Conflict Resolution in Marriage – How to make your relationship better. Every couple has conflict. Sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s huge. We offer 6 Steps to resolve your marriage conflicts.
Conflict in marriage happens. No one has a perfect marriage (one that is free from any problems). We’ve all experienced the sting of arguments and tension that threatens our unity. A successful relationship is one that knows how to resolve marriage conflict.
Marital conflicts are not a bad thing. IF…(and that is a big ‘IF’) they are dealt with in a proactive, supportive manner.
Our goal is a happy marriage. Happiness is one of the marks of a healthy marriage. Not superficial happiness. This is often based on events and circumstances. It’s shallow at best. The kind of happiness that marks a great relationship is a consistent, internal rest you experience from your relationship.
Rachel Fearnley says this about the difference in happiness and joy.
Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts, and events.
I like that definition. One is external (happiness). The other (joy) is internal. How you feel internally will ultimately determine the course and outcome of your life. That is why it is important to seek a happy (joyful) marriage.
Life sometimes gets in the way and conflict arises. How do successful couples resolve conflicts? Are there keys to help couples deal with problems?
We believe there are keys. Let’s call them steps.
Steps take you to a higher level. That’s what we desire, To move past problems and be better off afterward. The goal is not to simply ‘stop fighting.’ It is to achieve deeper union as a married couple.
We offer six steps to reconcile conflict in marriage.
In This Article
- Six steps to marital conflict resolution.
- Final Thoughts on Conflict Resolution in Marriage
Six steps to marital conflict resolution.
These six steps will give you a blueprint for healthy conflict resolution with your spouse.
Step 1: Make a list of the last 10 conflicts in your marriage/relationship.
This is an important step because most couples fight but aren’t really sure what the real issues are.
Tension builds that results in an argument. The tension is often not related to the ‘event’ that triggered the conflict. It’s something else entirely.
In this step, you will list the past ten issues you argued about.
Is there a common theme? Do you find yourself fighting over the same issue again and again?
What triggers the argument? Is it something your spouse said? An attitude you resent?
As you make your list, note the triggers as well.
Now it’s time to move to Step #2…
Step 2: Define the REAL problem.
You have to look deeper than the trigger event to get at the core issue.
For example, one couple I worked with often fought over money. Let’s call them Alex and Susan.
Alex was a spender. Susan was a saver. Their money personality conflicted.
As we explored the events that triggered a fight, we discovered she felt insecure about their financial future. It was rooted in her family history.
Her father had done some things that caused them to lose their house when she was a teenager. He had mismanaged money in a way that created a serious financial strain. It took years to dig their way out of the financial hole.
Her father passed away leaving the family with crippling debt. She vowed she would never allow that to happen to her.
When Alex spent money frivolously (in her opinion) – even though he had a good job – she felt the pain of her family history. It made her feel insecure.
Once Alex discovered this, it helped him see his actions in a different light. They were able to reach a compromise about money that made them both feel good about things.
They never would have reached this point if they had failed to define the real problem.
Yes. It was about money. But not the way they thought. It was more about security. This proved to be a game-changer for them.
This allowed them to move to Step #3…
Step 3: Discuss possible alternatives.
Now that Alex and Susan identified the real issue, they spent time talking about a compromise.
Alex worked hard for his money and wanted to blow off steam on hobbies and a night out with the boys.
Susan needed to know he was being a good steward of his money and blowing it on dumb things.
They finally reached a compromise that satisfied both of their desires and needs.
Alex made sure he was always open about where the money went. Susan stopped nagging about his hobby.
Openness and transparency are key. Secrets destroy marriage. When your spouse doesn’t trust you, it is impossible for intimacy to grow.
It took a while, but Alex and Susan reached a compromise and created a plan of action that would hold them both accountable.
Step 4: Make a decision together.
Decide on a course of action, and commit to taking action immediately. If immediate action is not possible, come up with some time frame for taking future steps.
It is important to note (I hope it is obvious but I’ll point it out to be clear), their plan wasn’t initiated independent of each other. It was a joint plan. They both agreed on the course of action.
When one person dictates how things will be, it usually ends in resentment and lack of trust. This is a deadly combination for a relationship.
Work together to bring security to your marriage. If you need help setting marriage priorities, start here.
Step 5: Evaluate your decision.
Once you make a decision, the game is not over. You must evaluate to make sure how well it is working out for both of you. Personally and financially.
At this point, you might need to make some revisions if either party is not doing well with what has been agreed upon).
It’s all about communicating honestly about how you feel about how the plan is working.
Step 6: Stick To The Core Principles of Marriage
There are no shortcuts to developing a healthy and fulfilling relationship–it takes effort and commitment. Communication, affection, intimacy, and trust are four core principles of marriage communication that serve as the foundation for any healthy relationship.
The basic principles are pretty simple. You need to learn to stick with these three Core Rules of Marriage:
1) Make your spouse your best friend: people who make their spouse their closest confidante have happier marriages than those who don’t because they’re more open about what stresses them out or makes them happy).
Communication is a key element in maintaining a healthy relationship because it allows spouses to explore their feelings, thoughts, and ideas on a regular basis. In addition, spouses who communicate on a regular basis are better equipped to solve problems and make better decisions.
2) Nurture your relationship daily: by making time for daily conversation (about the kids, plans for the day, how was your day – it’s guaranteed these conversations will be more satisfying than catching up on TV shows), you’re making time for quality communication.
Quality time is important to building mutual trust and respect (people who are open with each other tend to be more trusting). This quality time should be unexpected (to avoid irritation – like it wasn’t expected, but you’re really glad that it happened).
This gives us the opportunity to connect on a new level with our partner, which requires us to make ourselves vulnerable.
3) If you really want it, work on it together: the most effective way to communicate is to find a compromise that makes each spouse feel validated and understood.
Divorce rates are much higher because one spouse feels invalidated and misunderstood by their spouse.
This compromise also helps maintain positive feelings toward each other in the long term (because things don’t get buried–they aren’t left unresolved so they cause conflict when they crop up later).
The key is to always keep the best interest of the relationship in mind.
Never forget you are partners in life. Treat each other as a partner and your marriage will flourish. Violate that principle and you are setting yourself up for trouble.
No one likes to be a pawn in the hands of someone else. Dictators rule by fear, intimidation, and manipulation. They are usually selfish and narcissistic.
Great leaders rule through the power of partnership. They treat people with value and seek to build trust.
Working together makes life easier.
Final Thoughts on Conflict Resolution in Marriage
In conclusion, conflict resolution in marriage is about building a bridge of trust so you can connect with your spouse instead of disconnect.
Communication is key in all relationships. It allows you to understand your partner, and it allows your partner to understand you. There is no such thing as too much communication or over-communicating with a spouse because it will only benefit the relationship.
Communication provides the opportunity to solve problems.
The strongest relationships are built on trust, respect, and open communication between partners.
These six steps give you solid conflict resolution strategies you can implement today.
- Step 1: Make a list of the last 10 conflicts in your marriage/relationship.
- Step 2: Define the REAL problem.
- Step 3: Discuss possible alternatives.
- Step 4: Make a decision together.
- Step 5: Evaluate your decision.
- Step 6: Stick To The Core Principles of Marriage
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
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The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini series you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Courses
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.