Conflict is inevitable. How you handle conflict…now that is the issue. We need to accept that conflict is a part of our relationships and work through it in a healthy way.

Here are ten steps you can use in resolving conflict.

I have adapted these from the PREPARE/ENRICH Program.

1. Schedule a specific place, date, and time to address the conflict.

The date needs to be scheduled soon. Conflict doesn’t solve itself. You may stuff it and try to ignore it, but it’s still there. I encourage couples to meet in a public place over coffee. There they are forced to speak to each other in a civil manner. Yelling, screaming, and leaving are not part of the ten steps to resolution.

2. Select one important issue you would like to resolve.

This may be the first point of contention, but you have to agree on ONE issue. Conflict resolution is a one-at-a-time exercise.

3. How do each of you contribute to the problem?

Without blaming each other, list the things each of you do that have not helped resolve the problem.

If you can’t think of any contribution you have made to keep the conflict alive, that is a problem. It always takes two to fight.

4. List past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful.

You know the definition of insanity…doing the same things over and over expecting different results. Time to acknowledge what is not working.

5. Brainstorm new ideas.

Find five possible solutions to the problem. Don’t judge or criticize the suggestions of your spouse.

6. Discuss and evaluate each of these solutions.

Be as objective as you can. Talk about how each solution might be useful and appropriate in resolving the issue.

7. Select one solution.

In the spirit of cooperation, select one solution that both of you are willing to try. Make sure there is “buy-in” from both partners.

8. Agree how you will each work toward this solution.

Be as specific as you can. Write down what you will do in order to diminish possible misunderstandings.

9. Set a place, date, and time to discuss progress.

This meeting should take place within 10 days.

10. Acknowledge the efforts of your partner.

Pay attention to each other. When you notice you partner making a positive contribution toward the solution, praise his/her efforts.

Deep areas of conflict don’t imbed themselves overnight…neither will it be solved overnight. Take the time to work the process and solve conflict in a healthy, God-honoring way.