It felt authentic, perfect as Sirius against the night carpet sky. You could feel it; we were “meant for each other.”
Aglow in love, bonded in an endless future of promises, our relationship swiftly moved from the casual dating stage to the deeper and emotionally-connected courtship stage.
We had the “perfect thing” going on, until that moment – our “first fight.” Not physical but how a mere disagreement could make us feel so distraught was beyond explainable!
Perhaps you can recall your first fight? For us, suddenly everything changed.
A new bell was added to our relationship. Something we knew was here to stay. Suddenly, doubt and uncertainty filled our hearts, “are we meant for each other?” Prevailing thoughts that seem to dim our shining star.
It’s been fifteen years since and we’ve had many more intense fights, but we’ve overcome them all. Here’s the reason why: It’s not IF you fight, but HOW you fight that’s important.
Most couples love each other deeply, but don’t know how to fight well. We have not figured it all out as yet, however, what we are aware of, is the fact that happy or not —all couples fight and sometimes furiously.
Be that as it may, an essential part of the anatomy of a healthy and stable marriage is the knowledge on how to resolve the conflict.
Guidelines On How To Deal With Conflict:
#1. Start Slow and Soft
Begin your discussion with the correct tone. “A gentle answer turns away anger”.
Next state your complaint about a specific action you may have disliked. In doing so, you NEVER condemn your spouse. You are permitted to complain, but DON’T blame.
Describe what is happening to your feelings about what has been said or done, but don’t evaluate and judge.
Talk calmly about what you need to and NEVER bring up past resentments and failures.
Here is an example “… last night at the restaurant before everyone at the dinner table, you said, ‘I’ve picked up a tonne of weight.’ That was unexpected and hurt me. Please don’t speak about my weight again before anyone; I’ve just had our baby.”
#2. Words Break Or Build
It’s easy for emotions to get out of hand, and to become malefic, using our words to hurt and break each other.
However, it’s essential to learn how to find ways to repair the damage with your words and deeds. When emotions go berserk, REMEMBER, the goal in dealing with conflict, the proper way is to de-escalate the emotionalism and get the conversation back on a constructive track.
This requires both emotional and spiritual maturity. It’s important that one of you has both oars in the water when you both feel like flying off the handle.
#3. Empathy Deepens Your Marriage and Friendship
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another can work miracles in your marriage.
Unless you are willing to make TRUE effort to understand your spouse’s way of thinking and feelings; empathy will not work for you.
Empathy deepens your marriage and friendship and can be applied in the following ways:
Awareness — Be aware of what your spouse is feeling and what’s behind that feeling.
Awareness starts with being observant around your spouse.
Agenda — Set aside your own agenda and focus on the needs of your spouse.
Agenda is all about being selfless INSTEAD of selfish. It’s about putting your spouse’s needs before your own.
Action — Take action on meeting the needs of your spouse.
Actions speaks louder than words, but attitudes speak louder than actions. Whatever you do for your spouse, do it with a cheery attitude.
#4. Make Each Other Bigger Than The Problem
Acknowledging the problem is important, but making your marriage bigger than the problem is priority.
Making your marriage bigger than any problem can be achieved as follows:
WORK TOGETHER at getting to the root of the problem.
SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS together.
CONSIDER EACH other’s point of view.
ARRIVE AT A COMPROMISE, find a way to resolve it and arrive at a compromise.
SOLUTIONS, come up with solutions.
SELECT A SOLUTION that you are both happy with and can carry it out.
BE DETERMINED to make amends or to make up for wrong doings.
RESOLVE to prevent a recurrence.
#5. Accept The Things Your Dislike In Each Other
The same personality traits that attracted you to your spouse in the first place, become the things that you may grow to dislike.
It’s great, for example, to have a responsible husband who is punctual, neat and orderly. You never have to wait for him, pick up after him, do his chores or worry whether he’ll pick up the kids on time. If he says he will do it, you know he will. BUT, oftentimes such husbands may be rigid about others following rules and are inflexible.
We can be annoyed by the same traits that initially attracted us to each other. Remember during your dating or courting stage you raved about how ambitious and driven your spouse was. When conflict showed up, you now call him a ‘self-absorbed workaholic’.
The truth is, not all issues can be resolved. This is a time to accept what you can’t change and trust God to change what you can’t.