Communication & Conflict

Today, we continued our series on Relationship Goals. Regarding relationships, keep in mind, we don’t fall in love. We commit to love. We choose to show respect, kindness, and forgiveness. We choose to be selfless and to serve. We are better together. We choose to be intentional in our relationships. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”

Last week, Dr. Dave’s message on singleness was so good. Listen and listen twice. It was not just for those who are in a single season. Likewise, if you are in a relationship of any kind, today is also for you. Relationships can be for a short-term such as some friendships or business partnerships but we are focusing on long-term relationships such as serious dating, or marriage. That’s the focus, but these principles can be applied to all relationships. 

Communication is a key factor in relationships. An important thing to take to heart is that God has given you everything you need in the relationships He’s placed you in, most importantly, your spouse. God can and will use your spouse to speak His life into you. The world needs you to be all you can be and God gives you a helpmate in the form of your spouse to accomplish His purposes in your life. God also will teach you perspective through your spouse, fostering empathy and understanding for others in the process. In your communications, to be clear is to be kind. Express yourself thoughtfully and with care, expecting that the other person wants to understand. Always keep the best intentions in mind toward your spouse. They are your helpmate and companion. You are designed and anointed to complete each other and fill in the gaps for each other. 

Things will change but as you mature together in Christ, intentionally working on your relationship, you will find more and more unity. Don’t leave your spouse behind, but bring them along on your journey. Find ways to do life together. Look to your spouse for help in areas of their strength. Maybe finances are not your strong suit but your spouse loves finances and manages them well. Help them in the areas of their needs, whether it is a small task like bathing the kids or a large one like taking care of them when they are ill. Learn to use your strengths for the benefit of the relationship. Share things whether it’s chores, finances, responsibilities or fun thereby truly completing each other. 

For married couples especially, finances are an important area. Finances can be difficult to talk about. Are you arguing and finger pointing? Are you falling into the trap of competing over who gets what? “She went out with friends, so I am going to go out with my friends!” Use regular communication to determine where you are and where you want to go. Don’t wait to talk about finances when you are in conflict over them. Don’t avoid the conversation. Develop a budget and talk about necessary and desired expenditures. Discuss budget and financial goals often. Set a regular weekly meeting to check in and evaluate or even a daily check in. Plan ahead and celebrate spending money for fun things or things you want together! Necessities and fun purchases or activities are both important but they will be true blessings if you share the journey. 

As you talk about finances, make a decision to tithe. Tithing is not a financial issue. It is a trust issue. Do you trust God? As you take a step in faith to tithe, you will realize you can stop praying for provision because God is provision. Scripture is clear. Tithing is God-ordained. He wants to bless, not only you, but others through you. He also wants to protect you and He has designed the tithe to be part of that process. 

Communication of desires and expectations are also valuable in building a relationship. What are ways you can communicate your desires?  Intention is great but, it’s not doing the thing unless you do the thing. If there is something you need the other person to do for you, let them know what you need and when you are hoping it can be done; a deadline if you will. Dream together. Create space where you can assess where you’ve been as a couple and as a family, where you are going, and what you would like to do in the near and far future. Make a list, plan together, then watch it happen. Grow and enjoy the journey together. We have to work on the marriage relationship. Think more and before. Get ready for what God has for you and invite Him into the planning. 

Communication is key but In relationships, conflict is going to happen. You are better together but you are going to have to work through some stuff. There are certain areas that tend to foster conflict in every relationship. The balance of work and family life is one. Be passionate about your work and your life, but know when to focus on your spouse and your relationship. Be intentional about setting boundaries and hold each other accountable. Outside relationships are another area that can impact your marriage. This is another place for good boundaries. Help where you can, then step back. Don’t take conflict home from other areas of life. Find balance. Work at learning how you can grow and get better. The Bible says not to let the sun go down on your wrath. When you’re in conflict, remember there is another entity at work. You are not fighting against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. (Ephesians 6:12). Don’t fight each other. Fight for each other.  

How do you fight fair? Set rules for conflict when you are in a good place and can talk without emotion taking control. These rules could be very defined such as no cursing, no name calling, no intentional hurtfulness, no bringing up the past. Institute a statute of limitations on the things of the past. Those things may even be relevant, but bringing it up won’t help getting you where you’re going. Know what your loved one’s love language is and express love in a way they can receive it. (It may change over the years so assess love languages again if it has been awhile.) If you are triggered by something, give it time. Talk to the Lord about it and invite Him to search your own thoughts and motivations, showing you anything that may need changing in you. Are you being self-centered or emotional? If you do bring up an issue after praying about it, ask if your spouse is in the mindset to discuss something serious. 

Learn to use conflict to get back to communication. What is the point of the argument? Are you trying to prove you are right or are you trying to understand the other person’s perspective? Are you actively listening? As you employ good conflict resolution, your spouse will find it easier to open up and actively communicate their thoughts and desires. You become a safe place for each other. Choose to see the best in each other and believe the best about each other. Keep in mind that what they are saying is their perspective, not that they are automatically wrong or even saying that you are wrong.

When we love, we’re not hurried or fast. Jesus walked slowly and interruptions were opportunities for ministry. Hurry and love are not compatible. Every couple goes through a trial, but God gives the grace for what He’s called you to. You’re anointed to do this relationship and God is faithful to be with you and to keep you. Keep seeking Him. He knows what’s next. It’s about you and your relationship with Jesus first.