By Dwight Bain
You make me so mad! You are just wrong! You will never get it! You bring out the worst in me!
Heard these comments before? I hope not, because these are the comments that blow up relationships. Not in an instant way, rather little by little until the relationship erosion collapses the entire marriage or family relationship. You see, it’s not usually big fights that end relationships; rather, it’s small ones. Little conflicts, little disagreements, little resentments and little criticisms can build up into tsunami sized rage filled episodes. The sad irony is that people who say they love each other the most, and that they would even die for the people they say they love, are the very same people who use hostile words to crush the spirits of those same people.
These type of conflicts aren’t limited to husbands and wife’s either. No, Parents can have major conflicts with teens, siblings can go after one another in a rage, neighbors can go to battle over barking dogs, coworkers can go off on customers and even churchgoing people can start quarrels of epic proportions.
Conflict is as old as time, but the consequences seem to be growing more intense. Lawsuits, jail time, divorce, domestic violence, assault, battery, broken families and shattered trust are just the beginning of pain when two normally rational people set upon a course of action to go to war with one another. Remember in a war there are no winners, just survivors. Would it surprise you to know the Bible teaches against irresponsible conflict? Listen… “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (St.
Viewing needless conflict as a fire can be helpful since there are four main ways to respond to a forest fire that are similar to the four main approaches people use to manage conflict in the relationships.
Several of my friends lived in Colorado where they had to flee for their lives from the devastating fires that destroyed hundreds of homes last summer. As dangerous as those fires were, the reality is that dangerous words full of rage and resentment destroy more relationships than wildfires during a drought. You can rebuild a house that has been destroyed, but it may take decades to try and rebuild broken trust from hostile words used against family members. The four main types of fire response are:
GASOLINE – yep, I said it. Gas, which when poured on a fire causes a massive explosion. When parties go from name calling to full scale attack they are pouring gasoline onto the flames of conflict. Acting with Aggression will not solve your angry conflict, but it will make matters worse, sometimes even dangerously so.
FIRE – You’ve likely heard the saying, to “Fight fire with fire” meaning to stand up Assertively to protect your rights while fighting back. While it is true some firefighters use the fire break strategy, if conditions change things can go bad quickly. This is another dangerous approach.
SILENCE – To let a fire burn out from an apathetic approach of doing nothing is often the passive-aggressive way to respond. Remember, relationships are not usually destroyed by problems, but rather by silence about those problems. Finally,
WATER – This is the safest way to end a raging fire. To Accept what is going on and take bold action to do something about it, all while protecting against being drawn into more conflict by others.
If you desire a deeper level of relationship, instead of being destroyed by it, make sure you are living out the words of scripture, again from St. James, who said, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
Learning how to put out the flames of conflict will make you feel stronger, more confident and protect the place and people you love the most. Making Home a safe zone from the ‘fires’ of relationship will protect your future legacy and lead to a world of joy, instead of continual pain and problems.
About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.
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