Marital Conflict

Couple Mad with Each Other

Conflict is a normal part of marriage, I think we would all agree.  The problem with conflict is when nothing gets resolved and a low level of anger is constantly present in the relationship.

So let’s start with what NOT to do.

There are many different models for this but here is an easy one that I use.

Some people just go along with what their spouse wants even if they themselves don’t agree.  They like to keep the peace.  The problem is eventually that person will blow up!  Always keeping the peace is not a solution.  You have needs and opionions too. Speak up as to what you would like.  There is a way to find a decision that will make both people happy.  (more on that later).

On the other side is the spouse who likes to WIN!  This person thinks they are always right (or at least almost always) and really want to have their way.  Many times they are married to someone who likes to keep the peace and who will give in to them. These Winners are then mystified when that same peaceful person finally blows up and says “I have needs too you know!

Then there is the person who really doesn’t want to deal with conflict or doesn’t know how and so withdraws.  “I don’t want to talk about it.” is commonly heard or “This never goes anywhere” and walks out of the room cutting off all conversation with no intent of re-visiting the issue.

All of us have used one or more of these styles in our lives but which one do you generally use?  What is the pattern you and your spouse generally use? Now that you have identified your general styles, let’s go to what works.

There is another type of conflict resolution that will help.  It is simply Resolve.

Happy senior couple at sea beach outdoor. Concept of wellbeing, happiness, male and female health, lifestyle moments.

Here is how you do it. 

    1. You each clearly state your opinion.

    2.  Believe that there is a solution that you both will be happy with (there is!)

    3.  Brainstorm – brainstorm any possible idea, even fantastical ideas (gets the creative juices going) where you both get your needs met.

    4. Be patient.  If this is a big decision (where will we live) it will take moretime to come up with a solution than if it is a small decision (where do we want to go to dinner).  You may have to leave the discussion and come back to it later at an appointed time.

One last note – remember name calling, put downs, cursing at your spouse is never OK.  If you get to that point, take a break, decide when you will come back to the discussion and calm yourself.   When cool heads prevail, then resolve the issue.

Evaluate carefully your typical role in conflict resolution, discuss this with your spouse and choose to use Resolve.  

Marriage is a long term situation.  Good conflict resolution skills are necessary.