Family Conflicts

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Family Conflicts - What Are They?
Family conflicts are as varied as the people involved in them. The turmoil can result from a workaholic husband whose wife feels lonely and resentful toward him (and the job that takes him away from her), or children who are a source of continual family conflict and aggravation due to the parent’s lack of consistent parenting skills, or blended families in which an unaccepted step parent or interfering in-laws are the sources of family conflict. In other homes, couples and families are torn apart by verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.1

If you find yourself in family conflict, be encouraged that there is hope for your situation, whether you are the problem, or someone else is causing the conflict in your home.

Family Conflicts - A Personal Story
Before becoming a Christian, I lived for ten years with an alcoholic who was abusive, verbally and emotionally. I finally had enough of the continual family conflicts and I left him and my sad and empty lifestyle. (I smoked cigarettes and marijuana and was a heavy drinker).

Once I left, I thought in time that my emotional scars would heal but, after getting married, I found they were still raw and painful. It has taken a lot of love, prayer, trust, and patience for my husband and me to resolve the family conflict issues that followed me into our marriage.

Whether only you are searching for solutions to family conflict, or whether your spouse or other family members also want harmony, there are actions you can take immediately to begin changing your own behavior, and your response to the behavior of your spouse and family.

Family Conflicts - Creating Harmony In Your Home
Not only did I bring the pain from life with an alcoholic into my marriage, I discovered that my own selfishness and pride are causes of family conflict (James 4:1-10). In seeking to rid myself of both, God gave me wisdom (James 3:13-18, Colossians 3:16) during my personal Bible studies to see that I was not practicing the biblical strategies listed below.2 I applied them in my relationships with my spouse and family and found them highly effective for conflict resolution when diligently, energetically, and prayerfully practiced.

  • Train yourself to believe the best about your spouse and family (1 Corinthians 13:7). Rather than assuming your husband left his socks on the floor – again -- just to annoy you, remind yourself how hard he worked today, what a good provider he is, and that he probably just forgot to pick them up.

  • Count your blessings (Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:17). Instead of grumbling to yourself about what you lack, remind yourself -- and be thankful -- for all you have.

  • Be helpful, comforting, encouraging, and pleasant around your family (Matthew 7:12, James 3:8-10). If you practice being helpful, offering comfort, giving a word of encouragement, and being courteous and upbeat, you will likely find that your family will begin responding with the same kind of behavior toward you, and each other.

  • Be willing to admit it when you are wrong -- and be willing to apologize (James 1:19-20, Ephesians 4:26-27, Proverbs 29:11). Not only will you mend a rift in your relationship, you will set an example for your spouse, children, and family.

Family Conflicts - Aggressive Steps Toward Breaking the Cycle
If your situation is one of repetitive, severely escalating family conflicts, then you or your spouse may need to explore techniques of anger management or, if children are the cause of the family conflict, learn about anger management for parents. family counseling is an option when you all desire to work as a team to resolve your problems, and if marriage conflict is the difficulty, marriage counseling may be the key to restoration and a rekindling of your love for each other.

Since wisdom from God is the greatest foundation on which we can build lives of love and peace, let’s turn again to the Bible to unlock the heart of family conflict:

“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. . . . When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: . . . hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy . . . But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. . . . Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another” (Galatians 5:16-26).

How Can God Help Me?

1 If you are living in an abusive situation, you should swiftly seek protection and safety from the abuser. God has established authorities (Romans 13:1-5) -- police, judges, and courts -- to protect you and your family from abuse. Not only is your safety important to God, He made it the responsibility of law enforcement officials to protect you, and those you love, and punish the abuser.

2 Another principle for conflict resolution is to remove the word “but” from your vocabulary. When you say it, you cancel out everything before the “but.” You also cancel an apology on your part when you state a reason -- after the “but” -- for doing whatever you did. For example: “I’m sorry for yelling but if you weren’t so aggravating I wouldn’t have to yell.” In this instance, the key is to apologize for your own behavior, rather than coupling your apology -- and crippling it -- with an accusation.


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