How to Resolve Conflicts in Marriage
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Marriage isn’t easy! Learning to live with another person takes practice. It’s especially difficult when you love that person! My husband and I got married young, so we’ve had a lot of practice getting into arguments. If you find yourself going head-to-head with your husband often, it’s time for Conflict Resolution 101! Keep reading to learn what’s really behind your conflicts in marriage, how to get out of the argument cycle, and how to move forward after a blowout.
My Theory on Conflicts in Marriage
You’ve heard of marriage as two people joining together to be one flesh. But you’re also probably aware that to have a long and healthy marriage, it’s good to have interests and hobbies outside of each other. This balance – wanting to be the same and different at the same time – is the basis for all conflicts in marriage. It’s the balance between our need for connection, and our need for independence. The part that’s difficult is that everyone’s levels of need for each are different. That’s my theory, anyway!
Why Conflicts in Marriage Happen
So why do conflicts in marriage happen so often? When our desire for connection or independence collide with the other person’s desire, it creates a conflict. For example, if you’re an introvert, you might find your need for independence is higher than your extrovert husband’s. Or, if your love language is quality time together, that might interfere with your husband’s need to decompress after work.
This mismatch can spill over into small things, like when you want to maintain your independence by keeping your reality TV show binges to yourself, but your husband is missing connection by feeling left out. It could even be the cause of huge rifts, like one spouse seeking connection in an affair, or feeling suffocated and leaving to find their own independence again.
What to Do When You’re Stuck in the Cycle
When you and your husband’s desires for connection and independence are mismatched, you’ll find yourselves stuck in a cycle of conflicts in marriage. But don’t worry – there’s a way out of the cycle! Your mismatch doesn’t have to permanent. Follow these steps to learn how to end conflicts in marriage.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way!
Realize that you have the power to end the cycle! Now you understand that your conflicts in marriage are caused by mismatched desires. This knowledge will open up a world of understanding about your partner. You’ll begin to notice his desires and whether he’s yearning for connection or independence. Now, you can meet his need in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Directly Meet the Need
If you notice your conflicts in marriage are related to his needing more connection, offer a long hug or cuddle. Or if he’s looking for independence, give him permission to spend the morning by himself. Meeting his need directly will often have an immediate result.
But What About Me?
If you’re the one with unmet needs, consider asking for exactly what you need. We search for our needs for independence or connection in every aspect in our lives together: our meals, our chores, our TV-watching habits. Try getting a direct hit of what you need – with alone time or connection time – without the guise of arguing over what to do, eat, watch, or clean. If that fills you up, you’ll come back to the greater conversation with your husband refreshed and with a clearer head.
Play Opposite Day
One of the best ways to reduce conflicts in marriage is to have empathy. When he’s explaining how he feels, really try to put yourself in his shoes and understand how he’s feeling. There’s a good chance you’ve felt that way before, too. Being understanding will help you figure out what he’s really missing. If you often find yourself thinking about your counter-argument before he finishes his sentence, practice taking ten-second pauses between each person’s turn to talk. This will give you time to formulate your response, so you can focus on actually listening! And the same for him.
He Doesn’t Want to Hurt You
If your husband is having trouble understanding your differences in need for independence and connection, it’s probably not because he wants to hurt you! It might take a while for him to understand that you two really are different people, and that’s okay. If you and your husband have been struggling for a few weeks or months, consider reading about rough patches in marriage here. But if this is a big, persistent problem, consider getting marriage counseling or talking to a couple you both look up to. Understanding and accepting that both of you can have different needs is an important part of growing as a couple and reducing conflicts in marriage.
How do you and your husband overcome conflicts in marriage? Tell me in the comments!
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