Highlight: How do you handle conflict?

How we handle conflict is often more important than the conflict itself. 

With every conflict, there is always a choice for resolution. Deb DeArmond shares a helpful strategy for handling conflicts that come our way using the ‘speak‘ acronym.

Seek permission.

It’s important to seek permission from our spouse when bringing up important issues or concerns, rather than blurting them out whenever we feel like it.

“Seek permission to have the discussion. Make sure it’s a time when you can speak uninterrupted, when neither of you has other issues, either children or work related, pressing on you, etc. Ask, is this a good time? Sometimes giving that person a time frame can be helpful.”

Present the issue.

We need to present our concerns and ideas, especially in the event that our spouse is not aware of the issue in the first place. Deb points out a few examples,

“It could be a path forward, it could be a solution that you think might bear some discussion, it could be disclosing how you felt about something that happened between the two of you, etc.”

Explore solutions.

While exploring solutions to conflicts with our spouse, Deb encourages us to ask questions that will create a healthy dialogue.

“Asking open questions that start with who and what and how, not leading questions like don’t you think?, or closed ended questions that require just a ‘yes,’ a ‘no’ or sometimes just a nod or silence that gives the answer. Create a dialogue; if only one of you is talking there’s a problem.”

Acknowledge what we hear.

Taking our spouse’s feelings into account will show them honor and provide us with a deeper level of understanding of the conflict and our part in it.

“You may hear things that you hadn’t considered, you may hear a concern expressed about the way you’ve handled something. It’s tough to own it, but until you do, if there’s validity there, the argument will never ever cease and it will probably continue to be an issue going forward.”

It is important to empathize with our spouse when they hurting and take ownership of our own actions.

“This is where empathy is really important. It just says, ‘Hey, I can see that what I said really hurt your feelings,’ or ‘I can understand how you felt kind of cut out of that situation because I didn’t include you.’

“Until we own something we don’t really tend to it very diligently.”

Keep the discussion timely. 

“There’s no need to go back and dredge up ancient history or forecast that this is something you’ll always be doing, it’s just not helpful.”


Deb DeArmond is a highly-experienced and sought-after executive coach, trainer and facilitator, having worked in marketplace ministry with audiences at all levels across a broad spectrum of industries and organizations. Deb is the co-founder of MyPurposeNow.org, a website for Christian women 50+. She is a staff writer for the online magazine Destiny in Bloom, and her writing is regularly featured at Living Better at 50+, also an online magazine.

Conflict in marriage

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