resolve conflict in marriage

5 Strategies to Resolve Conflict in Marriage

Skills to resolve conflict in marriage are one of the greatest assets to your married life. Because let’s face it, marital conflict is inevitable.

Choosing a spouse who balances you out and holds a distinct perspective from you is a good thing. Undoubtedly, you each bring something special to the table and help each other grow.

Despite the value of a partner who sees things different from you, you are bound to come into conflict at times. You are different people with different lenses through which you see the world. Further, you have different roles in your marriage and your family that result in seeing things in your own way.

Moreover, if there is never conflict, it’s more likely that someone is just holding it back.

I’m going to share therapist-approved conflict resolution strategies for couples. These skills will teach you how to solve marriage conflicts so that you and your spouse can stay connected, overcome marriage disagreements, and make the best decisions for your life.

Marriage in Conflict

A conflicted marriage is stressful. In addition to all that you have to face in life, conflict presents another huge stressor: being disconnected from your spouse.

All of the sudden, you are not only dealing with the matter at hand, but the inherent stress that comes from being at odds with the person who means the most to you.

The discomfort that comes from marital conflict is normal. Still, there will always be conflict. There will always be matters you see differently or disagree about. Yet, the disconnection from your partner does not need to happen each time conflict arises.

Plus, there is a huge cost to not resolving conflict in marriage. Resentments can build over time, both of your physical and mental health can be impacted, trust can erode, and your family dynamics can be strained.

This is where conflict resolution in marriage skills come into play. Once you learn how to resolve conflict in marriage, the stress of conflict becomes manageable.

resolve conflict in marriage

How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage

1- Self-Regulate

Conflict cannot be resolved between two partners who are both unregulated in their emotional and physiological states. Rather than an overly emotional or overly logically approach, partners should incorporate information from both sources, or their wise mind.

If you notice that the conflict has left you feeling excessively angry or heightened to the point that you can no longer take in new information from your partner, take a break. If you notice this in your partner, offer them a break.

Take thirty minutes to ground yourselves separately. Do what you need to do in those thirty minutes to tame big emotions. Take a walk, listen to music, splash some water on your face- whatever feels natural to you to ground yourself so you can show up calm and regulated.

2- Set Boundaries

Determine when, where, and how the conversation to resolve conflict in marriage will take place. Agree on a time that works for both of you so that both partners can prepare.

As you prepare for this conversation, set ground rules on the ways you will communicate. Avoid the Four Horsemen (e.g. contempt, defensiveness, criticism, and stonewalling), do not name call, and agree to stick to one problem at a time.

If you find that you are too dysregulated to communicate within the established boundaries, go back to step 1 (self regulation) and try again. Approaching the conversation from a regulated mindset in adherence with your own agreed-upon boundaries is crucial for success.

3- Externalize the Problems

Instead of focusing on your partner as the problem, separate the problem from both of you as people.

For instance, if you are having stressful disagreement about how to handle a parenting decision, refrain from accusing your partner. Rather than framing the problem as their opinion, frame the problem as the “parenting decision” or issue.

This reframe removes the need for partners to become defensive and take suggestions personally. From there, you can both think more critically about the best way to solve the issue with all the factors taken into consideration.

4- Determine Your Marriage Conflict Style

Couples tend to fall into certain patterns when they attempt to manage conflict. Most typically, one partner turns toward dealing with the problem intensely, head-on, while the other turns away from the heat of the moment and values taking their time.

When you and your spouse learn your conflict style, you create awareness about your own reactivity. This information empowers you to respond in a way that is more workable for your partner, and for your partner to do the same.

Identifying your conflict style will also teach you how to have a healing conversation with your partner. You can break through “fighting about fighting” and get to the root of conflict and create a better way to handle it.

5- Attend Therapy

Let’s be real: steps 1-4 are much easier said than done. Resolving conflict with a spouse is hard work. Taming intense emotions, creating space for your partner if you feel unheard, and managing a conflict that holds significant importance may not be so simple to apply in real life. Especially if you are dealing with a relationship that holds a history of hurt, betrayal, or broken trust.

Working with a counselor trained in therapy for married couples can be transformative to help you with resolving marriage issues. A trained professional can guide you to learn how to resolve conflict in marriage and practice these skills in real time.

Once you become comfortable with applying these skills, you’ll have them to turn back to for the rest of your marriage so you can resolve couple conflict.

Resolving conflicts strengthens your marriage and your bond. Marriage fills life with meaning. The conflict resolution for married couples process is time and energy consuming in the beginning, but well worth it. Marriage resolution is possible.

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