Session 4: Resolving Conflict

Session 4: Resolving Conflict

Healthy conflict resolution happens when we’re willing to communicate — and then thoughtfully seek and grant forgiveness.

In this last session, we’ll explore the tools needed to grow

your marriage through conflict.

Major Points:

  • Rebuilding trust is not automatic. It takes time, patience and grace from God.
  • We have a responsibility to lovingly confront our spouses when issues are undermining the relationship.
  • The Bible offers healthy patterns to follow in seeking and granting forgiveness.
  • A healthy marriage is the union of two great forgivers.

When conflict needs to be communicated, it is best to:


one issue vs.many issues

the problem vs.the person

behavior vs. character

specifics vs. generalizations

facts vs.judgment of motives

“I” statements vs.“you” statements

understanding vs. who’s winning or losing

Which of these contrasts could offer the most needed perspective in your conflicts?

Seeking Forgiveness

God models forgiveness for us and beckons us to seek and grant that forgiveness over and over:  “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God is Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Steps to seeking forgiveness:

  1. Be specific, addressing everyone you affected without excusing your behavior: “I’m sorry for ______________________.” Admit your heart-attitudes and the destructive behavior itself.
  2. Repent, seeking to change your behavior, and recognizing the other person’s hurt: “I was wrong and don’t want to do that again.”
  3. Ask for forgiveness: “Will you forgive me for what I’ve done?”
  4. Examine how you can make restitution for what you’ve done, if it’s needed.

Granting Forgiveness

True forgiveness doesn’t pretend that something didn’t happen. It’s not an automatic cure for the hurt, or dependent on the other person’s change.

Forgiveness is a choice, truly setting your spouse free from the “debt” of the offense and releasing your spouse from revenge or resentment (though not always consequences, like in cases of severe breaches of trust).

It’s the first step toward rebuilding trust. And it’s an act of obedience to God.

Steps to granting forgiveness:

  1. Do it privately: “Father, I forgive _________ for hurting me.”
  2. Do it personally and specifically: Go to your spouse and be specific. “I forgive you for  ________________.”
  3. Do it graciously: Keep the bigger goal of a unified, healed relationship in mind, communicating your desire to do good to your spouse rather than harm them.
  4. Do it generously: Acknowledge your own failings — “I’ve done things like this myself.”

Questions to Consider:

  1. Which of the following statements are you more likely to use? (Circle the response that applies for each grouping)
    • “You never…!”  – OR –  “I don’t feel like you…”
    • “You never….”  – OR –  “I could really use your help with…”
    • “Would you stop being such a…?”  – OR –  “Could you help me by…?”
    • “Why do you always…?”  – OR –  “I feel __ when you…”
  2. Are there any other ways you need to seek forgiveness from your spouse?
  3. Describe the differences in how you’ve handled conflict in the past and how you want to handle it in the future.
  4. Pray together, asking God to guide the way you handle conflict — in His ways of mercy, grace, love, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Further Study: