What to do if fighting freaks you out.
They may have been raised in homes where they never saw any form of discord, so they believe that their parents never had any disagreements.
Because conflict was so hidden from them, they never learned how to manage it.
However, in any relationship — and particularly in our marriages — it is important to recognize that conflict with another person is inevitable.
People will have differing points of view, or may feel hurt or slighted by another person, even if that person never intended for that to happen.
In order to have a healthy, functioning relationship, there must be a recognition that conflict will occur, and there needs to be a plan to manage conflict in a way that is as non-threatening as possible — with minimal to no damage done.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to learn how to manage conflict when it occurs.
Let’s take a look at a few useful tactics that couples use to disagree in ways that help grow their relationship:
1. One way to manage conflict in a positive way is to approach it, rather than avoid it.
Couples must not allow issues or concerns to go un-addressed, causing them to become angry and resentful.
Those who successfully navigate conflict will talk about what the issues are, and do it in such a way as not to blame one another for how they feel or what they think.
They take responsibility for their own feelings and thoughts, and talk about how they feel related to the situation at hand.
Conversation is brought forth as soon as they are able, so as not to allow it to fester and become a bigger issue — or become an issue that is brought up over and over again.
2. Managing conflict means that couples will fight or disagree about things until they are resolved.
This may mean that they “fight” often, in order to reach a resolution.
3. When healthy couples disagree, they do not call each other names or become disrespectful if they want to manage conflict.
They consider the other person’s feelings and thoughts when they speak, so as to not put them down or belittle them.
4. Couples will be open and honest about how they feel, and not dismiss important questions.
They will not resort to dismissing important questions like, "What is wrong?" or "What's going on?"
It is not okay to say things like, “Oh nothing” or “it doesn’t matter!” if there is really something bothering them.
Communication needs to be honest and open if conflict is going to be resolved.
5. Managing conflict means that couples do not assume that the other knows what they are thinking or feeling.
It is unfair to make assumptions, or act as though someone should be able to read your mind and fix the problem the way you want it fixed.
Healthy couples will manage conflict by addressing the issues, and not making assumptions about what the other person should know.
They will not assume that the other will automatically fix the problem without telling him/her what the problem is.
6. Managing conflict means that couples work together as a team to solve a problem.
Couples are not on opposing teams; they are a team!
They express how they feel and what they think, and then work together to bring resolution.
Once they have agreed, the other thoughts and feelings are no longer part of the issue. They agree to the solution, and that if that solution does not work for some reason, they come back to the drawing board and talk about what is not working, to try to resolve and perhaps try something else.
7. Conflict management means couples will not harbor ill feelings toward one another, and will move forward together as a team.
Above all, it is important for couples to resolve issues and not allow anger to take control of the relationship.
Healthy couples will work to resolve conflict before the sun goes down, so that anger does not become an issue for either of them in their relationship.
It is important to let our children know that we will not always agree, but that we will do whatever it takes to come up with a resolution to our conflict and move forward.
This will help them to understand that conflicts will arise, and that we must work hard to overcome them and resolve them to have relationships that are healthy and strong.
If you are struggling in your marriage relationship in the area of conflict management and resolution, it is important to seek help so that it does not become the problem that tears your relationship apart.
Conflict in relationships is inevitable but it does not have to destroy the relationship.
If couples learn to manage conflict in a healthy way, it can actually strengthen the relationship and help them to grow closer.
Dr. Deborah McFadden is a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life Magazine filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself, resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.