Closing the Loop in Conflict
by: Michael and Sherry Fuchs
This was written after a group study using material from: Family Life ‘Homebuilder’s’ series. This writing also includes information from other teachings and studies. The bible verses that have referenced here are from: NIV, TLB, NASV, and NKJ.
It is not the conflict that is the problem. The problem is how you handle the conflict. How you handle the conflict is what determines if your relationship with your spouse is ‘God Honoring’ or ‘Not’.
Knowing how to work through conflicts is one aspect, of the marriage relationship, that will help us achieve a God honoring marriage relationship.
Conflicts in Marriage
- Sleeping in the dark or with the light on
- Leaving the window open or closed
- Where to keep the temperature
- How to eat food
- How to blow your nose
- What kind of music to play
- How loud the music is played
- Where clothing is put after it’s taken off
- The proper way to hang toilet paper
- What time to go to bed
- Who makes the bed and how
- Who locks the doors at night
Many couples manage to ignore differences during courtship and engagement. Then after the honeymoon wears off, they sometimes begin to experience conflicts. Suddenly they realize that they may deal with friction in different ways.
What should we do when conflict begins?
Each time a conflict begins an open loop is formed. That loop is closed only when the conflict is resolved. ‘Closing the Loop’ is what we want to see happen.
The Loop Opens
A typical conflict begins with some type of offense— one spouse does something to offend his or her spouse. The spouse is usually hurt by the offense, and that hurt often quickly gives way to anger. When this happens the relationship breaks down.
Remember that God delights in restoring relationships, and it is always better to be reconciled with your spouse than to be right.
The Fork in the Road
At this point in a conflict, you come to a critical fork in the relationship. This is where you need to decide to resolve the conflict or not. Do you close the loop or leave it open?
The first step
We need must choose to ‘Close the Loop’. We need to choose to forgive, and we need to ask for forgiveness.
God has supplied us with everything we need to do, what is best for our marriages, when it comes to conflicts. This is where we need to hear from of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22)
- God gave us a free will and this is where our faith is tested.
- You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature: rather serve one another in love (Gal 5:13)
- Do not repay another with evil for evil …(1 Peter 3:9)
- They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another …(John 13:35)
- Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25)
At this point we need to decide to ‘Close the Loop of Conflict’. This is where we need to ask God for helps. His word gives very clear instructions on what to do.
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said* to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
John 10:10 (Jesus Says,)
The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
We must not give the conflict any opportunity to destroy, or even damage, the relationship between you and your spouse.
The Second step
We need to ask God to prepare our heart.
At the moment we choose to ‘Close the Loop’, God steps in and provides everything we need to complete the task.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
1John 5:14 & 15
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
1 Peter 3:8-9
To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Resolving conflict is only possible when both spouses are willing to be humble and allow God’s will to move in their lives.
You also need to be prepared.
- Pray daily that the Lord prepares you for any conflicts that come up.
- Pray that He gives you a clear mind to walk out His will during times of conflict.
The Third Step
Focus on resolving the conflict in a love.
It’s important to use the components of good communication. For example, focus on listening to your spouse rather than doing all the talking yourself. When you do speak, focus on resolving the conflict in a love. Use words that are gentle, constructive and truthful. Also, be sure to choose the right time and place to discuss the conflict.
He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.
We must choose the fruits of the Spirit, and follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit during our loving confrontation with our mate. Anything else will be damaging to the relationship.
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
When we do not choose to Close the loop in Conflict, and hold an offence against our spouse, and are in sin. (Gal 5: 19-21)
Gal 5: 19-21
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When we are in disagreement with our spouse, or strife resulting from a lack of agreement, it is sin; according to the word of God. The following are the definitions of dissension and discord which both appear in Gal 5:19-21:
The noun DISSENSION has 2 senses:
- disagreement among those expected to cooperate
2. a conflict of people’s opinions or actions or characters
The noun DISCORD has 4 senses:
- lack of agreement or harmony
2. disagreement among those expected to cooperate
3. a harsh mixture of sounds
4. strife resulting from a lack of agreement
The Fourth Step
Ask for forgiveness.
Confront each other and ask for forgiveness. Ask to be forgiven, not for the issue, but for the sin of discord and dissension.
Allow the marriage relationship have priority over the issue.
Confrontation is necessary to resolve conflict, but you must do it with love. You should ask the Holy Spirit to guide you!
This takes practice. Remember, you are responsible to God for your actions in obeying Him. You are not responsible for your spouse actions towards God.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Choose to serve our mate with the loving kindness of the Lord. His Loving kindness is everlasting. (Psalms 106:1)
Forgiveness is vital in closing the loop in a relationship. Without forgiveness you are trapped by anger; and being trapped by anger you will never know the reconciliation of two hearts that once again are tender toward each other. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Forgiveness includes four components:
The first step – We need must choose to ‘Close the Loop’.
The second step – We need to ask God to prepare our heart.
The Third Step – Focus on resolving the conflict in a love.
The Fourth Step – Ask for forgiveness.
Remember it is better to be reconciled than to be right. Jesus went to the cross not to be right, but to be reconciled with His Children.
Both you and your spouse must be willing to:
- Realize that it wrong to have bitterness towards one another.
- Say you are sorry when discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions or factions well up within us, (Gal 5: 19 & 20). This is referred to as sin.
- We need to repent, not wanting to sin against God’. Repentance means: turning from the sin.
- Ask for forgiveness from each other and from God.
Math 5: 23-24
“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
The Fifth Step
Regaining trust with each other.
Forgiveness is the key element in resolving conflict.
Forgiving your mate does not always mean that you will automatically trust them. Sometimes regaining trust takes time. Even when it is hard to trust your mate, you should trust God to work all things out for Good.
They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
… God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. …
This is where our faith is tested. Things do not always go our way, but God’s way is always the best way. Trust God’s with your marriage relationship. Pray for your spouse and entrust them to God.
Remember, that at the point of conflict:
- Choose to ‘Close the Loop’.
- Ask God to prepare our heart.
- Focus on resolving the conflict in a love.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Regaining trust with each other.