Relationships are never completely free of conflict. You two are individuals, with two different points of view and different ways of dealing with things. You each will likely make decisions that–intentionally or unintentionally–hurt or anger the other person.
Understanding that conflict is bound to happen doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable when it happens, of course. But it can help you both to navigate an issue in a more conscious, purposeful manner, with the goal of solving the conflict, not hurting or outdoing one another.
Marriages may have problems, but over 50% of people manage to make it work over the long haul. The key is resolving disputes before they spiral out of control.
Here are some tips to help you do that when you run into conflict in your marriage:
Discuss the Conflict Calmly
It’s important to note that small arguments can spiral into large ones. So you should try to address minor issues before they become something more difficult to handle. The first thing you need to do to keep that from happening is keep communication lines open. There are plenty of ways to communicate with your partner.
Much of the time, conflict arises because of miscommunications that you can avoid if you just talk about it. It’s common to have an argument occur because your partner was malicious about something. But on the other hand, your partner may not even realize what happened. What you see as ignoring your frustration may just be cluelessness.
By bringing it up and asking to talk about it, you’ll both come to an understanding of what went wrong and how to fix it.
Listen As Well as Talk
Who is right every time you have an argument with your partner? Of course, it’s you! Everyone thinks that; it’s human nature. However, especially when you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important to take a step back and realize that you might have done something wrong. You may be the one who needs to apologize and fix things.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express your opinion, of course. You may be frustrated about something. Or you have a problem with something your partner is doing. Either way, it’s understandable to express that frustration to a degree.
The thing is, though, that you need to be receptive to the fact that you may need to change things as well. If you both recognize that, you’ll be on the fast track to communicating more effectively.
Show Respect for One Another
Ultimately, your intention with communicating and listening should be to understand and be understood. It should come from a place of mutual respect. That respect is something that should be inherent to your relationship, something that remains in place even when there’s a disagreement.
If you or your partner find this element lacking, then there could be issues in your relationship larger than the specific argument at hand.
Get a Mediator, If Necessary
If the conflict winds up being substantial, and it’s one that you cannot seem to resolve on your own, you may find it helpful to bring a professional into the conversation. Marriage counselors have the training necessary to help you get through a conflict. And they can also provide help if an argument reveals deeper relationship issues.
If you can’t agree that a counselor is the way to go, perhaps just talk to someone who’s unbiased and willing to listen. The best person for this job is someone in your circle that you both respect and are willing to listen to.
Set Boundaries to Avoid Future Conflicts
Communication may be useful in fixing a conflict, but it really comes in handy to help set expectations and stop issues from coming up in the first place. Tackling certain common conflicts head-on can help you to avoid these same issues in the future. Try to recognize triggers. Anticipate the things that seem to initiate conflict.
For example, you may really hate it when your partner leaves dirty dishes in the sink. And it hurts your feelings when he or she goes out with friends without discussing it with you first. Conversely, your partner may be irritated tripping over your shoes everyday, or that you always seem to forget to take the garbage out.
Taking the time to explain your needs to your partner, and vice versa, can help you get to new levels of understanding in your relationship. And it can stop little annoyances and arguments from continuing to happen moving forward or escalating into bigger problems.
Conflict in a relationship isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It may not be fun, and it’s absolutely something that requires work to fix. But it’s going to happen, and the important thing is how you deal with it.
By actually talking through it with your partner, you’ll be able to establish what happened and how you’re going to deal with it going forward. And communication can help when you need to establish some new boundaries. Talking and listening with respect is what can help you in your quest to manage conflict healthily when it does arise.
Being able to do so can help you create a strong and healthy relationship that can weather and even be made stronger by conflict, not overtaken by it.
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