Resolving Conflicts

The Presence of Conflicts

Before marriage, they agreed on everything. After marriage, they fought about everything. Why do we have conflicts after marriage that never appeared before marriage? After marriage and after the “in love” obsession fades as it always does, we revert to our natural tendency to think that “my way is the best way.” We seek to use our persuasive logic to convince the spouse. When they are unconvinced, we get angry and often use cutting derogatory remarks.

Want to solve your conflicts? Here’s an idea: never discuss conflicts “on the run”. Rather set aside time specifically for resolving conflict. I suggest that once a week you have a “conflict resolution session.” The rest of the week you can focus on the things you like about each other. Make positive comments about your spouse. This creates a healthy climate in which to discuss your conflicts. Every resolved conflict brings you closer together.

The Way to Discuss Problems

When you sit down to discuss a conflict, take turns talking. Start with five minutes each. Then you can have as many turns as needed, but don’t interrupt each other with your own ideas. Wait for your turn.

Ask questions to help you understand your spouse. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your spouse and see the world through their eyes. Try to understand what they are thinking and feeling, and why it is so important to them. Never condemn their feelings or thoughts. They are unique and will not see the world as you see it. The point is not to condemn, but to find a workable solution that addresses both of your concerns. When you have listened, try affirming your spouse’s ideas and feelings. Sympathetic listening and affirming statements create a positive climate in which to look for solutions.

Goal: Finding Solutions

Humans are all unique. We see the world differently. The common mistake is to try to force one’s spouse to see the world “the way I see it.” Resolving conflicts requires that you treat you spouse’s ideas and feelings with respect, not condemnation. The purpose is not to prove your spouse wrong, but to find a “meeting of the minds”, a place where the two of you can work together as a team. You don’t have to agree in order to resolve a conflict. You simply have to find a workable solution to your differences.

“What would be workable for you?” is a good place to begin. Now you are focusing on resolution rather than differences. Two adults looking for a solution are likely to find one.