How to Successfully Resolve Conflicts in a Marriage
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Did you know that approximately 30% (or more) of high-conflict marriages end in divorce? And, that even low-conflict marriages are at risk for divorce (Divorce Source, 2005). That is pretty scary, isn’t it? But, thankfully, your marriage does not have to end in divorce because of conflicts.
Truth-be-told, you are probably going to experience conflicts at some time in your married life. It is normal to disagree from time-to-time. Why? Well, no two people are the same – in fact, you and your spouse are rather unique individuals. For instance, you may be a “homebody,” but your spouse may be a social enigma. You may do better with math and science, while your spouse may excel at reading and writing. Moreover, you may like neutral colors, while your spouse prefers bold colors that pop. It is ok to be different from your spouse – no one expects you two to be clones of one another, however, it is also important to know how to resolve conflicts when they arise in your marriage. Today is your lucky day. Why? Well, because you found this article, which will teach you how to successfully resolve conflicts in your marriage. This article will teach you how to address and resolve issues quickly, so that you can continue of your path of “wedded bliss.” Listed below are ways that you can successfully resolve marital conflicts:
Learn the Difference from Complaints and Constructive Criticisms
Do you know the difference between complaints and constructive criticisms? It is common for people to misinterpret constructive criticisms as being “critical and judgmental,” when in actuality they are helpful in nature. On the other hand, complaints, especially if they are not intended to be helpful, can be destructive. In other words, they can tear down someone’s self-esteem, and make him or her feel useless, worthless, hopeless, and helpless. Constructive criticisms are really “useful suggestions,” but most people do take them that way. This is especially true in a marriage, where spouses place a lot of value on their partner’s opinions. The thing about constructive criticism is that it can feel judgmental because it suggests that you are not “perfect,” and in need of improvement. And, let’s face it – it hurts to realize that you aren’t the “perfect” person, you think you are. However, a good way to look at constructive criticism is that although it may sting at first, it is a way to “better” yourself. In other words, it is an opportunity for self-improvement.
When was the last time you really listened to one another? Well, another great way to successfully resolve conflicts in your marriage is to listen to your spouse. Pay attention to what your spouse is trying to tell you. Do not “assume” you know what he or she wants, needs, or is going to say. Actively listen to the words and try to decipher the meaning behind them. If you do not understand what your spouse is trying to tell you – ask him or her to explain it again. Be patient, and most of all stay calm. Try to be open-minded, and give your spouse the benefit-of-the-doubt.
How well do you communicate with your spouse? If you want to successfully resolve conflicts in your marriage, you will need to learn how to effectively communicate with one another. In other words, you will need to learn how to talk to one another in a rational, civilized way. Screaming, yelling, bullying, and/or criticizing each other during an argument or disagreement is not going to make the situation better, if anything, it will only exacerbate it. Try to stay calm, rational, and respectful, while in the midst of a conflict. If you do not approach it with a level-head, or if you keep your feelings bottled up, you may end up saying something you regret when you finally explode. So, unless you are looking to get divorced - communicate with your spouse non-aggressively, even when you want to scream, yell, and kick something.
Stay Calm & Collected
Are you able to stay calm and collected during an argument or disagreement? Things can get rather heated during an argument or disagreement. Emotions can run high, and feelings can get hurt. But, the worst thing you can do, if you are in the midst of a marital conflict, is “get-out-control.” Why? Well, because it can cause more harm than good. Rather, try to stay as calm and collected as possible. Why? Well, because it may just save your marriage. Even if your spouse yells, screams, bullies, degrades, and/or blames you for the conflict – keep your cool. In other words, don’t let him or her see you sweat. Stay true to yourself, even if you are being unfairly attacked. You will get more accomplished being level-headed than emotional.
Are you being truthful with each other? This may be a hard step for you to take, especially if you love your spouse dearly, and desperately want to work things out. However, it is important that you be truthful with your spouse, and that he or she be truthful with you, during a marital conflict. Honesty is a huge factor in a marriage. Without honesty, a marriage will ultimately fail. Honesty is one of those virtues that go along with respect, honor, and love unconditionally, so if you do not have that key virtue, your marriage is bound to experience damaging conflicts. Don’t “shield” your spouse because you do not want to hurt his or her feelings. Instead, be truthful with him or her at all times, not just in the middle of an argument or disagreement. Sometimes, a person needs a “swift kick in the butt” to make him or her realize how important the marriage is to him or her. In fact, the truth may be just what you and your spouse need to get through this rough patch in your marriage. If you love your spouse, tell him or her - the truth.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Divorce Source. (2015). Most marriages and divorces are low conflict. Retrieved from http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/considering/most-marriages-and-divorces-are-low-conflict-483.shtml
New Life Ministries. (2015). 4 guidelines for resolving conflicts in marriage. CBN. Retrieved from http://www.cbn.com/family/Marriage/newlife_conflicts.aspx
Rainey, D. (2015). 6 steps for resolving conflict in marriage. Family Life. Retrieved from http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/staying-married/resolving-conflict/6-steps-for-resolving-conflict-in-marriage#.VQiB2Y7F8ms