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Managing Conflict in Your Spousal Relationship

Posted on May 22, 2024 in: Marriage

Managing Conflict in Your Spousal Relationship

When two people from diverse backgrounds, upbringing and life experiences come together, they are bound to experience some conflicts. No relationship, regardless of how great it is or how long it has endured, is immune from disagreements.

Whether those disputes are major or minor, the key to marital harmony is learning how to navigate through them. Sometimes, they can be readily resolved, while others may require greater patience and compromise on the part of each spouse. 

The first key is to resolve conflicts promptly. Letting them fester, ignoring them or putting them off can breed resentment and other negative attitudes. When resolving conflicts, it is important that you make sure it’s the right time for both of you to talk through the issue even if it means setting a date for the best time to talk. You can defer the issue to a better time, but you can’t dismiss it.

Solving a conflict in the heat of a moment can be challenging and may require that a couple take a break and come back to it when cooler heads prevail. When you do come back to resolve an issue, do so at a time when there are no distractions, the children are in bed or out of the house and technology is off — especially the cell phone. 

Stick to the issue and avoid bringing up past disagreements or start garbage dumping. If you are upset about something your spouse did a week ago and you didn’t bring it up at the moment, then shame on you. You can’t go back and bring it up now if you are trying to resolve something else.

Clearly communicating feelings and thoughts about the situation and what you want to see happen in the future is also helpful. Use “I” statements, rather than “you” statements in describing how you see the situation and what you want to see changed.

In discussing differences, take turns speaking and listening. Listening to your spouse gives him or her a clear message that you want to hear what he or she has to say. Try to resist the urge to interrupt the other or to defend your position. The goal is to try to understand things from the other’s point of view.

None of us enjoy confronting others, especially someone we are as connected to as our spouse. But avoiding conflict or hoping it will blow over doesn’t make the issue go away. In most instances, the issue grows until one spouse erupts, usually in a negative or unhealthy way for your relationship.

Consider this quote from Pope Francis on the issue of avoiding conflict: “What would a society, a family or a group of friends be like without tension and conflict. Do you know what it would be? A cemetery. Because only in dead things are there no tensions and no conflicts. When there is life, there is tension and there is conflict.”

Relationships take work and both partners have to want to put the work into making that relationship succeed. There are no right or wrong ways to manage conflicts. What matters is that you are both willing to put your heads together to find mutually agreeable solutions to your differences and that you are willing to do this together.

Let this be your shared purpose as a couple: to bring out the best in each other and to make your relationship the best it can be. Yes, relationships take work, but they also come with many blessings, the best of which is sharing your story with the love of your life, who, hopefully, is also your best friend. 

By Mary-Jo McLaughlin


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Managing Conflict in Your Spousal Relationship
When two people from diverse backgrounds, upbringing and life experiences come together, they are bound to experience some conflicts. No relationship, regardless of how great it is or how long it has endured, is immune from disagreements. Whether those disputes are major or minor, the key to marital harmony is learning how to navigate through them. Sometimes, they can be readily resolved, while others may require greater patience and compromise on the part of each spouse.  The first key is to resolve conflicts promptly. Letting them fester, ignoring them or putti...

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