Conflict happens. Conflict is a natural part of two lives joining together. A classic
definition of conflict is two objects (people) trying to occupy the same space at the same time. That sounds like marriage to me. Imagine to small rivers flowing down the sides of opposite mountains toward a common ravine. As you see those rivers merge into one mighty river, you notice that where they merge, the water is rough. There are white-capped rapids as they form one single flow. Similarly, when two lives merge trouble seems to follow. Often that trouble is in five common areas of conflict.
- Closeness – The intimate nature of marriage and family provides for a “safe” place to air problems and to disagree. Simply spending time together provides opportunities to disagree.
- Simple Differences – You and your spouse are different people and have different personalities, different likes, different dislikes, and different family backgrounds. Each of these contributes to conflict in some way or another.
- Power Struggles -When you always have to have your way, when you have to win and be in control and so does your spouse, you will have conflict. Competition is not always healthy, especially within marriage.
- Irritations – Little things like toilet seats, toothpaste caps and tubes, clothes on floor, dirt on shoes, bed making, cups and dishes, mumbling, rattling keys, and so on are quite irritating. These little irritants can get on other’s nerves and can escalate when other conflicts arise in marriage.
- Expectations – You enter marriage expecting some things and certain behaviors from your spouse. Maybe your mom always prepared your dad’s plate and brought it to him, so you think that this is what wives do – yet your bride does not. Maybe her dad always made house and car repairs but you do not know a Philip’s head from an Allen wrench or an alternator from a starter and could care less how a dishwasher works.
Do you remember those two rivers that merged? Keep following the river they formed and you will find that the farther you go down stream the smoother the water becomes. The same is true with marriage when you “stick it out” and work together. Next week our plan is to be more specific on how to deal with conflict in marriage. Your HOMEWORK in the meantime is to be aware of these areas and look for ways you can deal with them in your own marriage.
As Amy (my wife) says, “Self discovery begins the road to recovery.”