Relationship conflicts are inevitable. Everyone gets into disagreements. That’s a given, right? What really matters is how we respond when conflicts show up. Do we turn toward each other, trying to find common ground? Or do we turn away, avoiding eye contact and pretending it never happened? These moments of connection—or disconnection—tell us a lot about a relationship.

Conflict can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. It might just be the beginning of something stronger. Think about it this way: when you have a disagreement with someone, you have an opportunity to grow. You learn more about what makes them tick, and you discover what’s important to you. As Christians, we know that relationships are about growth and understanding, not about perfection.

In the Bible, we see this idea of turning toward each other in conflict, especially in the story of Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 32, Jacob is afraid to meet his brother Esau because they have a long history of conflict. He even sends gifts ahead to try to smooth things over. But when they finally meet, Esau runs to Jacob, embraces him, and they both weep. What a beautiful example of turning toward each other instead of away! Despite their history, they choose to reconcile.

Finding Ways to Turn Toward Each Other

When couples face relationship conflicts, they have a choice: they can either turn toward each other or away. In the Sound Relationship House theory, turning toward means engaging with your partner when they make “bids” for connection. These bids can be as simple as telling a joke, asking about your day, or even just making eye contact. The couples who stay together are those who turn toward each other most of the time.

Turning away happens when someone ignores or dismisses these bids. It’s like cleaning your glasses while someone tells you a story. They might not even realize they’re doing it, but it sends a message: “I’m not interested.” This kind of behavior, if it becomes a pattern, can lead to deeper problems in a relationship.

Turning against is even worse. It’s when someone responds to a bid with irritation or anger. Imagine if someone tries to tell you a joke, and your response is, “I’m trying to read!” That kind of reaction can really hurt. But even in these moments, there’s hope. Relationship conflicts can be repaired if both people are willing to work on it.

Building Emotional Bank Accounts

Think of your relationship like a bank account. Every time you turn toward your partner, you make a deposit. When you ignore them or respond with irritation, you make a withdrawal. The goal is to keep your emotional bank account in the positive. If you have more deposits than withdrawals, you’re on the right track.

Building an emotional bank account takes effort, but it’s worth it. Couples who stay together usually have more deposits than withdrawals. They laugh together, support each other, and share their dreams. This positive perspective helps them weather the storms of life without sinking. In Philippians 4:8, Paul encourages us to focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. That’s what a positive perspective is all about.

Conflict Can Strengthen Bonds

When we think about relationship conflicts, we often imagine shouting matches or silent treatments. But conflict can actually bring couples closer. If you handle it the right way, conflict can be a chance to learn and grow together. It’s like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Conflict can be that sharpening process if you use it to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

In the apartment lab studies mentioned earlier, researchers found that couples who stayed together turned toward each other 86% of the time. That’s a lot of emotional deposits! Couples who ended up divorced turned toward each other only 33% of the time. It shows how important it is to stay engaged, even when it’s tough.

Understanding the Deeper Meaning of Conflict

Sometimes, relationship conflicts aren’t really about what they seem. Couples might argue about money, but the conflict is often about deeper issues, like security or trust. When we argue about chores, it might be about feeling unappreciated. It’s important to dig deeper and find out what’s really going on.

Jesus often used parables to help people understand deeper truths. In the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), the conflict between the father and his older son wasn’t just about a party. It was about the son’s feeling of neglect and the father’s desire to show grace. By understanding the deeper meaning behind the conflict, they were able to reconcile and strengthen their bond.

When couples talk about their hopes and dreams, they often discover what really matters to each other. This kind of conversation can turn relationship conflicts into opportunities for growth. It helps partners understand each other’s perspectives and find common ground.

Seeking Help When Conflicts Escalate

Even when we try our best to turn toward each other, conflicts can still get out of hand. When this happens, it’s okay to seek help. Christian counseling can be a great resource. A counselor can help you find ways to communicate and resolve conflicts in a way that honors God and each other. Sometimes, having a neutral third party can make all the difference.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus talks about resolving conflicts with others. He suggests going to the person directly, then involving others if needed. This advice can also apply to relationship conflicts. If you’re struggling to resolve things on your own, don’t hesitate to bring in someone who can help.

Relationship conflicts happen, but they don’t have to tear us apart. By turning toward each other, building emotional bank accounts, and understanding the deeper meaning of conflict, we can strengthen our bonds. Remember, even during conflict, there’s hope for reconciliation and growth.

Action Steps

  1. When conflicts arise, take a deep breath and choose to turn toward each other.
  2. Build your emotional bank account by showing affection, interest, and support.
  3. Dig deeper into the root cause of conflicts to understand each other’s needs.
  4. If conflicts escalate, seek Christian counseling to help find common ground in your relationship.

Finally Alive Counseling

Finally Alive Counseling Ministries is a Christian based counseling facility. We help those suffering stress, anxiety, anger, depression, and more.


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