How to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

So, it’s Thanksgiving week and you were probably expecting a Thanksgiving post.  Well….I was involved in helping put on a brunch this weekend with Village Church and we talked about a topic that I think it super important and I wanted to pass on what I learned while it was fresh in my mind.

The point of the brunch was to help the ladies of the church get connected and start building relationships.  But sometimes, we as women aren’t great at that.  I think we crave community and meaningful relationships, but they often break down and we don’t know how to repair them.  We are emotional and hurt feelings are a thing no matter how old you get.  I can’t lie…I’ve had moments when I know that I’m going somewhere and I’m worried if  “so and so” will be there.  That is not a great way to live…and as I’m getting older, or shall we say maturing…I don’t want to have strained or awkward relationships.  Laurel and I were asked to be a part of the panel discussion about how we have handled conflict in our relationship as sisters, friends and co-workers.  We’ve done a lot of talking and thinking about our relationship and we’ve learned a lot…hindsight is definitely 20-20.  So, the question is…how do we handle conflict in our relationships?

Erin, our site pastor’s wife, opened the discussion with points from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 showing why we are better together.

  1.  Relationships are hard, but they are worth it, because….
  2. We will need to be called on our poor choices.
  3. We will suffer loss and disappointment.  Life is hard.
  4. We will face opposition when we are doing the right things.
  5. Three are even better than two, with Christ being the center of our relationships.

So how does this really work itself out in our lives? That’s the part that Laurel and I have been talking about.

Recently, Laurel and I had a disagreement over work.  Laurel had been negotiating a contract and I was putting my two bits in, which was frustrating her.  We came to a point where we were both feeling annoyed.  I thought about the situation and then realized that Laurel doesn’t love the negotiating part of the business and I don’t mind it.  She brings other things to the table, such as relationships.  So, I told her that I from now on would be willing take over negotiations and she could focus more on building relationships with clients.  It’s a win-win.  I was grateful that Laurel was willing to consider my suggestion.

I also remember an argument we had about 17 years ago.  The crazy thing is I can’t remember what the argument was specifically about.  It had something to do with me being stubborn and not willing to bend.  Really??  Doesn’t sound like me, lol!  I got off the phone feeling super ticked off….Jason had gone to bed, so I couldn’t talk to him about it.  Then I remember thinking, “Lord, is there any truth to what is being said?  If there is, help me to recognize and change it.”  Ok, that process took some time, but I think what I learned is that if someone you care about and respect calls you out on something, listen and process it and see what you might need to change.  And husbands are great people to bounce stuff off of as they are a lot less emotional and don’t do things like read tone into texts 😉

Another thing Laurel and I talked about is balancing out the “momma bear” thing.  Yes, we as moms need to protect our kids, but within reason.  My daughter was dating my friend’s son, and things didn’t end very well.  I was so worried that I might lose my friendship and I really valued it.  We both needed to take a hot second and a step back.  We did talk about it and we were able to continue to be friends.  A while down the road I told my friend that I was so glad that she continued our friendship and her response was, “Of course…kids are dumb and do dumb things.”  Ha ha…we all do dumb things too!  But what I really learned is that we weren’t hurting our kids but still being friends.

Another tricky thing is when our kids tried out for the same dance groups.  I’m sure many of you out there have friends who have kids involved in the same activities as your kids.  Inevitably they may try out for the same sports teams, and they may not all make it.  This is really hard.  Laurel and I struggled with this.  We both felt that we maybe didn’t encourage the kids enough to move past this for the sake of their friendship.  I think we would both do it differently today.

A very wise friend told me that it’s 99% sure that your kids are going to grow up and leave.  So….when they leave, do you want to be alone and lonely?  Ladies, relationships are worth fighting for!

Laurel also addressed her gratitude for her friends’ support during her battle with breast cancer.  Friends came alongside and helped with the kids, meals, driving, listening and just being.  These were longtime friends who jumped in to help in any way.  We as a group of friends also got together to pray for Laurel.  There is a deepening of relationship when you can pray for each other that I can’t explain.

Another one of our friends says, “You can’t make old friends”.  Read that again!  There is something so special about a friend that you have history with, that you’ve gone through crap with, who loves you enough to call you out when you are out of line (because it’s not fun for either of you).  So, fight for the ladies in your life that are your peeps.  It’s hard work, but there is great reward.  We are definitely BETTER TOGETHER.

We would love to hear how you and a friend overcame conflict in your relationships in the comments.

And now, just for fun, here are some pics from the brunch.  Enjoy!