Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, and it’s no different in marriage. The key to a healthy, lasting marriage lies not in avoiding conflict but in resolving it effectively. It’s not the conflict, but the way a couple resolves the conflict that is the key.
Unfortunately, many couples make common mistakes when attempting to resolve issues, which can exacerbate the problem. We recently did a great podcast with a divorce attorney who is trying to save marriages.. yes you heard that correctly. She had some of the best conflict resolution advice we have ever heard.
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In this article, we’ll explore eight mistakes to avoid when trying to resolve conflict with your spouse, each with insights on how to handle them more constructively.
Creating More Conflict
One of the most counterproductive mistakes is responding to conflict with aggression or hostility, which only creates more issues. Yelling, name-calling, or escalating the argument can damage trust and emotional well-being.
Solution: Practice calm and respectful communication, focusing on the issue at hand rather than attacking your spouse personally. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns.
Having to Be Right and Win the Argument
The desire to win an argument at any cost can lead to bitterness and resentment. Marriage is not about winning; it’s about finding common ground and understanding.
Solution: Shift your mindset from winning to problem-solving. Strive for compromise and mutual understanding, which will strengthen your connection in the long run.
Blaming Your Spouse
Blaming your spouse for every problem that arises can create a toxic environment. It prevents you from addressing issues collaboratively and can lead to defensiveness.
Solution: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings. Instead of assigning blame, express how certain behaviors or situations affect you and discuss solutions together.
Avoiding difficult conversations by tuning out emotionally can be tempting but detrimental. Ignoring issues only allows them to fester and potentially escalate.
Solution: Practice active listening, even when discussing challenging topics. Show empathy and engage in the conversation, ensuring your spouse feels heard and valued.
Avoiding conflict altogether by not addressing issues can be equally damaging. Unresolved issues can accumulate over time, eroding the foundation of your marriage.
Not communicating, or doing the “silent treatment” will be detrimental to your marriage. This is probably the worst thing you can do is shut off communication.
Check out this great article: Tips for Excellent Communication in Marriage.
Solution: Encourage open communication in your relationship. Create a safe space for both you and your spouse to express concerns without fear of judgment.
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Stubbornly refusing to compromise can lead to a stalemate, where neither partner is satisfied. A lack of compromise can leave both spouses feeling unheard and frustrated.
Solution: Be willing to meet in the middle and find solutions that work for both of you. Compromise is a vital skill for a healthy marriage.
Ignoring the Problem
Sometimes, individuals hope that problems will disappear if they’re ignored. However, unaddressed issues can resurface later, often with greater intensity.
Solution: Confront problems as they arise. Discuss concerns promptly and work together to find solutions, preventing long-term resentment from building.
Staying Mad and Not Getting Over It
Holding onto grudges and staying angry indefinitely can poison a marriage. It impedes emotional intimacy and keeps old wounds from healing.
Solution: Allow space for forgiveness and healing. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, including you and your spouse. Work together to move past the issue and rebuild trust.
Conflict is an inevitable part of any marriage, but it need not be destructive. By avoiding these common mistakes and adopting healthier communication strategies, you can resolve issues in a way that strengthens your relationship rather than undermining it. Remember, marriage is about partnership, understanding, and growth, and effective conflict resolution is a crucial component of a successful union.
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