Last week, we wrote about the inevitability of conflict in marriage. If conflict is two objects or people trying to occupy the same space at the same time, then marriage is conflict. Since conflict is a part of our marriage relationship, how can we best handle conflict?
- Learn to Adapt. To adapt is the ability to change your own behavior or attitude. If my behavior is causing any part of the conflict I can change. If my attitude toward my spouse’s behavior is part of the conflict, I can change my attitude.
- Face Conflict – Do Not Avoid. Conflict will happen and that conflict is neither good or bad. How we face conflict determines the impact it has on our relationship. If you sense conflict in your marriage talk it out and work it out. Get outside help if necessary, but deal with it. When we avoid conflict, it only grows deeper roots.
- Avoid Recycling Conflict. Don’t store it up in emotional boxes and suitcases for later use. Deal with conflict as each instance arises and the get rid of it.
- Avoid Hiding Your True Feelings. Some call this being Passive-Aggressive. This is behaving aggressively in an indirect way so you can play off your aggressive behavior as unintentional. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites – I think that is a good word for Passive-Aggressive behavior. Be open and honest with each other don’t hide behind false pleasantries.
- Look for the Underlying Issue. Couples need to do their best to figure out why conflicts arise and stop the conflict at their source. Focusing simply on the specific event will not stop future conflicts of similar types if you do not seek to solve the root issue. Ask yourself, “Why does this upset me?” “Why do I have to have this go my way?” “Why are we arguing about this?’ along with similar questions. Then work on what you learn.
- Be Patient and Understanding. Treat your spouse the way you want them to treat you. Approach conflict as if the other person is not intentionally hurting you. Treat them lovingly.
- Be Committed. Commit to a long-term marriage. Commit to a goal of making your marriage work. Get the word DIVORCE out of your marriage vocabulary and work together to make your marriage last.
Next week I will try to deal with some practical problem (conflict) solving skills we all need in our marriages.
Note: The material last week and this week is from my notes from the following book:
Stinnett, Nick, Dr., Nancy Stinnett, Dr. Donnie Hilliard, Magnificent Marriage: 10
Beacons Show the Way to Marriage Happiness, (Pillar Press:Montgomery, AL) 2000, pp. 31-48