Communication: Conflict and the Influence of Self

God created us with free will, meaning we could make our own decisions and live life according to His way or our own way. Because of the fall of man, we have a bit of rebelliousness in all of us. We constantly struggle with SELF. SELF always wants it's own way, not God's way or a spouse's way.

Our selfish and sinful nature interferes with God’s plan for us. When we give into our SELF, we jeopardize relationships and cause disruptions in society. Our society has fallen to an immoral state of ‘no right or wrong’ because the trend has been to think about ones SELF. If it feels good, do it. We no longer are taught to put the needs of others ahead of our SELF.

We bring this worldly attitude into our marriage relationship. Conflict starts with the rising of that inner beast called SELF. When SELF feels threatened to not get it’s own way, ridiculed, or offended, it needs to strike in order to justify it's SELF. We are taught in the world to “Defend your SELF! Don’t let them talk to you like that!”

While selfishness is a major culprit of conflict, we also have “trigger spots” that threaten our well-being. These triggers can send us into an unwarranted tizzy if not handled correctly. They usually flair up when our spouse unintentionally opens up the baggage we carry from our childhood with what may seem to be an innocent remark. (Baggage is a popular term for painful issues you carry from your past.)

That baggage may carry years of physical or emotional abuse and pain we’ve never dealt with. Our over reactive response stems from placing those past issues in the present and unwittingly blaming our spouse, in the process, for something our parents caused or possibly another significant adult.

We handle conflict in the way we witnessed our parents dealing with it. Many of us were taught not to fight back or were not allowed to respond. We listened, swallowed it, and then left it to ferment inside our souls and bodies. This repression often causes a great dislike of conflict, avoiding it at any cost. Not dealing with conflict can affect our physical and emotional health.

Others were taught by their parents how to have “knock ‘m out, drag ‘m down” verbal fights that included obscenities and screaming, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Some of these fights turned into physical battles, an unacceptable lesson for any child to learn. When the battle begins, love jumps out the window.

In order to protect our egos, we lash out insults. Once the defenses are up, we stop caring and feel the urge to attack instead of love. We feel hurt and betrayed by our spouse, so we want to hurt and betray them. Our righteous indignation explodes, and we lose any desire to be reasonable in the midst of war. We feel power in the heat of battle. Our SELF wants to have it's way and win the battle, whatever the price.

When indignation and desire to win take over, we lose our ability to hear what is being said and what is NOT being said. We lose the ability to take responsibility for our actions in the battle. We blame the other person for everything that is wrong, unaware of the triggers that started the war in the first place. When a discussion turns into an argument, we release a certain chemical in our brain that clouds our ability to think rationally.

For a marriage to continue successfully and peacefully, each spouse must learn to crucify SELF and learn the best way to deal with conflict.


*More about conflict next time.

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