It is important to remember that differences of opinion do not necessarily mean that your family life is disintegrating. Not the disagreements themselves but how you handle your disagreements can determine how tranquil or hostile your home environment will be. Consider some steps that may help to eliminate the strife.
1. STOP RETALIATING.
It takes at least two to argue, but when one begins listening instead of speaking, a heated exchange may start to cool down. Therefore, resist the urge to retaliate when provoked. Maintain your own self-respect and dignity by controlling yourself. Remember, peace in the family is more important than winning arguments.
“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out, and where there is no slanderer, quarreling ceases.”—Proverbs 26:20.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FAMILY MEMBER’S FEELINGS.
Active and empathetic listening without interrupting or prejudging can do much to quell anger and restore peace. Instead of imputing bad motives, acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Do not attribute to malice what may be caused by imperfection. Hurtful speech may be more the product of thoughtlessness or a wounded heart than a mean or vengeful spirit.
“Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience.”—Colossians 3:12.
3. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO COOL DOWN.
If your emotions are volatile, it may be wise to excuse yourself politely and walk away for a short while to cool down. Maybe you can go into another room or go for a walk until you have regained your composure. This is not stonewalling—that is, being uncooperative or evasive—nor is it the silent treatment, where someone refuses to communicate. Rather, this is perhaps a good time to pray to God for patience, insight, and understanding.
“Before the quarrel breaks out, take your leave.”—Proverbs 17:14.
4. CAREFULLY CONSIDER WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID AND HOW TO SAY IT.
It will not improve matters if you focus your efforts on preparing a finely honed, cutting rebuttal. Instead, try to say something that can help soothe your loved one’s hurt feelings. And rather than dictating how you think he or she should be feeling, humbly ask for clarification and express thanks for any help or insight you receive.
“Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is a healing.”—Proverbs 12:18.
5. KEEP YOUR VOLUME DOWN AND YOUR TONE CONCILIATORY.
One family member’s impatience can easily arouse another’s anger. Resist the urge to be sarcastic or insulting or to raise your voice, no matter how offended you may feel. Avoid hurtful accusations, such as “You don’t care about me” or “You never listen.” Rather, tell your spouse in a calm manner how his or her conduct has affected you (“I feel hurt when you . . .”). Shoving, slapping, kicking, or any other form of violence is never excusable. The same is true of name-calling, contemptuous comments, or threats.
“Put away from yourselves every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech, as well as everything injurious.”—Ephesians 4:31.
6. BE QUICK TO APOLOGIZE, AND EXPLAIN WHAT YOU WILL DO TO RECTIFY THE SITUATION.
Do not let negative emotions cause you to lose sight of your main objective—making peace. Remember, if you fight with someone, both of you lose. If you make peace, both of you win. So take responsibility for your part in the dispute. Even if you are convinced that you have done nothing wrong, you can still apologize for getting irritated, be responding the way you did, or unintentionally contributing to the upset. Peaceful relationships are more important than pride and victory. And if someone apologises to you, be quick to forgive.
“Go and humble yourself and urgently plead with your neighbor.”—Proverbs 6:3.