We are all really busy with life. It looks different for each of us depending on what stage of life we are in. Some of us are taking care of little kids, others are taking care of aging parents. Some of us are consumed with school, others work. We also know it’s often a challenge to find the time to focus on your marriage. So, we want to help you with that. We’ll post articles, videos, and audio here to help you strengthen your marriage.
by Wayne Grant, M.D.
When two or more humans gather there is eventually conflict. The presence of conflict is a sign that we are free, independent beings with “minds of our own.” Conflict occurs as one free independent being rubs up against another independent being creating a clash of wills.
While conflict will occur in a variety of circumstances, it is most intense and potentially most hurtful in the intimate closeness of marriage and family. The fact that conflict occurs in marriage is not surprising given that in this relationship two humans are living in the same physical space and are trying to occupy the same emotional space. The flare up of conflict is not uncommon and is not necessarily harmful to the marriage. It can actually be helpful when handled quickly and openly in that it can lead to honesty between the partners. It will be harmful, though, when the conflict is left to fester and allowed to grow in persistence and intensity. Thus, it is important to resolve conflict expeditiously.
As Paul states:
Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25-32)
There is no end to books and essays addressing the subject of conflict resolution. In this blog, however, we plan to keep it simple—we offer conflict resolution one word at a time. In doing so we will take a quick look at healthy and unhealthy methods for resolving conflict:
- Toxic: Unhealthy methods of Conflict Resolution
Demand: One partner says “You must give up! It is my way or the highway!” This fatalistic attitude does not lead to resolution. It does mean that the relationship is getting close to being on life support.
Defer: One partner says, “I give up, you can have it your way. But I am not happy about it.”
Deflect: One partner says, “I’m out of here; I don’t want to deal with this.” Then one or both partners turn and run away from any effort at resolution.
- Tonic: Healthy methods of Conflict Resolution
Give: A loving partner says, “I go along with what you wish. I am not one hundred percent for this but out of my love for you, I give my consent as a gift—and I will be happy about it.”
Negotiate: The partners say to each other, “Let’s talk about this. What if I do this and you will do that.” Then the two partners come to a workable compromise that they both can accept.
Agree to disagree: The partners share with love these words, “We cannot come to an acceptable compromise that we both can accept. Let us table it for now. We don’t want this issue to come between us or compromise our relationship.”
- In the Process of Dealing with Conflict:
Focus on the positive
Show genuine interest in your partner
Be affectionate at all times
Show you care about your partner’s feelings and opinions
Be accepting of your partner’s effort at compromise
Appreciate your partner’s good qualities—and good opinions
Share the joy.
Heard while watching a Hallmark movie: “Sometimes being kind is more important than being right.”
Regardless of whether you’ve been married for less than one year or over 50 years, there is one constant challenge facing every couple—to connect. MarriedPeople Monthly is a monthly, mush-free email full of ideas and insights that spark great conversation and help you laugh. You’ll find plenty of go-and-do’s that you can actually go and do. You will be encouraged, we promise.