Trying to solve conflict by doing the same thing over and over again will get you a spouse who feels like they are going insane. It will not strengthen your marriage.
You can’t have a relationship with anyone without having conflicts. You especially can’t marry someone and expect there to never be conflict. Some amount of conflict in marriage is necessary. There is no better way to strengthen your marriage than being willing to face conflicts that arise head on.
There is much to be learned about yourself and your spouse when dealing with marital conflict. Conflict teaches you when you are wrong and how to take responsibility. It also, if handled correctly, teaches you to focus on the future of your marriage instead of the conflict in your marriage.
Being willing to actively engage in solving conflict as it arises, puts to bed problems in the marriage and enables you to enjoy the good aspects of your marriage. Not being willing to actively engage in finding solutions to conflict, keeps you focused on the bad in your marriage and enables resentment to foster.
There is no such thing as a perfect spouse. If you need to be viewed as perfect or, need your marriage to be viewed as perfect, you will avoid conflict which also means avoiding the potential for growth in your marriage and connection with your spouse.
3 Ways to Use Conflict to Strengthen Your Marriage and Relationship
1. View Conflict as an Opportunity to Grow
Taking the opportunity to work through a problem together and solve that problem will help you and your spouse grow together. And, of course, growth only happens if the conflict is solved in the proper manner.
Conflict isn’t solved when one or the other spouse is being selfish or comes off as defensive. If your only concern is proving yourself right, you won’t promote growth in your marriage, you will stifle growth. Go into conflict and problem solving willing to listen to your spouse and see their point of view. When conflict is approached as a way to learn about your spouse and yourself, conflict resolution will be the outcome and not War of the Roses.
Conflict is an opportunity to solve a problem. It isn’t an opportunity to prove yourself right. Keep that in mind and you will experience personal growth and deeper bonding with your spouse.
2. Make Your Spouse’s Feelings as Important or More Important Than Your Own
Most of us will go on the defensive when questioned about our motivations or desires. It’s human nature to take care of number one. After marriage though, your marriage and spouse should define how you take a stand defensively. Some will tell you that your spouse’s feelings always come before your own. I don’t adopt that attitude.
What if your spouse feels you need a new $50,000 Mercedes and you’re living on a Kia income? In such situations your spouse’s feelings are wrong. Just because they are wrong, doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t important. When you can take the Mercedes out of the equation and deal with the conflict based on feelings, if you love your spouse, solutions will be easier to find.
A loving marriage requires that you ALWAYS take into consideration how your words and actions impact your spouse’s feelings. And, your ability to know when your spouse’s feelings are not only as important as your feelings but, are more important.
Marital growth in your marriage should be your main priority and this won’t happen if you don’t hold your spouse’s feelings in high regard.
3. Stay Open to Learning from Past Conflicts
I have a friend going through a divorce. Her husband is into golfing and fishing at the exclusion of time with his wife and children. It’s a conflict they’ve dealt with for years. She communicated her dissatisfaction that every weekend he was off golfing or fishing and made no effort to do things with her and the children as a family. He made the mistake of promising to change but, never changing.
We all make mistakes, some of us make the same mistake over and over again. For conflict resolution to work, you have to change the behaviors you’ve promised to change. Or, maybe you have to change the way you engage in conflict. Trying to solve the conflict by doing the same thing over and over again will get you a spouse who feels like they are going insane. And a highly frustrated spouse will soon check out of the relationship and marriage altogether.
If you make a promise, keep it. If constantly become defensive during the conflict, let down your defenses. When resolving conflict in your marriage pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work. Stop repeating the “doesn’t work approach. Happy marriages flourish when conflict is solved not when conflicts are repeatedly dealt with, with the wrong approach.
Being willing to learn what does and doesn’t work helps you sharpen the best way to solve conflict in your marriage. Not only will you grow as a person but your marriage will become happier and healthier.