When you’re saying “I do,” it’s with the hope that the ‘happily ever after’ you’ve dreamed up will now come to pass. However, the nasty fights eventually roll around. And you realize that sharing a roof with the person you just fought with can drive you mad. That’s when understanding how to resolve conflict in a marriage becomes top priority.
The causes of conflict in a marriage are influenced by how each couple operates. One thing that remains common is that all couples fight – even your obnoxious friends who always claim otherwise (we’re on to you, Marty and Linda). In fact, we’d even go as far as to say that arguing in a marriage is healthy, as long as you know the art of understanding each other and resolving marital conflicts.
During such fights, you get to know what’s a dealbreaker and what’s not, and just how much your spouse hates shoes in the living room. With the help of consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert, let’s understand how you can deal with conflict in marriage and feel closer to one another.
Common Causes Of Conflict In A Marriage
As we mentioned, the causes of conflict in a marriage can be as unique as couples themselves. Farrell hates how Jolene never rinses her dishes or puts her dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Mariah hates how Janice always wants to hog down her food, never even taking the time to chew.
What leads to problems, however, is when Farrell and Mariah both let their emotions take over and turn completely manageable fights into ugly episodes. They fight dirty, and the snarky remarks bring about more problems than they intended. It can often signal a lack of respect in the relationship, and that’s exactly why knowing how to resolve problems in a marriage is essential.
However, before we get to that and understand how spouses can reduce marital conflict, it’s important to take a look at the most common causes of screaming matches and name-calling:
- Unmet expectations: As you’ll soon find out, understanding how to resolve conflict in a marriage also largely revolves around voicing your expectations and working around them. Only through communication can issues like these be resolved
- Money issues: Once you’re married, finances go from being an afterthought to something that determines the health of your relationship. “When there’s no openness about how you’re going to deal with finances and what your plan of action is, it often leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication,” says Jaseena. According to a study, financial hardship is one of the major reasons for divorce
- Incompatibility under the sheets: Lack of sexual compatibility can so often be the reason for marital conflict. It’s no surprise that as per research, unmet needs and sexual dissatisfaction are often causes for infidelity as well. So it’s clear to see just how big of a problem this is. How to resolve conflict in a marriage revolves around understanding exactly where the incompatibility lies, so it’s important to know what you two don’t connect on
- Parenting disputes: It’s something that people do not find out about each other till they’re already parents since nobody asks their partner how they are as a parent (frankly, it’s because most don’t know themselves). “I’ve seen that not agreeing on how you need to parent your child is one of the major causes of conflict in marriage,” notes Jaseena
- Lack of healthy communication: We get it, understanding how to resolve conflict in a marriage isn’t the easiest thing in the world. However, sweeping a heated argument under the rug is. It’s a lot more tempting to let something go than to talk about it, which can lead to ineffective communication in most marriages
These are a few of the most common causes of conflict in marriage, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that you’ve fought about something listed above with your partner. But how to resolve disagreements in a marriage/relationship is about understanding how to resolve conflicts between husband and wife, or between partners. Let’s take a look at some tips.
7 Expert Tips To Resolve Conflict In A Marriage
“I don’t know how to resolve conflict in a marriage, and it often leads to minor fights turning into very, very ugly ones,” notes Macy, adding, “We fought about being late to an event, which somehow led to a fight about how I am as a person and how he could not deal with it. We spend nights apart just because we can’t resolve these heated arguments that come up. Everything turns into a big issue, and we end up stonewalling each other.”
When you’re not sure of the steps in resolving interpersonal conflict between husband and wife, or between partners, it often leads to janky communication. That, in turn, leads to more misunderstandings. Jaseena points out 7 tips on how you can resolve issues with your spouse, so you don’t end up getting a one-way ticket to the sofa:
Related Reading: 7 Point Ultimate Happy Marriage Checklist You MUST Follow
1. State your expectations and listen to theirs to avoid conflict
When asked how to resolve marriage problems, Jaseena was quick to answer with, “Stating your expectations is the first step. Make sure you express what you want from your partner, and that you make them feel heard when they tell you what they need. From there, you can begin finding common ground.
“Whether you’re fighting about parenting style or finances, the most important thing to do is state what you’re expecting from your partner, and make them understand that you acknowledge what they expect as well. Talk about things like who is going to contribute to what, how you expect to handle the finances, or who plays the role of what as parents. By discussing your expectations in a relationship, you make sure nothing is left to chance.” Jaseena adds the following tips:
- Have a healthy dialogue: Make communication your biggest strength in this relationship if you are serious about learning how spouses can reduce marital conflict
- Don’t just think of your personal interests: While it is necessary that you lay out your expectations, do manage them in a way to accommodate the other person. Think about your needs, and how they fit in the bigger scheme of things and whether your partner can provide for those or not
- Give full attention to them as well: Understanding one another is key, and so you will also have to consciously listen to your partner’s demands. Don’t be quick to judge them or dismiss them if you want to know how you can deal with conflict in marriage. Take time to understand what they are asking of you
Perhaps what’s most important about this way to resolve a problem with your spouse is that you make sure you’re not turning the whole thing ugly and that apathy is not your go-to response.
2. Approach communication the right way
Jaseena explains how you must approach communication while understanding how to resolve a conflict between husband and wife, or between partners. “Be open-minded. When you talk about things like sexual incompatibility, don’t walk into it with a preconceived mindset. Try to listen to your partner’s point of view as well.” She adds the following:
- Stay composed: Instead of slamming the door open and screaming out, “How DARE you do that to me?” take a moment to speak calmly to them. Otherwise, you would only makes things worse. Understand that screaming and hurling accusations or abuses is not going to do anyone any favors so steer clear of such behavior
- Don’t let them disrespect you: If they are being rude, don’t feel frustrated and give in to them. Try to calmly reason with them and enable them to be better
- Don’t have an accusatory tone: Even if it’s something that’s really bothering you, try not to accuse your partner and point fingers at them or keep blame-shifting. Discuss the conflict at hand, and be willing to look at the bigger picture instead of an isolated incident
When figuring out how to resolve problems in a marriage, one of the biggest things to keep in mind is that effective communication only takes place when you’re not yelling or making sarcastic comments.
3. For resolving conflict in a marriage, you have to take responsibility
When you care more about being right, you’re stating that you care more about winning. You keep a scorecard, and you care more about your partner apologizing to make you feel validated. As a result, you’ll see more resentment in your marriage.
- Your goal is to reconcile: Instead of making your point of view the sole focus of the argument, try to work on reconciliation instead of whose ego is being stroked and whose isn’t
- Tell them that you are on the same side: If your partner is feeling threatened by your words and behavior, you must reassure them that you have good intentions. That you two are trying to work toward the same goal and have one purpose, which is to be happy together
- Be open-minded: When your partner points out your flaws, don’t make it about how you feel. Instead, try to think of what is making them feel that way and see if there is any merit to what the other partner is saying to you
“In the process of understanding how to resolve issues in a marriage, it’s important to also learn to own up to your own mistakes. Even if you are convinced of the fact that you didn’t make any, listen to your partner and own up to how you made them feel,” says Jaseena.
4. Stonewalling needs to be avoided at all costs
While it’s tempting to scream out, “You never listen to me. All you do is always look at your point of view” and storm out, it’s just going to lead to more arguments and problems down the line. Also, don’t use the words “always” and “never.” You’re supposed to talk about the incident that happened, not a generalized view of the person.
- Take space, but not for too long: Coming back to the point of how to resolve arguments between husband and wife, or between partners, know that avoiding all communication because you’re upset is not going to work. It’s basically like expecting them to know all the right things to say, which is going to lead to more unmet needs
- Don’t bring in unrelated issues and sulk: Or every conversation will turn into an argument. All the little things which you brushed aside earlier may crop up and worsen the situation. Try to consciously avoid bringing in any other disagreements, and try to focus on one issue for that time
- Have a healthy body language: Even if you two are not speaking, do not go around banging doors or walking out of a room that they enter. Don’t make angry faces at them if they try to speak to you
Whether you look at biblical ways to resolve arguments in marriage or go by what your friend told you the other day, it’s clear to see that there needs to be mutual communication to cultivate any reconciliation. Jesus Christ or your best friend can’t always help you. You need to help yourself too.
5. How to resolve disagreements in a marriage? Compromise
If you sink your teeth in and never let go of the “my way or the highway” approach, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Be willing to talk about what works for the both of you but make sure your anger isn’t making you demand unrealistic things. While figuring out how to resolve problems in a marriage, introducing empathy into your dynamic is going to help out a lot. Set new boundaries in your relationship, talk about an arrangement that benefits you both, or come up with a tolerable system.
- You might have to change your ways: In marriage, you two are trying to make it work for the long haul. This is one of the guidelines for resolving conflicts in marriage that will take you guys a long way. Don’t let your personal struggles spill into your relationship. You should try to continue to change and be a better partner for the one you love
- Don’t lose your individuality: There is a fine line between making a compromise to make someone happy and losing your personality. Make sure you are paying attention to what your partner is asking of you, but you do not always have to move mountains for them if it is affecting your core belief system
- Test your limits: You will be surprised at how much you can change for a person you love, and how it can better your relationship. Show your partner that you have the same mind regarding wanting to be happy together
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6. Tackle arguments and lead them to discussions
Name-calling, sarcasm, or snarky remarks will cause lasting damage to your connection. Another thing you must avoid is jumping to conclusions. For example, when your partner says, “I wish we could talk in a more civil manner,” don’t assume that they’re criticizing the way you speak to them. Perhaps they just genuinely wish you’d both calm down and engage in healthy conflict resolution.
- Find the root cause: “One of the first steps in resolving interpersonal conflict between husband and wife is to get to the root cause of the problem, not to blame each other in a generalized way. Have a conversation without being nasty. The whole point is to reconcile, not to cause more problems with a red flag conversation,” says Jaseena
- Stay focused on the current conflict: If you are upset about how messy you are, don’t bring up how they did not spend time with you last week. That is a conversation for a different time. At present, you already have another disagreement at hand
When you both approach it in the right way, you’re bound to reach a conclusion pretty soon. Even if you were to look at biblical ways to resolve problems in marriage, you’re probably not going to be asked to scream at the other person, right?
7. Remind each other that you care
Even if we provide you with several strategies and tips for resolving conflicts in relationships, they won’t work without this one. When you’re both screaming at each other, calling each other not-so-nice names, and when the sarcastic comments don’t stop rolling in, it’s easy to think your partner doesn’t care anymore. When you understand how to resolve issues in a marriage, you understand that making your partner feel cared for is an utmost priority.
- They need to know you love them: Only once they know that you care about them and they care about you will you both even try to move toward reconciliation and a healthy relationship, instead of focusing on who is “right.” You both wouldn’t be fighting for the future of your relationship if you didn’t think it existed, right? Don’t let any kind of empty conceit ruin your relationship
- Take a breather: In the middle of the argument, consider pausing or asking for a time-out. Compliment them, thank them for something they did earlier, or just give them a kiss on the forehead and make eye contact in a loving way. Find some kind of common ground
In the heat of the moment, understanding how to resolve problems in a marriage is probably something most couples don’t consider. However, to ensure a harmonious union (read: tolerable union), you must try to keep your cool whilst striving toward reconciliation. Show them that you are of the same mind about this and you are not against each other.
- Healthy communication habits are the foremost way to resolve issues in a marriage. Keep an open mind and listen to your partner while carefully presenting your side of the story
- Relationships are about compromise and you might have to make a few along the way to keep your relationship going
- Don’t stonewall your partner or give them the silent treatment as it will further put a dent in your connection
- To eventually reconcile with your partner, it’s okay to take a pause in the argument and tell them you still love them
If constant arguments and animosity are tarnishing your relationship, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you learn the art of conflict resolution, which will effectively improve your marriage and manage conflict. Whether it’s following five steps or fifteen, what is most important is that you are committed to making these things better with your partner.