I read recently that marriage represents similar struggles found in a three legged race. It is entirely normal for a couple to have disagreements. Those who make a success of their marriage are those who tackle their problems together and overcome them.
What causes disagreements in your marriage? A survey in the UK in 1998 revealed that the number one cause of disagreements was money then personal habits, children, housework, sex, parents and friends.
As one marriage counsellor said, the way a couple deals with its arguments is the single most important key indicator of whether their relationship will succeed or not.
So what steps should we take to resolve our conflicts (note I did not say to avoid conflict but to resolve them effectively)? I want to let you know about six steps you can take to resolve conflict in your marriage.
- Recognise your differences
We do not all have the same ideas about everything and this leads to excitement and colour in our marriage. It helps build teamwork. In a good team, people contribute different gifts, temperaments, insights and the whole team benefits. At the beginning of a relationship these differences attract but after the “honeymoon period” these differences can become a source of tension.
So we must recognise our differences. Our differences can arise because we have different personalities, different families of origin, different hopes, different desires and the list could go on.
- Make the most of our differences
Remember the idea mentioned above…work as a team.
- Discuss our differences
I think this is the hard part. Let me very briefly give you a few pointers in discussing your differences. When talking to your spouse about your differences, remember to focus on the issue that needs to be discussed. Remember to negotiate, it is not about railroading your ideas on the other person but it is a discussion that is two sided.
Pick the right time to discuss the issue. Never in public and never when angry or had too much to drink. Talk about things when you are sober and not just before you go to bed. I heard of one couple who has the “10pm rule”. Once it gets to 10pm either one of the couple can call it quits and the discussion must be stopped immediately and picked up when next appropriate.
Remember to express views so the other person can understand where you are coming from and avoid direct accusation and speaking in absolutes. Sentences that begin with “you always…” or “you never…” attack the other person and make it hard to negotiate. It is always better to begin a sentence with “when you did that (or said this) … I felt …” In discussing your differences remember that you need to be prepared to back down, you might need to do some adjustment as much as you think your spouse does. Finally, in discussing your differences remember to focus on the issue together.
- Maintain a sense of humour
Keep laughter and humour alive in your marriage. No doubt as you courted each other there was joy, laughter and humour in building your relationship. Make sure you keep that alive.
- Be prepared to change
Even you in all your perfection and me in all my perfection need to change. Marriage requires us to grow together and this requires us both to change. Marriage requires us to grow together and this requires us both to change. Most of the changes will be minor adjustments but I am sure that there will also need to be some major adjustments, it is worthwhile to look for them in yourself to save your spouse from having to point them out.
- Have a strong foundation
I personally think that marriage works best with the God of the Bible as your foundation.If you want to find out how to make God a stronger part of your relationship, please feel free to contact me.