How to resolve conflict in marriage every single time

By Caroline Bongo | Thursday, Feb 6th 2020 at 11:32
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I must say I am not one to call myself a relationship expert. First of all, because I do not have any accreditation on Marrigeosis, and I have made my own few mistakes in relationships.

When I say a few, I mean a lot!!!

I believe though that bad experiences don’t have to remain edged as bad memories, for during this special school of life, we get to gather truths that can help the next generation.

George and I have been married for just over 12 years, and today thankfully, I can confidently say we have achieved happiness milestones that we never thought possible.

To be honest, at some point we had completely given up. Let me say it correctly, I had completely given up.

Our relationship is quite unique and unlike most couples. We happen to do everything together.

Did I hear someone say “awww”?

No!!!

Working together simply means we are on each other’s nerves all the time. This is because we are both very strong-willed, and we regularly tend to imagine we are the SI unit of ideas!

Trying to win will always create a problem. Let me tell you, once we argued a whole night without either of us giving up! When we start arguing, we are like wild cats.

What’s ridiculous is that we could probably be having a silly argument about who sent that text first! 

To think we have the evidence saved on the phone that should end that dilemma in 2 seconds. BUT No! We will go back and forth like three-year-olds.

“It was me that wrote it first.”

“No, it wasn’t you, I did it”

“Why would you have written the text first? I am the one that was in need.”

“No, remember that you were the one responding to my original text.”

In such cases, a man can’t win an argument because women tend to suddenly gain a speed of speech faster than the speed of light. At such times I find my mouth speaking faster than my mind can process his words or even mine.

On the other side, him being a man, he will be extremely frustrated because he wasn’t created to speak with a parrot.

Whatever he says, I have an answer for it, especially a counter-argument.

“Do you think I hate your mother?” will quickly get “Do you think I also hate your mother?” that confuses poor dude terribly!

We were not talking about my mother!

An argument can trip in any direction from anywhere to everywhere

Say, for example, our cited text argument. It can shift to the make of the phone that wrote the SMS, to the poor grammar of the writer of the text, to the high school the texter went, to the intelligence of the texter, to the wisdom of the textee… I kid you not, 2 hours later, the argument could have shifted to the weather in Cincinnati, and none of us have any idea if Cincinnati is a place, a person, or an animal!

To say the least, after an hour we both can’t tell why we started arguing in the first place.

We’ve argued about flushing toilets, kids discipline, why the dog pooped, who should give up first, who should have initiated first, who should have thought, which house we should have moved to, why we can’t move to SA, why he forgot to charge my phone last night, who should kill the spider, why we should kill a spider, why there were spiders in the house in the first place, why a loving God would create spiders, why I had a dream, why he didn’t dream, which direction to take: of which I am wrong 95% of the time….

It doesn’t matter if the subject was critical or not…. It could end either way

But of all the arguments we have had, nothing is a communication spoiler than the definition of things. That’s a major one. According to my husband, clever can have 20 different meanings. So which clever are we talking about? And is water even wet??

I have zero doubt that I love my husband, and he loves me; we are not confused if we want to do life together and raise little heroes that will be fierce influencers of their generation.

But there are days we won’t see eye to eye.

I don’t know if it’s just us, but we both seem to notice within an argument everyone talks, and no one listens

“You are not even listening to me.”

“No you are the one that’s not listening to me.”

At the heat of the moment we also become expert mind readers

“What you are thinking about what I am thinking is wrong.”

“How do you know what I am thinking about.”

“I have lived with you for this long; I know when you are about to think wrong!”

And then comes blame games

“Why are you arguing?”

“I am not arguing; you are the one that’s arguing”

All families experience conflict; that’s a universal fact. Knowing that you will argue as a couple brings to a resolve that its critical to learn how to resolve these fights without permanently hurting each other. Because it’s possible to forever hurt each other in marital arguments to the level of separation and divorce.

Philippians 2:3-4 says

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

One of the things I have realized with arguments is that they happen because both people are being selfish.

#Why did she make me feel like that?

#How can he not see things from my perspective?

#Who does she think he/she is?

According to Dr. Greg Smalle, it’s possible to resolve every conflict without causing emotional injury by doing four essential things. 

1. Take a time-out!

For many couples, an argument is a time of heightened emotions. Because it can be difficult to think clearly in conflict, physically distancing yourself can help your emotions to settle.

However, tell your partner why you are leaving. I have done the mistake of walking out of my husband in anger, and that hurt him worse than if I had stayed on with the argument. Also, put a time to discuss this later. Say 3 hours, three days later, etc.,

2. Communicate to uncover hidden needs.

In intense conflict, there is no communication. You are both speaking, and no one is listening. I find that even when we argue over texts, I tend to skip what he said in a hurry to respond to what I think he is saying. 

Productive dialogue comes from James 1:19. “…But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”

Conflict resolution has to start with a mindset of listening and understanding each other. This cannot happen in the emotional roller coaster of heated arguments. 

Try to ask your partner to repeat what you have said in his own words. Does that clarify what he/she has understood? Do the same on what his point is in your words.

Actively listen and understand what your mate is saying. Its critical in a conversation that each person feels heard and understood.

At this point, you will need to uncover hidden needs. The argument over the text could be covered by a need for care; the complaint about mother-in-law could be a personal attention issue.

Some hidden needs could be insecurity, sexual issues, complaints on lack of responsibility, fear of job loss, etc. Ask your partner, “What is really going on?” or “What can I change or do to meet your needs?”

3. Create a “win-win” solution.

Once your emotions are cooled down, it’s possible to create a win-win without compromising anything or anyone. It’s the question of “How can we meet in the middle.”

You might find there may not be an instant solution and it’s something that may have to be worked overtime.

One of the biggest challenges in my life is “fear to confront” I love peace, and if I think facing my husband with an opposing idea will bring conflict, I would rather keep it to myself.

An example is when our daughters turned into teenage; the time came that I felt they were responsible to handle a phone. He didn’t.

Like any other teenager, there is nothing they wanted more than that phone.

I felt he was unfair; he felt I was not as serious as a mother to a teenager. He imagined giving a phone to a 15-year-old was like giving them a gun to walk around with.

Whenever I raised the issue, it brought such an argument I just left it. But bitterness built inside me.

I was conflicted inside; it brought so much resentment, mainly because I couldn’t bring enough argument to convince him. At times I felt he was just refusing because he didn’t have enough love for them since he wasn’t their blood father. And in arguments, I brought that out. This sadly hurt him in ways that completely messed up our relationship that season, as well as with the kids. For he has loved these two like his own.

After lots of the “back and forth” that made our relationship too tense, He came up with a win-win.

On their birthdays (they are three weeks apart) He told me to get into the car. He had just received some surprise payment, and he wanted to surprise them for their birthday.

But before he did buy the phones, we would have to agree on several ground rules. A number to my husband equals 100. One of the rules would be the phones would have to be installed a nanny app. And we would have the right to access the phones anytime.

I do not like interfering with anyone’s privacy, including my kids. But I was willing to give up “rights of invasion” to have them get their phones

Each of us lost something but gained even more.

4. Resolution

Ephesians. 4:26. Do not let the sun go down….

The final step in resolving arguments is forgiveness. Even after getting a solution, an emotional injury could already have happened. And mostly for conflicts that have an underlying permanent impact. E.g. when a child has been born out of wedlock, when money has been lost in gambling or when a business has closed due to drunkenness.

Try to identify your contribution to the problem and seek forgiveness

Above all, in my own experience I have been able to resolve conflicts in my relationships on my knees more than I have been able with my words.

God is able to give you the right perspective if you can both get on your knees and talk to him about the issue at hand. He sees what we are not able to see. He has the ‘birds eye view’ over our situations.

 

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