5 Lies about Conflict

lightning 

I’ve never really liked conflict. But I’ve also embraced certain lies about conflict in my past that have colored the way I feel about conflict. Now that God has revealed the truth to me about these lies, I have a better understanding about conflict. Allow me to share 5 Lies about Conflict

1.  Conflict should be avoided.

This was my mantra early on in my marriage. If it felt tense between my husband and me, I ducked and ran for cover. However, God has shown me that conflict can prove to be a good thing in a marriage when handled in a right way with a right and humble spirit.

2.  Conflict leads to arguing.

In the past, I often felt like arguing was my only option in a conflict. But it really wasn’t and isn’t. I always have a choice to refrain, not with a defiant refusal, but with a respectful and gracious attitude toward my spouse.

If I ask for God’s calming peace to rule in my heart, even before but especially during a conflict, I am able to refrain from arguing. And since arguing often leads to “misunderstanding” and a tug-of-war between my will and my spouse’s will, it’s not the way God wants me to handle conflict. Sadly, though, conflict has become synonymous with arguing in a lot of households, but it doesn’t have to be!*

3.  Conflict leads to misunderstanding.

As I mentioned above, arguing, not conflict is what often leads to misunderstanding. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes we shut down when a conflict arises and misunderstanding prevails. But neither of those extremes has to be the way we deal with conflict. Conflict, when handled in a right spirit, can pave the way to greater understanding! It can open up areas that have long gone hidden or ignored in a marriage.

4.  Conflict is evidence that something’s wrong with your marriage and/or your spouse.

This is one that really pulled me down into the “pit.” Satan wanted me to believe that something was wrong with my marriage or even worse, with my spouse, because we had conflict. Don’t take Satan’s bait on this one! Conflict is a natural and inescapable result of living with another flawed and sinful human being. We will inevitably rub each other wrong from time to time. If we aren’t, then one of us is lying to him/her self.

5.  Conflict is not a godly response or healthy function in marriage.

I really swallowed this lie big time. I thought I wasn’t being a godly wife if a conflict arose. I felt that if my husband was doing something hurtful, I should tolerate him and his action. But all I was doing was suppressing my emotions and not facing the truth with him as my partner. Learning to work through our conflicts in a healthy way has become an extremely important part of our bonding as a couple.

What about you? Which of these lies have you fallen prey to?

What have you learned about your mate or marriage that you wouldn’t have without the clarity conflict can bring?

“If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, not slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter …” –Prov. 6:2-5a

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. –Ephesians 4:26-27

*If you are unable to face conflict without it degenerating into an argument, then you probably need to seek the help of a good Christian counselor or life-coach. Click here to read more about my Communication Skills coaching program.

Photo by fdecomite

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  • Thanks, Beth, for dismantling some lies that have really derailed so many of us along the way.
    I do believe the misunderstanding of biblical submission has tragically shut down many women, preventing them from speaking truth in love, and has driven what could have been beneficial conflict, underground. The sad results? A festering, unhealthy, damaging woundedness that does nothing but erode trust, authenticity, and true love.
    Whew … got on my soapbox, girl!

    • You’re probably right that “submission” has been misunderstood and misapplied, adding to the problem here, Linda. I’ve not thought about that, but I agree. I love it when you get all “fired up” too, so don’t apologize! I’m glad you found this to be helpful. I was a bit nervous about the reception I might get–not from you, of course, but others who might question my stance on this. Thanks so much for encouraging me week after week!

  • Thanks, Beth, for dismantling some lies that have really derailed so many of us along the way.
    I do believe the misunderstanding of biblical submission has tragically shut down many women, preventing them from speaking truth in love, and has driven what could have been beneficial conflict, underground. The sad results? A festering, unhealthy, damaging woundedness that does nothing but erode trust, authenticity, and true love.
    Whew … got on my soapbox, girl!

  • rboerner

    I would have to say ALL OF THEM! My hubby and I are working hard to deal with the conflicts by listening to each other, respecting what is said and responding by our actions(in love) rather than diving into an argument or discussion on what or who is right/wrong. Not easy! Thanks for this!

    • Yes, you and I have a lot in common on this front, Becky. And I’m so glad I have a “sister” in the “fight” to deepen our marriages–learning to surrender to God together. Thanks so much for stopping by. It means a lot to see you here, sweet friend!

  • rboerner

    I would have to say ALL OF THEM! My hubby and I are working hard to deal with the conflicts by listening to each other, respecting what is said and responding by our actions(in love) rather than diving into an argument or discussion on what or who is right/wrong. Not easy! Thanks for this!

  • Oh goodness, I just struggle with conflict in general! That has to be one of the most difficult things in marriage, because I am so used to not discussing things that could possibly cause conflict. I definitely need to remember that most of my aversion to conflict is based in lies. Thanks for the post and for hosting the link up! 🙂

    • It IS a difficult area of marriage, Maurie. I probably should have addressed that, but maybe that’s a topic for another post! 🙂 Thanks so much for being real and authentic about your struggles. It means a lot to me to know that this helps you “declutter” your thinking on the topic. I hope it helps!

  • Maurie Roselaine

    Oh goodness, I just struggle with conflict in general! That has to be one of the most difficult things in marriage, because I am so used to not discussing things that could possibly cause conflict. I definitely need to remember that most of my aversion to conflict is based in lies. Thanks for the post and for hosting the link up! 🙂

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    I want to go as far as to say that you do not ave a healthy marriage when there isn’t conflict! I hear your heart for I believed these lies as well. I was even taught in church that I have a Jezebl spirit if I didn’t submit to my husband and obeyed him in all things. When I became to ill to look after myself, not to mention them, I realized that these lies are straight from the power-hungry father of all lies. It amazes me what humans would do to have power over another. If they an do it in Jesus’ name, so much the better. Great post, thanks.
    Much love
    Mia

    • Yes, yes, yes! I hear it occasionally at other blogs–the idea that conflict should be avoided. I’m all for being patient and dying to my selfish agenda, but not to cut conflict out altogether! It’s part of the intimacy process I think. God wants us to wrestle with knowing our mates better and to knowing His ways better. It’s the commitment to “good times AND bad” that really strengthens our marriages. We often want to cut out that last part! ha!

      I’m glad you were able to work through to a better relationship with your husband and kids when you faced a “conflict” with your illness. I’m still trying to figure some things out there in my own life and family. Thanks, sweet Mia, for coming by and encouraging me!

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    i LOVE this!!! Why do we think that we won’t encounter conflict in marriage? We’ve got conflict with our parents, kids, co workers, friends, church family…heck, sometimes we’ve got conflict with the checker at Walmart. But we don’t think we’ll have conflict with the person we have promised to do life with? It’s crazy, isn’t it?

    We strongly believe that as long as you’re breathing, there is hope. We equally believe that as long as you’re breathing, you’ll have conflict!!

    Thanks for sharing, Beth! We love linking up here at Messy Marriage. 🙂

    • I think one of the reasons we feel conflict is bad is because we feel “bad” in times of conflict. But we can’t live by our feelings, can we, Sherry?! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic endorsement, sweet friend. I appreciate it and you!

  • i LOVE this!!! Why do we think that we won’t encounter conflict in marriage? We’ve got conflict with our parents, kids, co workers, friends, church family…heck, sometimes we’ve got conflict with the checker at Walmart. But we don’t think we’ll have conflict with the person we have promised to do life with? It’s crazy, isn’t it?

    We strongly believe that as long as you’re breathing, there is hope. We equally believe that as long as you’re breathing, you’ll have conflict!!

    Thanks for sharing, Beth! We love linking up here at Messy Marriage. 🙂

  • Nice post Beth. It is great that you note the difference between conflict and being argumentative. Conflict is the healthy product of differentiation in a relationship, holding onto your self while loving another. Great points.

    • Yes, “holding on to self” is so crucial and so difficult for many. I don’t think they even realize that they need to do that or how to do it. But conflict certainly can help to strengthen those individuation muscles, if we will trust God to help us stand strong in His truth and grace. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Scott. You encourage me!

  • Nice post Beth. It is great that you note the difference between conflict and being argumentative. Conflict is the healthy product of differentiation in a relationship, holding onto your self while loving another. Great points.

  • Conflict happens every day. No one can avoid it — as you mention, a person can pretend to not feel bothered, but that is lying to oneself, and that isn’t healthy.

    I avoided. I still do avoid from time to time, mainly because rather than discuss, we easily tip into arguing a point or a side.

    When we remember to discuss rationally and in a mannerly way, things roll so smoothly.

    HUMANS! 🙂

    • Yes, avoiding is my “gut reaction” many times to conflict. But I’ve learned to not go with my gut (as much) and follow God instead. It’s a hard lesson to internalize, but it really makes all the difference, Amy! Thanks so much for weighing in and being a sweet bloggy friend!

  • Conflict happens every day. No one can avoid it — as you mention, a person can pretend to not feel bothered, but that is lying to oneself, and that isn’t healthy.

    I avoided. I still do avoid from time to time, mainly because rather than discuss, we easily tip into arguing a point or a side.

    When we remember to discuss rationally and in a mannerly way, things roll so smoothly.

    HUMANS! 🙂

  • #1, 4 and 5 remind me of a time in my courtship when i approached a married lady i really respected and asked her if she and her husband ever had conflict and how they resolved it. My fiance (now husband) and I were having tonnes of arguments and misunderstandings and i wanted to know if we were normal and how to go about resolving things.

    The sweet lady told me that she and her husband never had conflict.

    And that set an unconscious tone in the back of my mind – conflict is abnormal, our relationship was different and unhealthy, we were not good Christians e.t.c.
    Took a while to begin to shed off these mentalities.
    I am still a work in progress esp on 2 and 3 – it helps to know the truth and works towards it.
    These are great truths Beth, thanks so much for sharing.

    • Yes, I’ve heard it from others too–people that I’ve really admired buy into this lie. I personally think that not only have they suppressed conflicts and emotions, but some couples just happen to have a blend of personalities that don’t “get ruffled” as often. I don’t think that makes them more spiritual or self-controlled, just easier going. And in the marriages that have boasted of such a claim, I’ve also seen problems that continue to plague them but no one is willing to address it. Sad!

      Thanks so much for always bringing such sweet encouragement my way, Ngina! I really wish we could meet in person sometime. Maybe at a blogging conference sometime in the future, God willing! 🙂

      • oh wouldn’t that be so awesome! Certainly in future, God willing!

  • #1, 4 and 5 remind me of a time in my courtship when i approached a married lady i really respected and asked her if she and her husband ever had conflict and how they resolved it. My fiance (now husband) and I were having tonnes of arguments and misunderstandings and i wanted to know if we were normal and how to go about resolving things.

    The sweet lady told me that she and her husband never had conflict.

    And that set an unconscious tone in the back of my mind – conflict is abnormal, our relationship was different and unhealthy, we were not good Christians e.t.c.
    Took a while to begin to shed off these mentalities.
    I am still a work in progress esp on 2 and 3 – it helps to know the truth and works towards it.
    These are great truths Beth, thanks so much for sharing.

  • Great topic, Beth! Thank you for spelling this out for us. I also used to think that conflict meant something was “wrong” with my relationship, but I’ve learned the hard way that facing and resolving conflict respectfully really does make a marriage stronger. So now I raise my eyebrows a little bit when I hear people say, “Oh, we never fight!” Really? Maybe you should try it sometime. 🙂 Always fun (and convicting) to read your posts!

    • You and me both–raising our eyebrows! ha! How funny that you should be like me in that way. No wonder I like you so much, girlfriend! I’m so glad you came by to encourage me again. Love having you at the WW linkup!

  • Great topic, Beth! Thank you for spelling this out for us. I also used to think that conflict meant something was “wrong” with my relationship, but I’ve learned the hard way that facing and resolving conflict respectfully really does make a marriage stronger. So now I raise my eyebrows a little bit when I hear people say, “Oh, we never fight!” Really? Maybe you should try it sometime. 🙂 Always fun (and convicting) to read your posts!

  • Heather C.

    Great post! Conflict is very important and very healthy if done constructively.

    • Thanks, Heather. Yes, it’s something I feel passionately about because it used to plague my marriage so much. I’m grateful for what God has taught me through the “school of hard knocks!” But as you’ve said, the secret is being constructive and for each other! 🙂

  • Heather C.

    Great post! Conflict is very important and very healthy if done constructively.

  • Alecia

    This is really good! And so important to remember…especially #4, I think. Every healthy relationship has differences, conflicts, and disagreements. What matters more is how we work our way through them and resolve them.

    • Yes, Alecia! It really can make all the difference in our marriages, if we allow ourselves to honestly look at the conflict and trust God to guide us through the “untangling” of it all. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, sweet friend. So glad to see you in the line up!

  • Alecia

    This is really good! And so important to remember…especially #4, I think. Every healthy relationship has differences, conflicts, and disagreements. What matters more is how we work our way through them and resolve them.

  • You’re probably right that “submission” has been misunderstood and misapplied, adding to the problem here, Linda. I’ve not thought about that, but I agree. I love it when you get all “fired up” too, so don’t apologize! I’m glad you found this to be helpful. I was a bit nervous about the reception I might get–not from you, of course, but others who might question my stance on this. Thanks so much for encouraging me week after week!

  • Yes, you and I have a lot in common on this front, Becky. And I’m so glad I have a “sister” in the “fight” to deepen our marriages–learning to surrender to God together. Thanks so much for stopping by. It means a lot to see you here, sweet friend!

  • It IS a difficult area of marriage, Maurie. I probably should have addressed that, but maybe that’s a topic for another post! 🙂 Thanks so much for being real and authentic about your struggles. It means a lot to me to know that this helps you “declutter” your thinking on the topic. I hope it helps!

  • Yes, yes, yes! I hear it occasionally at other blogs–the idea that conflict should be avoided. I’m all for being patient and dying to my selfish agenda, but not to cut conflict out altogether! It’s part of the intimacy process I think. God wants us to wrestle with knowing our mates better and to knowing His ways better. It’s the commitment to “good times AND bad” that really strengthens our marriages. We often want to cut out that last part! ha!

    I’m glad you were able to work through to a better relationship with your husband and kids when you faced a “conflict” with your illness. I’m still trying to figure some things out there in my own life and family. Thanks, sweet Mia, for coming by and encouraging me!

  • I think one of the reasons we feel conflict is bad is because we feel “bad” in times of conflict. But we can’t live by our feelings, can we, Sherry?! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic endorsement, sweet friend. I appreciate it and you!

  • Yes, “holding on to self” is so crucial and so difficult for many. I don’t think they even realize that they need to do that or how to do it. But conflict certainly can help to strengthen those individuation muscles, if we will trust God to help us stand strong in His truth and grace. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Scott. You encourage me!

  • Yes, avoiding is my “gut reaction” many times to conflict. But I’ve learned to not go with my gut (as much) and follow God instead. It’s a hard lesson to internalize, but it really makes all the difference, Amy! Thanks so much for weighing in and being a sweet bloggy friend!

  • Yes, I’ve heard it from others too–people that I’ve really admired buy into this lie. I personally think that not only have they suppressed conflicts and emotions, but some couples just happen to have a blend of personalities that don’t “get ruffled” as often. I don’t think that makes them more spiritual or self-controlled, just easier going. And in the marriages that have boasted of such a claim, I’ve also seen problems that continue to plague them but no one is willing to address it. Sad!

    Thanks so much for always bringing such sweet encouragement my way, Ngina! I really wish we could meet in person sometime. Maybe at a blogging conference sometime in the future, God willing! 🙂

  • You and me both–raising our eyebrows! ha! How funny that you should be like me in that way. No wonder I like you so much, girlfriend! I’m so glad you came by to encourage me again. Love having you at the WW linkup!

  • Thanks, Heather. Yes, it’s something I feel passionately about because it used to plague my marriage so much. I’m grateful for what God has taught me through the “school of hard knocks!” But as you’ve said, the secret is being constructive and for each other! 🙂

  • Yes, Alecia! It really can make all the difference in our marriages, if we allow ourselves to honestly look at the conflict and trust God to guide us through the “untangling” of it all. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, sweet friend. So glad to see you in the line up!

  • Melinda (Auntie Em)

    I love this! It took many years for my husband to learn that you had to deal with conflict– that just because you don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it’s not there!
    Thanks for a great post!

    • Haha! Yes, I’ve been there–trying to wish my conflicts away, Melinda! I’m so glad we wised up and used conflict to deepen our marriages. 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet words and always love having you in the line up!

  • Melinda (Auntie Em)

    I love this! It took many years for my husband to learn that you had to deal with conflict– that just because you don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it’s not there!
    Thanks for a great post!

  • OutnumberedMom

    Hmm…my toes are sore. I tend to duck and run for cover, too, in the face of conflict. Such an insightful post, Beth. I love how you pointed out that conflict is inevitable and must be dealt with. Thanks!

    • Ah, so we are two of a kind, right, Laura Lee? We’re professional “duck and runners.” 🙂 But there’s so much rich soil to be tilled when we face the conflicts of life and marriage. I know you’d agree there, my friend. Thanks for your sweet encouragement!

  • OutnumberedMom

    Hmm…my toes are sore. I tend to duck and run for cover, too, in the face of conflict. Such an insightful post, Beth. I love how you pointed out that conflict is inevitable and must be dealt with. Thanks!

  • OutnumberedMom

    I linked up today! I’m a little late, but I got it done. :0)

  • OutnumberedMom

    I linked up today! I’m a little late, but I got it done. :0)

  • A great message that needs to be shared again and again, Beth. I really, really, really, dislike conflict, mostly because of working for some people who use it to abuse others.

    However, sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye with our spouse, so it arises. As you so wisely note, “Conflict, when handled in a right spirit, can pave the way to greater understanding.” I know that has been true in our marriage. Thanks as always for being a beacon for stronger marriages!

    • I know that conflict can really bring up painful memories or painful realities for many in the throws of unhealthy conflicts. I am praying that God would heal your wounded heart, Kim. And I’m so grateful that you and your hubby learned to use conflict wisely–to ferret out the troubles we all get snagged on in life. BTW, Your encouragement and presence here means more than you’ll know!

  • A great message that needs to be shared again and again, Beth. I really, really, really, dislike conflict, mostly because of working for some people who use it to abuse others.

    However, sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye with our spouse, so it arises. As you so wisely note, “Conflict, when handled in a right spirit, can pave the way to greater understanding.” I know that has been true in our marriage. Thanks as always for being a beacon for stronger marriages!

  • Haha! Yes, I’ve been there–trying to wish my conflicts away, Melinda! I’m so glad we wised up and used conflict to deepen our marriages. 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet words and always love having you in the line up!

  • Ah, so we are two of a kind, right, Laura Lee? We’re professional “duck and runners.” 🙂 But there’s so much rich soil to be tilled when we face the conflicts of life and marriage. I know you’d agree there, my friend. Thanks for your sweet encouragement!

  • So glad you did!

  • I know that conflict can really bring up painful memories or painful realities for many in the throws of unhealthy conflicts. I am praying that God would heal your wounded heart, Kim. And I’m so grateful that you and your hubby learned to use conflict wisely–to ferret out the troubles we all get snagged on in life. BTW, Your encouragement and presence here means more than you’ll know!

  • Lisa

    It’s is an interesting take on conflict, Beth. We so often get discouraged because we think that, since we have conflict sometimes, we must have a bad marriage, but that’s just another lie.

    Excellent points! It makes my squirrels run faster, for sure!

    Lisa
    http://Www.thecourageousjourney.com

  • Lisa

    It’s is an interesting take on conflict, Beth. We so often get discouraged because we think that, since we have conflict sometimes, we must have a bad marriage, but that’s just another lie.

    Excellent points! It makes my squirrels run faster, for sure!

    Lisa
    http://Www.thecourageousjourney.com

  • oh wouldn’t that be so awesome! Certainly in future, God willing!