Solving relationship conflict
Solving Relationship Conflict
by Chaplain Kumar
We are in the middle of “love month.” While some of us are hoping for some chocolate and flowers, we can momentarily forget about the unique challenges we have in relationships. There is one thing we often neglect to discuss in February: Relationships are filled with conflict.
It doesn’t matter if it’s between siblings, spouses, or friends, but there is going to be challenges when you put two people together. We have a long history of conflict found in the Bible, from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and God and Lucifer.
Most often, relationship conflict stems from a balance of power. We are vying for position and trying to outdo the other person so we can feel more important.
God was well of aware of this dynamic so he made sure to inform us how to get along with others through the Ten Commandments. The first four commands are about relating to God. The last six are about getting along with other people.
When Jesus walked on the earth, his own disciples argued about the same issue of power balance. Each of them wanted to be more powerful than the other. The disciples asked, “Who would sit on the favored side of Jesus?” (Luke 9:46). Jesus’ response was revealing. Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest” (9:48).
What are some steps to avoid conflict in our relationships? How can we live in peace and harmony with others?
Watch your mouth
Most of us get into trouble by opening our mouths. We should adopt this phrase, think it but don’t say it. Even though you may be frustrated, it may be best to refrain from what you want to say. Ephesians 4:29 reminds us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
The Psalmist suggests that the words we choose to use should be used to give glory and adoration to God (Psalm 19:1). What if every word that you said was filtered by whether God was being glorified. That just may change the way we speak to others!
Make it a habit to make others first
Have you noticed when you put your turn signal on, the cars behind you will often speed up to fill in the gap, preventing you from switching lanes? Do you do that? We live in a society that fails to make others first. We are competing for first place, rather than helping others to achieve.
James 4:8 tells us to humble ourselves before God. What does that look like in your life? What if you were to put others first in your life? How would that change your relationships? The second part of that Bible verse says that once we humble ourselves, God will then lift us up in (his) honor. We can only achieve the greatest amongst God when we have lowered ourselves among others.
Decide where you are going to draw the line in the sand
My sister gave me some great advice after I was complaining about some trivial things that my wife was doing during our first year of marriage. She told me that her husband had a habit of leaving his clothes scattered around the bedroom. It would irritate her every time she saw his socks on the floor. Finally, she realized that she needed to let those small things go. She said she stopped focusing on the trivial issues and only addressed problems that she couldn’t live with. By using this lense, “Can I live with this?” she was able to quickly find peace with her husband.
Paul wrote some words of advice to Timothy, “But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). If we focus on what is really important like righteousness, faithfulness, love, etc., it would transform our relationships. In other words, bring attention to what is going well in the relationship.
Ask this question: How perfect do you want this person to be?
We often have very high expectations from people who are close to us. We want to them to live up to levels of perfection that are often unattainable. If we were to ask, “How perfect do I want them to be?” we may realize how unfair we are being. First Peter 4:8 gives us fantastic advice: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” If we really love a person, we will be quick to forgive them because we are focusing on their positive attributes instead of their deficiencies.
Kumar Dixit is the WGTS 91.9 Chaplain.