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In any marriage, conflict is inevitable — even for Christians. With two unique individuals, each with their own sinful nature, disagreements are bound to arise. The question isn’t *if* you will fight but *how* you will fight. 


This lesson from the Marriage and Family Ministry at Dream City Church focuses on engaging in conflict in a way that strengthens, rather than damages, your marital relationship. Drawing insights from “The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring You Closer” by Les and Leslie Parrott, we’ll explore strategies to turn conflicts into opportunities for growth and intimacy.

Focus Verse

“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person causes many sins.”

~ Proverbs 29:22 (NIV)

The Power of Words in Conflict

Our words have immense power, especially within the sacred bond of marriage. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” How we communicate during conflicts can either build up or tear down our relationship. Consider also Proverbs 12:18, “There is one who speaks RASHLY like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings HEALING.”


Reflecting the Holy Spirit in our speech, even during disagreements, is crucial. Research highlighted by the Parrotts reveals that based on how couples fight early on, we can predict with 94 percent accuracy whether they will stay together. “A good fight is helpful, not hurtful,” they emphasize. Understanding how to fight right is essential; this is where the CORE acronym comes into play.

CORE: The Foundation of Healthy Conflict

  • C = Cooperation: Good fighters cooperate. Cooperation involves working together towards a common goal. When approaching conflict with a “we” mindset instead of a “me” mindset, both spouses are more likely to feel that they win together. Remembering that you are a team on the same side fosters a cooperative spirit.


  • O = Ownership: Good fighters take ownership. The blame game only prolongs fights and creates defensiveness. Instead, owning your mistakes and acknowledging areas where you can improve promotes a solution-oriented atmosphere. Taking responsibility is a step towards reconciliation.


  • R = Respect: Good fighters show respect. Respect during conflict builds trust and sets the stage for productive dialogue. Respect can be demonstrated through active listening, withholding judgment, and valuing your spouse’s perspective. Respect is a deep need, especially for men, and its presence during conflict can prevent further escalation.


  • E = Empathy: Good fighters have empathy. Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another. Research shows that seeing your spouse’s perspective accurately can resolve 90 percent of marital disagreements. The ability to step into your spouse’s shoes and see things from their viewpoint is a powerful act of love.

Understanding Fight Types

Each of us has a unique temperament that influences how we approach conflict. The Parrotts utilize the four-temperament theory, including choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholy. Understanding your fight type and that of your spouse can help you navigate conflicts more effectively.


Choleric = The Competitive Fighter

Choleric individuals are assertive and self-confident but may come across as too direct. In a relationship, this type may be an impatient listener with responses their spouse thinks are too sharp. If you have a choleric personality type, you are a competitive fighter who doesn’t give up easily. In other words, you need to work on the C in the CORE and learn to cooperate with your spouse, remembering that you are on the same side.


Sanguine = The Collaborative Fighter

Sanguine personalities are social and friendly but tend to avoid conflict. Since conflict avoidance does not lead to conflict resolution, if you have a sanguine temperament, you will need to work on the E in the CORE to empathize with your spouse and truly understand their feelings.


Phlegmatic = The Conciliatory Fighter

Phlegmatic individuals prioritize peace and are calm but may bury their feelings to avoid conflict.  If you are a phlegmatic, it is important for you to work on the O in the CORE. By owning your feelings and opinions, you and your spouse will have the insight necessary from both perspectives to find common ground.


Melancholy = The Cautious Fighter

Melancholy types are detail-oriented and cautious, sometimes to the point of perfectionism. In a relationship, facts are very important to the melancholy type. If this is your personality, you might find yourself asking your spouse the same question over and over until you feel you have adequate information. Then, you’ll need additional time to process it. If you have a melancholy temperament, it will be beneficial to focus on the R in CORE so that your spouse feels respected and not demeaned while you seek out the details in order to find resolution.


While our personalities shape our approach to conflict, they should never serve as an excuse for unhealthy behavior. As Christians, we are called to be conformed to the image of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. By understanding our fight types and applying the CORE principles, we can turn conflicts into opportunities for growth, ultimately drawing closer to our spouses and to God.


To learn more about Christian marriage or seek assistance with your marital journey, consider joining our marriage ministry at Dream City Church. Visit our website or contact us today for more information.

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