If there is one thing that most of us don’t want to do it is to accept responsibility for our part in the conflict. Why? Because if we accept responsibility for our part, we cannot blame the other person for the things we’ve said or done. Accepting responsibility for my part in the conflict is saying, “Yes, I had a part in causing this conflict. Regardless of what you did, I am at fault for…” I cannot accept responsibility for my part in the conflict while making excuses for my behavior. Saying things like, “Your right I was wrong to say that. But really if you hadn’t said what you said, I wouldn’t have said what I said.” No matter how much we want it to be that is not accepting responsibility for our part in the conflict. That is assigning blame to the other party so that we can justify our actions.
Several years ago we went to Houston on vacation. One night in our hotel room I heard from the next room, “Sarah, stop it!” Scuffling sounds. “Sarah, STOP IT!!” Whap! “WAAHHHAA” Sarah then came into the room with me and her nose was bleeding. I asked her what had happened and she told me that Katelyn had hit her. While trying to stop the bleeding I called Katelyn into the room and asked her if she hit Sarah. She told me she did because Sarah was trying to take the clicker away from her. To which I responded, “You bloodied your sisters nose over the clicker!?!” Katelyn said, “Yeah, I had it and she was trying to take it.” I tried to explain to her that while Sarah was wrong in trying to take the clicker from her, the appropriate response to such action was not to bloody her nose. As I tried to explain to her that her actions were wrong, she kept pointing out that Sarah had done something wrong first.
I never did convince her to accept responsibility for her part in the conflict. She always sought to justify her actions because of what Sarah had done. The reason for this is that she is a child. She acts like a child and she thinks like a child. When we cannot accept responsibility for our part in the conflict without seeking to justify our actions by what the other person did first we are being immature. We are being immature emotionally and we are being immature spiritually.
I am totally convinced that the Christian life must be lived out at home before it can be lived out anywhere else. Dealing with conflicts in a Christ-like manner is no different.
What does it say about me if I’m willing to not act in my anger in public but not at home?
What does it say about me if I am willing to pray for God’s will to be done in every conflict but the one have I have at home?
What does it say about me if I will take the initiative to resolve conflicts with everyone but my spouse?
What does it say about me if I will accept responsibility for my part in every conflict but the one I have with my spouse?
I guess really a more important question could be what does this tell my spouse.
I would say that it tells them that every relationship I have is more important than my relationship to her. The Bible teaches that the marriage relationship is second in importance only to our relationship with Christ. It is so important that if our marital relationship is out of whack our spiritual life is out of whack. We must be willing to apply these principles at home first and foremost.