Learn to Control Marital Conflict



We know that every marriage includes some conflict and that an ability to resolve  conflict is necessary if one is to achieve a satisfying and lasting marriage.  Some conflicts are not readily resolved and may go on for some time.  An hour or even a day of negotiation, bargaining, threatening and pleading may not be enough.  The circumstances of the dispute can be complicated and the emotional stakes can be high.  Misunderstandings, strong feelings and avoidance can all contribute to prolonging a conflict.

An unresolved or incompletely resolved conflict can take over your life if you’re not careful.  Periods of hot, stressful interaction and cold, lonely resentment can expand to fill the time you have available to be together.  Together time may already be squeezed by the many demands of living. This situation can quickly grow to be intolerable and lead to feelings of futility, depression and resignation.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  The world probably won’t end if you don’t resolve a conflict right now.  It will help a lot if you can learn to put a fight on the back burner while you get on with the process of living and loving.

Here’s a way to look at it:  Suppose your conflict is right out on the table and you’re in the process of sorting it out.  But the clock is ticking and at six you’re expected for dinner at your boss’s house.  You can’t take your fight over to the boss’s house and you don’t want to sit there in a cold freeze, ignoring each other on a festive occasion.  You’d rather relax and have fun wouldn’t you?  And this aside from the embarrassment of having your boss pick up on your struggle.  Wouldn’t it be preferable to put your argument aside in a conscious way?  Just wrap it up and put it on the shelf for later.  You can always agree to come back to it at a more convenient time.  You could even do this just because it’s time to go to bed and you have a busy day tomorrow.  This will give you a lot of confidence in your relationship if you can gain this sort of control over your conflicts.

Many couples of long-standing say that they have survived together by never going to bed angry.  I don’t know if that’s always possible but it certainly is helpful to know

when to quit fighting and relax.  Knowing that you can and will get back to it when you have the chance allows you to put it aside and enjoy life for a while.  If you can do this

before your feelings get too badly hurt, you can preserve more of the good feelings you hope to enjoy together.

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