During conflict, does your marriage feel like its slipping farther and farther away from where you first began or do you and your spouse find ways to draw closer through same? Generally, when we are in the midst of conflict in our marriage, we turn on auto-pilot, we shut down and default to only negative communication. Our marital bonding goes out the window because our bad habits and negative words deliver fatal blows to our relationship. What is surprising about this to me is that couples do not realize that the same bonds we built in the very beginning of our relationship are the same bonds that we need to maintain in order to get through conflict during marriage.
It’s really easy to forget how and what drew us together as a couples in the beginning of our relationship. All too easily, after marriage and during conflict we forget to remind ourselves of those reasons and about why we first fell in love. We allow our relationships to fall victim to the strain and stress. Needless to say, we don’t “intentionally” strategize on how we can make our marriage stronger. We think that because we have a piece of paper signed by a state official that we are safe from the effects that conflict can have on our unions. We believe that having that piece of paper is like having an insurance policy that guarantees its success. Unfortunately, the only insurance policy that couples need to invest in is the bond they create. If that bond is not nurtured over time, conflict will certainly drain that policy of all of it’s investments.
How do you bond through conflict instead of allowing it to tear your marriage apart you might ask? First, facing conflict instead of brushing your issues under the rug is the first and foremost thing you need to do. For the sake of peace, some partners decide “not to sweat the small stuff.” To an extent, that statement is true. On the other hand, over time, if you take issue with a few small things that your spouse is doing or not doing, instead of putting up with something you don’t agree with for the sake of not sweating it, you will be able to open up to your spouse about what is bothering you. Holding in and avoiding the conflict will weaken your bond. People assume that the love they have will always carry them through but ‘love” is never enough. Love will not allow you to overcome the conflict if you are constantly avoiding the issues. The little things that we ignore for the sake of avoiding conflict is what eventually builds resentment and doesn’t prepare you to handle the bigger issues once they occur. Brushing issues under the rug only allows you to pull them back out during the next argument. By being open to positive communication, you build trust, which in turn builds your bond during that conflict. Second, do not assume anything. Assumptions are the termites of marriage. Assumptions will eat away at your bond. Instead of assuming, use positive words to express your insecurities.
A few tips to help you bond through conflict are:
- Adjust your differences. At times, what attracted us to our partners (i.e., your husband is very outgoing – you are a home body) is what causes conflict later in marriage. Accept that you may have to meet your spouse in the middle. Find the agreement within the argument and work your way outward from there instead of shutting down and assuming you have no room for adjustment.
- Be positive about your marriage. Do not speak negatively about your marriage to outsiders. All couples argue, fuss and fight sometimes. Anyone who tells you differently is either telling half-truths or they are living in a fantasy world. There is no perfect marriage, but shaming your marriage or disrespecting it by speaking negatively about it will only make your view of same worse.
- Nurture through the conflict. Always make your marriage your priority and not the conflict at hand. Manage your disagreements and if you are conflicted, always approach the conflict as a team and commit to working together to get through same no matter what.
- Humor each other. Whenever possible, use humor and silliness to lighten your differences. It works wonders. You will find that most little things are not so bad after all and humor allows you to reframe the problem in a different light. You can still get your point across, but you are not hurting your spouse in the process.
- Keep the problem in perspective. Don’t bring other issues into the particular argument at hand. Most issues are not as big of a problem as they initially seem. Leave your pride at the door and come ready to resolve, resolve, resolve.
- Focus on solutions instead of problems. Acknowledge the issues and move to solutions. When we are in conflict, we spend way too much time playing the “blame” game. Do not waste all of your energy on redefining the problems and get to fixing it.
Logically speaking, TMF Readers, successful people don’t focus on their failures. They focus on their goals and how they are going to move forward even if they temporarily fall down. Use each and every conflict as a learning opportunity and find forgiveness. Build positivity, pay attention and nurture your marriage and I promise you that your bonds will be built strong enough to stand up to any conflict that comes your way. Always view your marriage as whole and permanent and not temporary.
Lastly, remember, you and your spouse took the vow “till death do you part” not “until the next argument.”
Peace & Blessings,