Understanding the causes of conflict is the first step in conflict resolution because a problem known is a problem half solved. Conflict can not be permanently resolved if the root cause of the problem is not known. Diagonizing and discovering the reason or the why of conflict is not to witch hunt any of the parties involved rather is the first step to finding a lasting solution.
In this small write-up, I want to throw some light on the causes of conflict because knowing and understanding the reason behind conflict will help you in handling it in such a way that it will benefit you and your partner.
These are two basic causes of conflict in any kind of relationship, they are (i) Self-centeredness and (ii) Pride.
The First Cause Of Conflict: Self Centeredness.
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that make war inside you. James 4:1 ERV
Self–centeredness simply means the attitude of being not interested in want happens to others; am only concerned with what am suppose to gain.
Marrian Webster dictionary defined it as; “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests”.
Self-centeredness is an indication of carnality; that is life in the flesh; a life that is not guided by the love of God. It is a sign that the love of God is not fully operational in a person’s life. Love of God (Seeking the benefit of your spouse first) is the direct opposite of self-centeredness.
If you are easily irritable or piss-offed, that is an indication of self –centeredness. But when you are operating in the love of God, it will be difficult for anything to piss you off.
There are two arms of self-centeredness; they are non-compatibility and, immaturity/inflexibility.
a) We are not compatible!
The expression; “We are incompatible has often appeared in almost all divorce cases and always available in almost all the conflicts that exist in marriages.
The truth is that people are not compatible because there no two people that are the same. Though you are not the same as your spouse, you can choose to fit yourself into the relationship. All that it requires of you are adjustment, tolerance, acceptance, and above all the understanding of the truth that nobody is perfect.
Stop expecting your spouse to think, behave and act like you. Two of you are never the same. According to the bible, you and your spouse came together and become one. Which implies that you complimented each other to become one. Marriage is the coming together of two different people who have different upbringing, orientation, and belief systems, and the no way two of you can be the same.
Understanding this concept is key in fighting conflict in relationships. somebody said that “A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to let go of each other.” To avoid unnecessary conflict, you must let go of the chase of compatibility; and leverage on your strengths while managing each other’s weaknesses.
b) Immaturity and inflexibility
The primary ingredients of all marital conflicts are immaturity and inflexibility (intolerance). Studies have shown that immaturity and inflexibility cause more harm in a marriage relationship than incompatibility. Immaturity has caused the death of many marriages than all other factors put together.
Maturity is the key to a successful marriage! Therefore GROW-UP! Make growth, discipline, and consistent self-development a habit and lifestyle. Choose between humbling yourself by paying the price for growth and maturity and seeing your marriage dead!
God loves varieties and that is why you are different from your spouse. If there is no difference between you and your spouse, if two of you are all the same, the marriage relation will one day become boring because growth and personal development will be hindered. But the greater your difference, the greater your potential for growth (please understand this and strive to consistently improve yourself).
The more you understand people (their circumstances, their background, their temperament and views (their belief system) the more patient and flexible you are going to be with them. People don’t change easily, therefore learn to be patient and flexible.
You have different backgrounds and orientations with your spouse including different temperaments and yet you want him/her to behave exactly the way you want. This will always lead to conflict.
It will be to your advantage if you stop being judgmental because there is a huge difference between your belief system and that of your spouse.
Maturity, therefore, demands that you concentrate on becoming a better version of yourself because it is the only way to get the best of your spouse. Deep calling unto deep, therefore the better version of yourself will call out the better version of your spouse.
Marriage is a place of learning and development; it can expose you to your faults and shortcoming. One of the purposes of marriage is to give you a platform to develop, mature, and grow to be like Jesus. It all requires humility.
If you are humble, you can learn from anybody (including your spouse); you can also learn from any situation or circumstance. You can learn to love and you can learn to adapt and co-exist with anybody. Brain Tracy said that everything is learnable.
I want you to know that it is more rewarding to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship. Remember, an unresolved conflict affects your fellowship with God; hinders your prayers from been answered, and above all steals your happiness; therefore, it is to your advantage that you master the skill of conflict resolution.
It is of equal importance to know that human beings are naturally self-centered creatures. If you want to have a good relationship in any area of your life, you must learn how to think less of yourself. Joyce Meyer said; “If we live a self-directed, self-motivated, self-centered life, always needing to get our way, then we’re going to be miserable. Many times we believe it’s our problems that are making us unhappy when, in reality, it’s because we’re focused on ourselves!
Second Cause Of Conflict: Pride.
Pride only leads to arguments, but those who take advice are wise. Proverbs 13:10 NCV.
Proud people get their feelings hurt easily. Before I go further, let me quickly inform you that pride is the root cause of all sins (Including unresolved conflict and broken relationships).
You can’t have a flourishing relationship if you are not intentionally dealing with the issue of pride in your life. Pride can simply mean the inability to identify or own up to your blind spot or weakness.
a) Deal with Your Blind Spot
Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your eye? 4 How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your eye? 5, You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5 GNT
A blind spot is a weakness in your life that you cannot see or you are not aware that exists. Pride includes been ignorant or defensive of your fault and trying to correct other people of their fault.
God used this verse to deliver me and subsequently delivered my marriage when it was on the verge of total and disastrous collapse. I was always thinking that it was my wife that is the cause of the incessant conflict in our marriage.
Until one day out of desperation, I cried to God to help me and transform my wife and God shocked me by telling me that if I want a better marriage; if I want my wife to change that I should work on myself. He told me that if I can remove the log of wood in my eyes; then and only then I will begin to see the beauty and sweetness of my wife and consequently my marriage.
Until you deal with your blind spot (which pride has hidden from you) you will always have conflict in your relationship. Deal first with your fault and weakness before you can deal with that of another person. You can influence somebody to change but you cannot force any person to change.
These few questions will help you to locate your blind spot:
i. Can you easily say sorry to your partner even when you know that you are not at fault?
ii. Are you self-centered?
iii. Have you been unrealistic?
iv. How sensitive are you to the things that concern your partner?
v. Have been ungrateful?
vi. Are you over-demanding?
vii. Are you easily offended?
viii. Do you always feel like dominating your spouse?
ix. Are you difficult to please?
x. Is it easy for you to forgive or does it take time for you to forgive?
The secret of overcoming pride is to stop thinking first about yourself and concentrate on thinking about the good and the best of your partner. Above all, learn to say to your spouse; “am sorry, I think am been self-centered”.
These little exercises will help you to overcome pride, have victory over conflict, and then have a wonderful relationship (don’t forget that by your strength that you can make it, you need the help of the Holy Spirit),