation.
4. Unwritten rules. Some groups encourage conflict; others have unwritten rules that it is to be contained or avoided.
5. Gender differences. Males are generally encouraged to be more confrontational than females.

You can decide on your own where and if you fit into that picture above. The problem is that we as Christians have a higher caller than just simply tolerating each other. We are to be loving, kind, and live in peace. In my next blog I want to discuss some general ways that we can deal with conflict in a healthy Christlike manner.

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