Three Tips to Help Resolve Marriage Conflict
If even your neighbors know what you and your spouse are fighting about, it’s time to rethink your conflict management strategies. Of course, problems are a part of life for every married couple, but that doesn’t give us license to be disrespectful, rude, or abusive to our spouses. So, when you and the Mr. or Mrs. have a disagreement, there are a few things that must be avoided as best you can. Stop the cycle of conflict, and start on the road to a new beginning.
Here are three “fire starters” to look out for in any conflict situation:
1. No Yelling.
Nobody, and that is nobody, responds well to a raised voice. Unless you’re calling in the kids for dinner, keep your voice down and your conversation private.
As mentioned above, conflict in marriage is perfectly natural, but don’t let your temper drive you out of bounds in an argument. If you feel a hollering session coming on, STOP! Take a moment and breathe. Let your spouse know that you are consciously trying to remain calm out of respect for him or her. Once you have overcome the need to yell, you may find resolution a bit more welcoming.
2. Dredging up and adding in.
Yes, you both remember the time your spouse embarrassed you at a party, or even how they consistently eat straight out of the peanut butter jar. However, these things probably have nothing to do with what you are disagreeing about at the moment.
Resolving marriage conflict is a process, and part of that process is focusing on one issue at a time. Bringing up old issues or adding in additional annoyances only serves to escalate the situation.
3. Building a wall.
You’re in the middle of a marriage crisis. You and your spouse are working together to resolve issues between the two of you. So once you start to disagree, building an emotional wall is not going to help either one of you. And unless you both agree to withdraw from each other to calm your tempers, physically leaving the situation only serves to build ever-higher emotional walls. Stay present and engaged and talk sanely and calmly with your spouse. And no matter what, keep the communication channel open.
Naturally, these tips are just a starting point. You and your spouse have unique issues, and if you cannot seem to resolve conflicts in a healthy way, professional marriage help is available.
One such option is Marriage Dynamics Institute's three-day A New Beginning workshop, which offers a safe place for couples to work on their marital problems. It is led by a trained counselor who equips couples with the tools they need to repair their marriage. (For more information about A New Beginning, including currently scheduled workshops, contact Marriage Dynamics Institute here.)
This testimonial is from someone whose marriage was powerfully impacted through A New Beginning:
"I came to the workshop feeling hopeless that our habitual way of handling things could not be fixed. As we spent quality time together ... I began to see that we could move in a direction that was different and get off the hamster wheel of conflict—withdrawal—sweep under the rug—conflict—withdrawal—sweep under the rug. We have been handed the tools to get off the wheel and break the cycle. I am now hopeful our quality of life and our children's quality of life will be better in such a positive way."
If you have also found yourself on a "hamster wheel" of conflict in your marriage, it is possible to turn things around when you learn how to tackle those conflicts in a healthier way.
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