Conflict Resolution

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
  • 1 Kings 5:4 (He has given rest on every side, neither adversary nor misfortune)
  • Exodus 14:14 (the Lord will fight for you while you keep silent)
  • Psalm 133:1 (Behold how good it is when brothers dwell in unity)
  • Proverbs 16:7 (makes even his enemies be at peace with him)
  • 1 Peter 2:23 (when reviled, Jesus did not revile in return)
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 (peace for those who fix their thoughts on God, trust in the Lord forever)
  • Proverbs 25:15 (with patience a ruler is persuaded; a soft tongue)
  • James 5:16 (prayer of the righteous accomplishes much)
  • 1 John 4:18 (perfect love casts out fear)
    • Has resolving conflict been a problem in your marriage from the start? If not, when did it start becoming a problem? What were things like before? What has changed?
    • What are the most common arguments in your marriage? How long have you been arguing about those particular issues?
    • What have you learned about your spouse from your most common conflicts? Any helpful discoveries? Any difficult ones?
    • Are you ever able to really resolve a conflict—reach a point where you have a workable solution you can both live with?
    • Where do most of your conflicts occur (car, kitchen, bedroom)?
    • When do most of your conflicts occur (a particular time of day, weekends, weeknights, end of the month, holidays, etc.)?
    • If you have children, how does that affect your conflicts?
    • Do you relate to any of these common habits during conflict?
      • Win by overpowering the other
      • Yield in order to keep peace
      • Withdraw to avoid the conflict
      • Compromise by bargaining
      • Resolve through consideration of all sides of the issue
Deeper Questions
    • Do you remember what initially started the conflict?
    • Ask yourself, “What are my real motives in this conflict?”
    • Do your words encourage others to be more or less honest with you?
    • Are you attempting to control this other person?  How do you think they would answer that question about you?
    • Are you willing to let go of the importance of being “right” in this?
    • What desire are you preoccupied with to the point of being unhealthy (e.g. it’s the first thing on your mind in the morning and the last thing on your mind at night)?
    • Are you willing to do the right thing in this conflict even if it means sacrificing something important to you personally?
    • When a certain desire is not being met, do you exhibit frustration, bitterness, anger, or depression?  Have you examined before God what is causing that to rise up within you? (James 4:1-2)
    • What is it that you desire so much that you’re willing to justify hurting or disappointing others in order to have it?
    • Do your words reflect a teachable attitude, or defensiveness?  How would your spouse answer that about you?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • Northwest Family Life  Hope and healing for individuals and families facing the pain of domestic violence
  • Visit Peacemaker Ministries to learn and apply the powerful conflict resolution principles God has given to us through Scripture.
  • - Dennis Rainey, Preparing for Marriage, p. 8

    “No other human relationship can approach the potential for intimacy and oneness than can be found within the context of the marriage commitment. And yet no other relationship can bring with it as many adjustments, difficulties, and even hurts.”

  • - Robert Lewis, Rocking the Roles, p. 212

    “Today, I know a lot of young couples who are frustrated with each other and their marriage because neither partner knows how to correctly relate to the opposite sex. Nobody has ever told them. They are trying to build an intimate relationship, one that’s supposed to last a lifetime, from scratch or, at best, guesswork … These young people don’t realize that behind much of their quarrels and dysfunction and anger is what they don’t know, not who they’re married to.”

  • - Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 243

    “It is inevitable that conflict will arise between the two of you in the future, regardless of what happens to the marriage. The less able the two of you are to resolve your own differences, the more fractured your children will be. Unresolved parental conflict causes children to take sides, a destructive pattern.”

  • - Gary and Barbara Rosberg, Six Secrets to a Lasting Love: Recapturing Your Dream Marriage, p. 70

    “Sometimes—especially when spouses are angry—they clam up and give each other the silent treatment, thinking that the silence will communicate their perspective. Don’t mistake silence for communication. In fact, silence is often only manipulative.”

  • - Tim and Joy Downs, Fight Fair!, p. 29-30

    “Many marital conflicts are about nothing more than who will get the last word or who will get his way. But in marital conflicts, victory is the prize that no one can afford to win … Marriage is the only institution in the world where you can win every battle but lose the war.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 58

    “Our real opponent is not on the opposite side of the bed, but within our hearts. Our enemy is the desires of our flesh that oppose the desire of the Spirit. This is the fiercest and only true enemy of our marriage.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 41

    “Once I know that I am indeed the worst of sinners, then my spouse is no longer my biggest problem—I am. And when I find myself walking in the shoes of the worst of sinners, I will make every effort to grant my spouse the same lavish grace that God has granted me.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 80

    “Mercy sweetens marriage. Where it is absent, two people flog one another over everything from failure to fix the faucet to phone bills. But where it is present, marriage grows sweeter and more delightful, even in the face of challenges, setbacks, and the persistent effects of our remaining sin.”

  • - FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Manual, p. 88

    “The goal of marriage is not to be conflict-free but to handle conflict correctly when it occurs.”

  • - Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families, p. 149

    “Unhappiness within families almost always has the same root problem: unresolved conflict.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Rekindling the Romance, p. 139

    “How did Christ forgive us? By laying down His life. He didn’t wait until we apologized first. He took the initiative to forgive. I should do the same, even when it feels that my husband is clearly in the wrong. Sometimes it’s much easier for me to see only what he did wrong than it is for me to admit my part in the conflict.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 66

    “Scripture does not give me permission to make the sins of my spouse my first priority. I need to slow down, exercise the humility of self-suspicion, and inspect my own heart first.”

  • - Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families, p. 115

    “Peacemaking is a key ingredient in a fulfilling marriage and a happy family (and a guard against divorce.) Marriages bring two sinners into close proximity where their selfish desires rub against each other day after day. Friction increases when God adds ‘little sinners’ to the mix! There is only one way to deal with this volatile mixture: with humble confession, loving confrontation, and genuine forgiveness—the three basic tools of the biblical peacemaker.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 126-127

    “It might seem that life will be easier if we take the timid path of avoiding certain uncomfortable truths or winking at selected sins, but we always reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9). If we sow loving honesty and courageous care, we will reap growth in godliness. If we avoid confrontation, we will just get confrontation anyway, because sin unaddressed is sin unconfined.”

  • - Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families, p. 97

    “God wants us to approach negotiation with love and wisdom. With love for your spouse, you gather relevant information about the dispute and explore creative options, seeking wisdom to find a solution that honors God and benefits both you and your spouse. Such resolution comes through cooperation, not competition.”

  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p. 72

    “According to Scripture, the source of angry words, unforgiving looks, and cold shoulders is not unmet needs. It’s unsatisfied desires.”

  • - Ken Sande, The Peacemaker, p. 25

    “The Bible teaches that we should see conflict neither as an inconvenience nor as an occasion for selfish gain, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate the presence and power of God.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem, p. 276

    “Children need to see a harmonious marriage modeled by their parents. They need to see two imperfect people, who are vessels of God’s perfect love, keep going after they fail.”

Next Steps
    • You are to be commended for seeking wisdom in the area of conflict resolution.
    • Read any of the online articles listed in this guide.  Read the articles first for yourself and choose one or two that seem to apply to your situation. Then let’s discuss this material together.
    • Read any of the scriptures of help and hope in this guide and let’s discuss.
    • Please know that you are not alone, communication problems are the number one cause of marital frustration for many couples.
    • Remember that the goal in marriage is not to be conflict-free but to handle conflict correctly when it occurs
    • Be assured that conflict resolution is a skill that can be learned
    • Please know that even the efforts of only one partner can greatly reduce the conflict in a marriage
    • Consider attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conference
    • Ask for forgiveness for anything you’ve done to offend.  Be the first to extend the olive branch.
    • Remember that you cannot control your spouse, only God can do that.
    • Remember that your spouse is not the enemy.
    • Remember that always avoiding conflict does not make lasting peace and could even prolong the problem.
    • Discover how your spouse responds to conflict differently than you do and adapt to them out of love.
    • Remember that cold indifference is often as destructive as hot anger… and  neither really resolves conflict.
    • Reflect on what cravings or desires in your own heart may underlie this conflict (i.e. peace and quiet, obedient children, respectful co-workers, financial security, a good reputation, etc.)
    • Determine what is more important to you in this case, resolution of the issue or reconciliation of the relationship.  What do you think is more important to God?
    • Think of one thing you can do today to honor God in this situation.
    • Consider your contribution to the conflict and how that has affected the current state of affairs. How could you have responded differently?
    • Even if you were only 2% responsible for the conflict, are you taking 100% of the responsibility for your 2%?  What does that look like?
    • In light of Proverbs 19:11, prayerfully determine if this is an offense that is really worth fighting over or one that could be overlooked.
    • Reflect on where this conflict is leading you if it continues in the direction it is heading right now.
    • Name one thing that you most enjoyed about your relationship today and one thing you were dissatisfied with in your relationship today.  Discuss these with
      your spouse and determine if either of these represents patterns you see
      repeated often.