How to Resolve a Relationship Conflict and Restore Your Peace

by | Relationship Burnout

When we learn to respond to each other rather than react, we will move much more quickly in our conflict toward resolution and reconciliation. Reactions only stoke the fires of conflict; responses, particularly godly ones, help us snuff out the conflict.” Matt Chandler from The Mingling of Souls 


We love peace. Oh, yes, for sure. After all, the Prince of Peace himself dwells in your core. The peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding, rules your heart. And guards your heart and mind. We love peace.

The LORD is Peace.” Judges 6:24

No wonder relationship conflict always seems to throw us off balance. Out of sync. Even your body will feel out of sorts. Because peace is what you really want. Peace is your home base.

For the longest time in our marriage, when Larry Dale and I were at odds with one another, I would completely lose all semblance of peace. Whoosh! Gone. It was like the conflict held my heart hostage. And my mind? Completely preoccupied. For the love. I tell you, my friend, it was exhausting. And debilitating, like a straight jacket. I couldn’t move forward.

But those days are over! Jesus set me free! And he’ll do the same for you!

Conflict in a Relationship

Conflict in a relationship loves to activate the ego…what the Bible would call the flesh. I like to use ego synonymously because it paints a clearer picture. Anywho, once the ego is activated, it thrives on reacting.

In relationship conflict, the ego feels threatened, and so it kicks into survival mode and, if left unattended, shifts into reacting. You know what I’m talking about. Drama. Drama.

An unchecked ego will start to spiral into reacting. For example, the ego might go into a superior/arrogant mode, which sounds like…

I didn’t do anything wrong!

It’s not my fault!

Or the untamed ego might go into victim mode…

I can’t do anything right.

It’s all my fault. 

For the longest time…I’m talking decades, people. Ugh. When a conflict occurred with Larry Dale (or anyone else for that matter), I always landed in the ego pit of, Victim mode, party of one.

Here’s the thing: victim or superior mode – it doesn’t really matter; both will land you in a slimy pit. Both are equally destructive.

My Favorite Way to Resolve Relationship Conflict

There’s no such thing as conflict avoidance. But there’s a way out of conflict drama! My favorite way, the tool Jesus taught me, starts with a question. What are all the ways I can take responsibility?

Most of us assume conflict is bad. A sign something must be wrong in a relationship. I don’t drink that Kool-Aid any longer. For mercy’s sake, we’re human. And engaging and relating with other humans in a broken world can easily lead to conflict.

But here’s the beauty the Holy Spirit revealed to me – conflict is always an opportunity! An opportunity to learn something new about yourself or the one you love. An opportunity to shift your perspective. To change. To transform.

I believe conflict is rarely one-sided. And so many times, the most important lessons you can learn from a relationship conflict are hidden in the more nuanced subtleties.

And so, as my dear friend Daryl says, Sweep your side of the street.

Ask God, like a curious explorer mining for treasure, What are all the ways I can take responsibility? This is not a thinking exercise where you reason and apply logic. No. This is about connecting with the One who knows you inside and out. Asking the Holy Spirit to download what you are unaware of.

Now, I’m not talking about owning what’s not yours to own. That’s the victim mode. I love this question so much because of how God uses it to divide out what’s mine to own and what’s not mine to own.

When you want to resolve relationship conflict, it’s incredibly illuminating to ask, What’s my responsibility?

How to Resolve a Relationship Conflict

You are a peacemaker, sweet friend. It’s who Jesus is. Therefore peace will be a part of his expression through you.

Now, you can’t control how others choose to react or respond. But internally, you can live free of the conflict angst by asking God, What are all the ways I can take responsibility? Because when you earnestly humbly seek God’s wisdom, you will connect with the One who is peace.

The moment you humbly shift into seeking God’s wisdom, you simultaneously step out of the ego. The ego vanishes the moment you accept a sweet piece of humble pie. What are all the ways I can take responsibility? What’s mine to own? What’s not mine to own?

Remember, your spouse is outside of your control. Your friend. Boss. Child. You can’t control anyone. Ever. How they react and respond is theirs to choose.

But! You can collaborate with Jesus to bring the internal conflict within you to an end.

Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7

Influx of Joy

Full disclosure, this process might not feel like puppy kisses and popsicles. Taking responsibility is humbling. But it can also be oddly exhilarating. Like a feeling of inner spaciousness opens up where once the drama lived.

The Spirit will widen your perspective, giving you a broader view. Slip your tootsies into the other person’s shoes. Illuminate what’s really going on inside of you. And all manner of other beautiful things.

As always, my friend, evolving begins with awareness. So, ask God to cause you to remember! The next time you’re caught in a conflict. And you start to feel that surge of emotion and the urge to react. Ask God to remind you to stop. Take a breath. Take a timeout. And then ask, Okay God, with you, there is always a gift of opportunity inside conflict. I don’t want to miss it. So, what are all the ways I can take responsibility here? What’s mine to own? What’s not mine to own? 

Second Chances Abound

Now, because you’re wonderfully human like me, in the heat of a moment, the presence needed to take a beat might allude you. And that’s okay. We’re in the same shoes, Beloved. We’re learning! And learning takes time and repetition.

So, if you’re wondering how to resolve a relationship conflict when you missed the first chance to take a beat – hope abounds! Let’s say you reacted from the ego. And so did your spouse. It’s now been two days, and you’ve hardly spoken a word. All semblance of peace…whoosh! Gone. Your heart feels held hostage by the conflict. It’s all you can think about. A straight jacket of angst. Zero forward motion. Have no fear. It’s not too late.

Go to your favorite place of stillness. For me, during the day, it’s outside by the lake. Or, at night, I’ll wait until LD has gone to bed and the house is quiet and dark. And then I’ll retreat to my favorite chair. Find your spot. Ask the Lord to quiet your soul. And then, like a curious child, ask your Abba Father, What are all the ways I can take responsibility here? What’s mine to own? What’s not mine to own? Peace awaits.

I’m listening. And would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.

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Thanks for stopping by! Until we meet again, remember – Trusting in Jesus, you’ll have more treasure than pockets. From my heart to yours,

Sandra Adcock Signature