Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Dealing with conflict in marriage
While putting the pieces of my nearly-imploded marriage back together, I read a quote that said one of the top indicators of divorce is unresolved conflict. The fact is that unless you live in a world where you are the only one you ever see, there will be conflict in your life. There will especially be conflict in a marriage, where you are spending a great deal of time with the same person, who has different feelings, opinions, and ideas than you. What you do with that conflict is one of the biggest indicators of how satisfying your marriage will be.
Now, I am certainly no expert on dealing with conflict since, as I just mentioned, I have only been actually dealing with it for about two years now (out of the 13 that we have been together), but what I do know is that it must be done. When my husband and I have an argument, there are some things that we always try to do. First, we try to not get defensive. This is harder for me, and it drives my husband crazy. During our argument on Sunday, my husband actually said, "Okay, I feel myself getting defensive, and it drives me crazy when you do that, so I am going to step back and start over." He literally lowered his shoulders, took a breath, and started over. Second, we try to approach things in a non-attacking manner. I wouldn't necessarily said that we do the "When you do this it makes me feel..." approach that most therapies say you should, but we try to talk in a non-threatening way and just really say what the issue is. Also, we don't stop the conversation until we both have said all we need to say, even if it means talking about multiple things. And finally, we try to truly move on from the conflict. We have both said what we need to say, figured out what needs changing if anything, and we leave the conflict there. This is harder for me than it is for my husband. He is always ready to hug and be fine when we are done talking, but I take a little longer. On Sunday, I actually told my husband, "I'm fine, I don't have anything else to say, but I'm not ready to be kissy with you yet." He chuckled and said, "Okay, thanks for telling me that." After a little while, we were both ready to smile at each other and move on.
This has been a big challenge for both of us to learn, since we are both conflict avoiders, but it has done wonders for our marriage. Conflict can actually be good for your marriage if you use it to improve your relationship instead of bring distance between you.