Conflict in marriage is normal. There will be times when a husband and wife do not agree.
Disagreements can be healthy. They allow us to see another point of view and consider our own ideas and the impact they may have.
The challenge is learning to fight fair.
In our marriage, we can disagree without being disrespectful. To do this, we must listen to our spouse’s point of view, ideas, and feelings. Name calling, put-downs, and abuse (whether physical or mental) have no place in marriage.
Through the years in counseling couples (as well as my own marriage), I have found we all just want to be loved. This happens when we feel heard and validated.
Even when our ideas are not the best or will not work, we still have a need to be heard. When we are consistently interrupted, validation and the need to be heard cannot happen.
In order for our voice to be heard, we end up getting louder. As many of us know, this ends up in a yelling match with no resolution. We end up saying things we cannot take back. This hurts our marriage because this hurts our spouse.
In marriage, it is no longer about our spouse having a problem. When our spouse has a problem, we, as a couple, have a problem because we are one unit.
In our marriage vows we said “for better or worse”. Sometimes “the worse” is when we choose to place our spouse’s need to be heard and validated above our need to be right.
In some instances, just talking through an idea, thought, or feeling is enough. Sometimes we are able to see the error of our thinking just by hearing ourself talk. When we interrupt our spouse, this short- circuits the process. It is possible that we create a fight through interruptions that never had to manifest.
When your spouse is sharing his or her feelings, remember their feelings are their reality. Whether their feelings are accurate is not for you to judge. To your spouse, they are real. Your job is simply to listen.
When a conversation has derailed and has crossed into an unhealthy fight, stop fighting until you have both calmed down. Agree on a later time with your spouse to continue the discussion.
Be quick to apologize when you are wrong. A sincere apology lets your spouse know you love them and are sensitive to their needs. It also reminds you that you have gotten on a road that you did not want to be on and allows you to get back on track. A loving embrace (such as a hug) can also help bring down walls in a fight.
There is no room for selfishness in a healthy marriage. Marriage should never be about “me” but should always be about “we.”
While marriage can be hard, it can also be the most rewarding relationship on Earth when we choose love.
Just remember to listen to the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. I know it takes practice and discipline, but I believe you can do it!
Until next time, remember to fight fair.