Have you ever asked yourself: Why do marriages fail? One of the reasons is that the couple does not know how to resolve conflict in a marriage. Many couples think that avoiding conflict in marriage is the way to go. The spouses in a great marriage know there will always be conflict in marriages and they develop their own ways of handling marital problems when they arise.
Every couple has conflict. There are NO exceptions. The only difference is whether you acknowledge the conflict when you feel it or you sweep it under the rug. Problem is: if you sweep it under the rug long enough, you will be tripping over it every time you walk.
Suppressing Conflict is like planting IEDs...when you bury a feeling or reaction, you bury it alive. It continues to live on within you...until your partner steps in just the right place. Then the explosion. By the way, if one partner thinks there is a marital problem--there IS A PROBLEM in the marriage.
The most striking finding for me--of couples avoiding conflict in marriage--is that the Internet searches for divorce issues are much greater than the searches for solving marital problems.
Here is an example of marital problems I have heard many times. The wife thinks her husband is lazy and does not want to help with the household chores...but what is really bothering her is that he is acting like another kid in the household, rather than a partner. She tends to assign him chores or remind him to do them. And arguing about who does what chore never seems to resolve the conflict.
Okay, so the husband is acting more like the irresponsible kid who does not do a chore until he is told he has to do so. But, on closer inspection, his wife also treats him like a child...maybe yells at him like a child...or takes over because she feels she does a better job. It is a vicious cycle with no definitive beginning or end.
So the rest of the real marital problem is:
The wife is treating her husband like a child and he probably feels belittled and negated and therefore is no mood to chip in and help like an equal partner. The husband is now acting like another one of the children and does not contribute as a true marriage partner...he waits to be told to do each thing and the wife feels like she has another child.
It is a vicious cycle and no amount of trying to figure out who 'started it' will really benefit them in anyway. The point is that now, it is on automatic pilot.
So, how good is their sex life? Probably not very good. Who wants to be having sex with your child or your mother? That is because the underlying issue--the real marital problem--is that she feels like she has another child rather than a mate. And that conflict has not been addressed.
So how do your resolve conflict in a marriage? Here is a structure that might help you get started if this is an area of your marriage where you want to see improvement.
5 Steps to Resolving Conflict in a Marriage
1. Acknowledging that there is an unresolved problem
2. Truly listening to the point of view of your spouse
3. Understanding and Accepting the underlying feelings of both husband and wife
4. Assessing the Real Marital Problem and Owning up to your respective roles in the conflict
5. Finding new ways to act that are acceptable to both of you.
Keep these two principles in mind: (1) If you keep doing the same thing--you can expect the same result and (2) You can change yourself: you cannot change another person.
So... the most important steps in resolving marital conflict are (1) acknowledging that there is a marital problem and (2) determining what the real problem is. If you are having the same argument over and over, it means that you are not discussing the real problem. That's why your efforts to resolve the conflict are not working. A great marriage knows that avoiding conflict in marriage does not work in the long term and they have developed their own ways of successfully handing marital problems.
Gloria Waite is an expert on love relationships, who gives no-nonsense love advice to singles and couples, men and women. People, who know Gloria, credit her success to 30+ years of experience as psychologist and her natural gift for 'getting it' right away and coming up with practical advice and solutions.