October 23, 2018

How Conflict Can Improve Relationships

Written by Shana Schutte

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 23, 2018

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced an unexpected conflict with someone I’d like to get to know better but who is only an acquaintance. When the conflict unexpectedly erupted due to a misunderstanding, first I was hurt and then I was angry.

But before I responded in an ungodly way, I remembered something very important: conflict can be leveraged to improve relational intimacy. You see, during every conflict there is that moment when you first become hurt or angry and you feel like giving back the hurt you have received.

At this moment, you are standing at the relational crossroads of greater relational intimacy and relational destruction. Meaning, you can wisely use the conflict to grow your relationship, or you can mismanage it and allow it to ruin your relationship.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)

If you want to build intimacy in your relationship and use conflict to become a catalyst to become closer with another person, here are some things you can do:

When the other person is upset and perhaps even blaming you for something you didn’t do, it’s easy to become offended and respond in kind. But don’t allow your ungodly emotions to rule you. Instead, listen to their heart behind their words because behind hurtful words, there is often a hurting person who is upset because they haven’t received something they want. Perhaps they want your understanding, your time, your help, or your love. Maybe they feel shoved aside, ignored, taken advantage of, or devalued.

Even if you are not guilty of what they are accusing you of and they have misunderstood you, listen to their heart as they speak. Don’t respond to their tone. Then, minister to their hurt by acknowledging it with words of grace. “I am sorry I hurt you.” Remember, the point is not that you are right and they are wrong. The point of resolving the conflict is reconciliation, extending grace, and allowing the other person to see Christ in you. When you apologize, you aren’t admitting you did what they are accusing you of; you are simply acknowledging their pain. You are saying, “I see you and I care.” Once you have acknowledged their pain, ask them if there is anything else they need to let you know about or ask them to tell you more about how they feel.

If you know they need something from you which caused them to become upset and is within your power to do so, give them what they want. For example, if your mate says they are upset because you are always late picking them up from work and that makes them feel devalued, tell them you will do your best to be on time. Then make a genuine effort to do that very thing. A willingness to change for the greater good of a relationship reveals a heart of love and sacrifice. But an unwillingness to change shows our deepest selfishness. When conflict brings up the need to change, love the other person by giving them what they need. (Note: This doesn’t apply to allowing another person to abuse you.)

The next time you have a conflict in your life, choose the high road. Choose God’s humble way. And even though you may feel like lashing out, don’t allow your emotions to dictate your actions or words. Instead, allow grace to determine what you say and do.

You’ll be glad you did.


“Lord, thank you that even though I can’t control another person and their responses, I can control mine. I am grateful for the wisdom that you give and the guidance from your Word on how to handle conflict in a life-giving way.


The next time you have a conflict, respond in a humble, calm, and gracious manner with the goal of relational restoration and intimacy regardless of how you feel.

Related Reading

Ephesians 4:29-5:4; Ephesians 4:26; James 1:19

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Build intimacy in your relationships by leveraging conflict to draw you closer with another person. #WisdomHunters #relationships

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