‘Oh man, are we having another disagreement again? If only there’s a manual on how to resolve conflicts between husband and wife.’ You think to yourself as you set the dining table.
You sigh heavily, dreading the heated argument and wonder to yourself: ‘If you and your spouse are a perfect match, how come you still have conflicts?’
You might have really deep love for one another, but you just can’t seem to figure something out: how come the emotional conflicts never seem to go away?
It puts a wedge between you and your partner. And you find it harder to love and be patient with each other when your differences get in the way.
If this is the hurdle that you’re facing in your current relationship, then this article will give you the answers that you’ve been looking for.
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Why Do We Have Conflict in Marriage?
‘I hate conflict.’
‘I don’t want to have it and just want to have peace in our relationship.’
‘If we have conflict, that makes us incompatible!’
That’s what many people think when they realize that there’s conflict in their marriage. But why do we even have conflicts?
At the core of conflict, there’s a disagreement about how to do things. This can be about:
- Money (saving vs. spending)
- Sex (how often, what kind etc.)
- Child rearing (how to raise them)
- In-laws (how to treat them, when to invite them etc.)
- Vacation (where to go and what to do)
- Housechores (who should do what)
- Work (how much is too much)
The list is endless. But there’s one thing in common: you want things to be done a certain way, while your partner doesn’t want to do it. Does it sound too simple? Then let’s dive a bit deeper and find out why are we interested in things being done our way?
Many serious conflicts are conflicts about values.
You want to save money, while your spouse wants to spend it. It may look like a simple behavioral issue, but when you look deeper into it, you’ll find that you have contradicting views for what money means.
Your husband may see it as a tool for freedom while you may see it as a tool for safety. Do you see the competing values? One is freedom while the other is safety. Money is the vehicle to honor this desire.
The biggest mistake couples make when dealing with conflict is not going deep enough. They stay at the surface of the conflict instead of diving deeper. This superficial conflict resolution doesn’t lead to a satisfying result because you’re just arguing about what the right thing is in your opinion.
Like the example above, going round and round discussing your money preferences would go nowhere. That’s why you have to communicate about the deeper aspects like why the subject matter is even important to you and your spouse.
Now that we understand why conflicts happen in relationships, let’s look at why they aren’t necessarily a bad thing for you and your spouse. In fact, you don’t want to get rid of conflict. This is where most couples get stuck and never ever recover to a healthy and long-lasting relationship. Not only can you and your partner resolve your current conflicts, you can learn how to make it strengthen your love and connection. Read on to find out how.
Relationships are the building blocks of our society. How we conduct ourselves in relationships has a direct impact on humanity as a whole.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie
Why Is Conflict a Good Thing to Have in Your Marriage?
These behaviors are signs of bad conflict resolution skills. When that happens, you don’t know how to handle conflict so you revert to methods that divide you two further apart.
Instead, conflict is simply an opportunity to grow with your spouse and become a stronger team. But many long-term couples forget the fact that you are two separate individuals. There will naturally be differences in how you think, feel and do things. When this is forgotten, it leads to dysfunctional power struggles where one tries to make their partner do things ‘their way’. This is a never-ending battle that leads to less trust and respect.
When conflict arises in your relationship, you’re having a disagreement and need to find a way to work with it. It’s not personal, nor is it something that’s bad for you or your marriage. We get it, when you’ve only had bad experiences with conflict with your spouse then it might be hard to imagine what it could bring.
We don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.- Steve Goodier
Conflict is good. Without it we are robbing ourselves of all these positive qualities that come with it. The reason why we don’t like conflict is because it’s often mishandled. That inevitably leads to hurt, disappointment, and compromise. Another reason is that we’ve been socially conditioned to be agreeable and ‘pleasant’.
But that’s not the point of being in a relationship. We’re not here to be a ‘yes-man’ or woman. And neither are we here to force our way of doing things upon our partner. So what’s the healthy way forward? It’s crucial that you learn how to deal with conflicts where both of you are honored and empowered in the process.
In our own marriage, we had to go through years of bickering, nagging and passive aggressive communication first. We didn’t realize then that there was a better way. All the time and energy that we tied up in our ineffectively and hurtful patterns only made conflicts persist.
But with the Exceptional Relationship Formula, we’ve found a way to use conflict to bring us closer together. We don’t argue and fight anymore. Instead, we recognize and acknowledge each other’s differences. It’s an opportunity for us to learn about each other, share our true selves and to create together. We’ve found some beautiful solutions to conflicts that bring out our individual strengths.
Want to know how we work as a team to face conflict together? Read on to find out the foundational mindsets that set us up for success and harmony. Don’t let conflict break the love you and your spouse have each other. If you commit and implement our tips, you can make it work.
The 3 Vital Mindset Shifts to Resolve Conflict With Your Spouse
As long as you don’t make these mindset-shifts, conflict will be difficult for you and your partner. Many couples fail to make these shifts in mindset because they aren’t well-known. Want to find out the foundational mindsets that can ensure the long-term success of conflict resolution in your relationship? Read on to find out why conflict doesn’t have to be a win-lose proposition where it’s either my way or your way.
Shift #1: Don’t Compromise
The worst solution is to compromise. It leads to a lose-lose situation where both parties feel like they’re losing out. You don’t want to do that because compromising will create a dissatisfying marriage. Before you know it, you have compromised the passion out of your marriage and ended up as roommates. Why? Because you’re avoiding friction. You’re avoiding the energy that conflict creates. You want to embrace and move with the energy, instead of avoiding it.
Conflict shows you that you are two different people, with differing views and values. That’s important to acknowledge as sexual desire lives in the space between people.
Not only that, but when you compromise you are robbing yourself and your partner of discovering a new way. That’s why compromising will always keep you stuck. While working together to find a creative and aligned solution for both of you makes both you and your relationship grow deeper and stronger. Relationships aren’t meant to be stagnant. You’re meant to transform and grow in life together. But compromising stops that process.
Shift #2: Stop Looking At What You’ll Lose
When we have a conflict, we always believe that the way we see things is right. Giving up our stance would mean we are going to lose out. From this perspective, you’ll be compelled to attack your partner and defend your position. That’ll effectively create a grid-lock situation where neither of you is willing to move an inch.
What we recommend is to question your own position instead. Don’t become too attached to what you want, but rather see it for its own flaws too. Doing this will help you to go beyond seeing what you could lose and become curious if there’s a better way.
Shift #3: There’s Another Way
A conflict is based on two opposing views. It may seem like these two ways are the only two options available. But that’s not true. That’s why this mindset shift is vital for effective conflict resolution. What if you could find another option neither you or your partner has thought about?
What if you could find a way that includes both of your values and wishes? All it takes is to let go of what you want and start understanding what your partner wants. That sets the table to then brainstorm together as a team to find your way.
When you start living life from this point of view, you’ll become a Synergistic Couple. What is that? That’s a couple who knows that they’re better together. They recognize that each person has their strengths and weaknesses. They know that combining their energies leads to exponential growth in their lives.
A Synergistic Couple embraces their differences and even celebrates them. They don’t engage in relationship dramas anymore. Together they create a whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Issues aren’t felt as a personal attack from your partner, rather they are seen as something the couple is facing together.
How do you facilitate this kind of conflict resolution in your marriage with the three mindsets above? Read on to find out.
The 5 Crucial Steps to Resolve Conflict For Good
Now that we’ve covered the important mindset shifts, let’s dive into practical applications of them and how you can resolve conflict in your marriage for good. If you get stuck, make sure to revisit the mindset shifts. As long as you hold onto your old view of conflict and what it means for you, your partner, and your marriage, you’ll have a difficult time resolving conflict.
You really want to make sure that you stop believing that conflict is:
- Requires compromise
- Means that there’s something wrong
- Leads to the same fight again and again
- Something you want to avoid
With that in mind, let’s get started.
Step 1: Listen
Maybe you find yourself in conflict with your partner again. For just a moment, put your ideas on the backseat. You’re not going to agree with your partner to do anything at this point, so what’s the harm to listen to him fully? There aren’t any.
Just because you can see that he has a point and his perspective is valid, doesn’t invalidate your point of view. This is the type of active and compassionate listening that will directly lead you to the solution.
You want to ensure that you follow up with questions. Be as curious as possible about what drives your husband to have things this way. You want to ensure that you understand the following:
- What does the issue symbolize for him?
- What is he fearful of losing?
- What does he believe he’ll gain from having it his way?
The more open you are to listen to your partner, the more you can expand your horizon. Just listening with an open mind and heart can change the whole situation around. What may seem like an unreasonable request may suddenly become quite reasonable and understandable.
Notice how this listening isn’t done to then get your way or point across. The conflict is actually the second priority here. The first thing we’re trying to achieve is understanding and connection. That’s the reason why listening works. You are capable of doing this and you can turn your marriage around.
A relationship can either be a place of deep wounding or deep healing.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie
Step 2: Be Clear On What’s Actually Important to You
If you don’t know what’s driving you to have things your way, you’ll have a difficult time finding an alternative. Just like your partner, you want to dive deeper and understand what your values are. You want to make sure you understand what values you’re trying to uphold and what needs aren’t met. The better you see how you work, the clearer you can communicate it to your partner.
At the beginning of our relationship, I had zero conflict resolution skills. In fact, I was a professional conflict-avoider. But that only lasted so long because Jachym got sick and tired of me hiding how I actually felt.
The thing is that, I barely knew myself then. I didn’t know what it was that I wanted. I didn’t understand how I felt. I had to learn to listen to myself and then speak up for myself. It wasn’t easy at first because I was always a people-pleaser.
In the past, I almost always gave in to other people’s preferences. It felt like keeping the peace by compromising and putting others first was the way. But it definitely doesn’t work when it comes to relationships. Our relationship was created by the two of us. As long as I didn’t get clear on what was important to me, Jachym would never be in an authentic and healthy relationship with me.
Don’t be afraid to dive deep and get to yourself. You will be respected and listened to. But first, you have to take that step and do it for yourself.
Just like we’ve discussed in the mindset section, you want to be a team with your spouse as you tackle the problem together. To do that ask yourself:
Are you willing to find another solution that neither of you has thought of yet?
If both of you answer yes, you are good to go. It’s important that you understand that this isn’t about compromising. You want to integrate both of your positions into your solution and not leave one of you out.
You can’t find this kind of solution if:
- You are stuck on the specifics of how everything needs to be done.
- You are unaware of the needs and values that ‘having your way’ fulfills.
- You cling to your position and don’t see the merit in your partner’s position.
- You don’t realize what the intention is of what you want.
The more you can let go of your specific preferences, the easier it is to see that there are various ways this can be met.
Geraldine dreams of her own cottage. She wants it really badly but Daniel just isn’t on board. He wants to save up for a rainy day. Geraldine feels frustrated about Daniel’s unwillingness to help her with her dream. Daniel is frustrated that Geraldine isn’t saving with him.
For Geraldine, that cottage is a childhood dream. She sees it as a statement of freedom, romance, and adventure.
For Daniel, saving money means he can feel safe. It’s important that he has this extra cushion so he doesn’t have to freak out about sudden expenses.
Do you see how money/cottage has a different meaning for each party? Is it really about the money or the cottage? No. These are simply symbols for the underlying needs and values. When you see this for yourself, suddenly the doors open up to how else these needs can be met.
You’re the creator of your relationship, if you want to change it, it starts with you. Always.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie
Step 4: Support Your Partner
Once you make the shift to be a Synergistic Couple, you want to support your partner. It becomes a no-brainer. You see that you form a greater whole together. What your partner wants is important for you to support. The same goes for your partner: they want to support you too to realize your dreams.
As long as we’re stuck in the idea of: ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘How can I get something from my partner?’ we’re going to struggle. It’s not about you. It’s about the greater unit that you and your partner are part of. What happens next is really interesting:
You’ll enjoy being of service to your partner more than getting what you want.
For whatever reason, giving to your spouse can be incredibly pleasurable. It’s deeply fulfilling and you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t do this before.
Step 5: Always Communicate
You don’t want to hold things in until you explode. We recommend communicating whenever something comes up. That’s how the relationship keeps growing. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes, it can feel easier to just say nothing. But that’s the wrong move.
Any conflict that is avoided can only be hidden for so long. As time passes, you increase the chance for more misunderstandings. For conflicts to be resolved for good, you have to keep the communication lines open. Why? Because you might realize that the solution you’ve come up with isn’t working. Instead of holding it in, you want to let your partner know so that you can find a better solution together.
There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind or realizing that something isn’t working. It’s simply more information for you and your partner to consider.
You might have learned by now that conflicts are innately neutral. It’s a natural byproduct of two different individuals being together. What makes conflicts so hard is when we feel disrespected, unheard and unloved as we try to resolve them.
By following the three crucial mindsets, you and your partner can form a strong foundation where conflicts aren’t a threat to your relationship anymore. By taking your current conflicts as an opportunity to understand one another better, your love has more space to grow.
There isn’t anything wrong with you. Most of us grew up without learning how to communicate properly. For example, I was raised in a household where there was constant unresolved conflict.
But we’re here to love. Not to over-compromise and to hold things in until loving doesn’t even feel like an option anymore. In this article, we didn’t just share a quick and easy tip to bandage up’ your current situation. No, we’re invested in making your relationship exceptional.
If we could overcome our challenges, so can you. The first step is to know that you can get back on track. The second step is to apply what you’ve learned to your relationship today. Don’t waste any more time fighting with your partner when you can be creating your dream relationship.
Respect your partner.
Let your next conflict deepen your love.
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