Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Steps to Conflict Resolution

Luke 15:20 And [the prodigal son] arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

What joy there was that day! The lost, wasteful son turned toward home, and his father ran to greet, embrace and reinstate him. Think of all that our gracious God has done to resolve conflict with us, even though the cause of the conflict was our own sin! It was for this purpose that Jesus Christ, the spotless lamb, went to the cross, to reconcile us to God (Rom 5:6-11).

So why is it so hard for us to resolve conflicts among ourselves? What ideas and steps might help husbands and wives, and estranged friends, come back together again?

The following recommendations for conflict resolution are not completely original. In fact, I may have collected them from several sources and edited them as I thought best. Perhaps others will find these approaches useful.

To resolve conflict:

1.    Select one important issue. Decide what the conflict really is. Get beneath outward symptoms to root causes. State the matter as objectively and fairly as possible, in terms that both of you can accept. Not, “You are lazy or selfish!” but, “We are not taking care of this house or our money as we need to.”

2.    Decide how important the conflict is in relative terms. How does it compare to other conflicts you have had or might have on a 1-10 scale? How much of a threat does it pose to your relationship? Is the battle worth the possible cost and damage? What will result if you take no action at this time?

3.    Ask yourself: “What would God want to be the outcome of this conflict? What would Satan want?” Pray that God will work on your heart and your spouse’s heart and that He will protect you from Satan’s attempts to hurt your marriage through this conflict.

4.    Decide that the conflict will be resolved.

5.    Schedule a meeting. Set a time and place without distractions.

6.    Begin with the areas in which you agree. Your family values, your priorities, your beliefs. Start at the top and work your way down. Pleasing God … doing what Jesus would do … serving each other … making your marriage last a lifetime … raising your children to make Christ-centered choices …

7.    List the ways you each have contributed to the problem. Take turns listening and talking. Do not interrupt. Paraphrase each other’s point of view.

8.    List past failed efforts to resolve the issue.

9.    Brainstorm.  Together pool ideas and propose five possible solutions.

10. Discuss and evaluate each approach. Look for a win/win approach.

11. Select one solution that you both agree to try. Give your spouse the opportunity to choose first. If his or her approach is not effective, you will get to try yours.

12. Agree how you each will work toward this solution. Share responsibility.

13. Schedule a meeting within the next week to discuss your progress.

14. Pay attention to each other during the week.  Praise every contribution that your partner makes toward the solution. Put your spouse’s direction above his or her perfection or distance covered.

15. Seek help from a mutual friend, spiritual leader, or professional counselor.