Marital Conflict


Marital Conflict
Here's how I see Marital Conflict, and how to effectively deal with the conflict.

    It is harder, in my opinion, to learn about your problems in relationships, when you are alone than when you have a spouse/mate/partner to assist you. If each partner uses their current relationship, however strained it might be, as a vehicle to pursue an awareness of themselves, then the relationship can change. In that situation, whether they decide to stay together, or separate, the process is less likely to be attributed to the other person. It is more likely to be an individual, or a joint, decision that has less anger, bitterness, and less trauma involved for all concerned. For each spouse/mate/ partner has been cooperating in reducing the conflicts, if only to clarify their own role and take responsibility for it, in helping each other to learn what went astray, and how to prevent it from happening again, whether with each other or someone else.
    This is especially true when there are children involved. Recent trends in custody and visitation issues focus on the children's rights to have contact with both parents, as the children's rights, not the parents'. Therefore, when children are involved, there will be continued contact between former spouses in arranging the visitation and shared physical custody. Once the furniture and financial settlements are made, that's it. With children, however, the parents can anticipate continued contact and interaction, based on the children's ages, from one to seventeen years. The energy expended in marital therapy, in learning to cooperate, should a divorce still occur, can certainly reduce the anger and anguish in continuing to deal with each other during the years that the children are growing up and traveling between the parents' homes. It is much less likely, between parents who have learned to work with each other as they ended their relationship, that the children would be used, consciously or unconsciously, as pawns in an ongoing conflict between their parents.
    The California legislature has attempted to deal with the problems of visitation and custody. Since 1981, it is a requirement that both parents attend Mandatory Mediation, with a mental health professional, to see if the parents can come up with a joint agreement about custody and visitation before the legal confrontation occurs in court.
In the Mandatory Mediation the goal is more focused than in marital therapy, as there is less emphasis on the interpersonal dynamics. The goal of mediation is an agreement about custody and visitation. This goal is rarely reached when the parents are continuing the conflicts from their marriage. The more they try to blame each other, the less cooperative they'll be in the future. If the attempt at a mediated agreement fails, because the parents cannot agree, then it will be up to the court to impose a legal decision that neither parent may prefer. Much of this post-divorce trauma could be alleviated if the couple seek out, and utilize, marital therapy, before divorcing.

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