Saturday, February 28

Resolving Conflicts - How to Fight Fair

Here's a quote I read in a book once:

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret"

No matter how wonderful a relationship is, and in marriage especially, there will inevitably be conflicts. Arguments, disagreements, miscommunication and unmet expectations are inevitable, because marriage brings two totally different people together. We have different backgrounds, different personalities, desires, views, priorities and different opinions. We do need to keep in mind though, that conflicts are not necessarily destructive, in fact they are potentially beneficial, because understanding and intimacy can grow if we resolve conflicts fairly. Hubby and I rarely have major battles on our hands, but once in a while, minor conflicts arise and I'm learning how to deal with them.

Hubby and I have had situations where a simple case of miscommunication leads to an argument. Then I am upset or angry and I feel I have to confront the issue otherwise there will be tension between us for ages. I've learnt that I can either attack the issue, ignore it and hope it will go away or try to discuss and negotiate. Of course the first two options are not ideal. Attacking the other person usually becomes counter-productive because they become defensive and unwilling to give up their position especially if they feel they are equally right too. On the other hand, if I choose to ignore it, resentment builds up and I'll probably explode at some point over a minor issue totally unrelated to the first one. So the best way to resolve a conflict is to bring it out into the open, be willing to express myself without judging or accusing hubby and making an effort to listen to his point of view. It helps too, if we talk without raising our voices because that helps us to really put thought into the words we speak. I've realised that yelling in anger does nothing except to further inflame an argument.

Then there's the issue of timing. There is no "perfect" time to air a grievance or start a difficult conversation. But if I really need to talk to hubby about something that has upset me, I should think about the ideal time to bring it up. Usually that is when both of us are calm and quite rational, not in a hurry, not too tired to listen or getting ready to go out. Sometimes it's better to let the issue rest for a day or so and talk about it after we've both had time to reflect on what went wrong. That helps us to understand where the other person is coming from.

Here's another quote:

In marriage, there are two phrases you must avoid at all costs: "you always" and "you never"

Why is that? Because once you start a discussion with either of those two phrases, you are automatically accusing the other party of some failure on their part. And it means we have stopped attacking the issue, instead we are now attacking the person. Imagine hearing stuff like this all the time:

"You never help me around the house"
"You are always grumbling about your job"
"You never spend quality time with me"
"You always come home late"

It doesn't mean there is no truth in these statements, but it has been distorted and exaggerated. It's better to express those feelings in a more productive and less accusatory way for example:

"I would really appreciate it if you helped me around the house a bit more"
"It upsets me to know that you are very unhappy about your job"
"I miss spending quality time with you, let's set aside some time to reconnect"
"I feel frustrated when you arrive home late. Would you please call me to let me know if you are going to be held up?"

This way, you are not attacking them, just honestly expressing your feelings about something. Also without the accusatory tone, the second set of statements make it easier for the other person to respond positively and try to find a solution. And ultimately that's what resolving conflicts should be about: working together to find solutions to issues we have to deal with.

That sums up the topic I want to discuss in this post and my next one. I won't claim that I have fully grasped the concept of resolving conflicts amicably all the time. What I will say is that I've noticed that when hubby and I have misunderstandings, I am calmer and more able to resolve things peacefully after I have prayed and asked God for wisdom. Sometimes God makes me realise that I can't hold grudges against hubby indefinitely. Sometimes God helps me to see things from a different perspective, so that I understand that things can't always go my way. And sometimes God gives me the courage to admit that I'm wrong and I need to change a particular flaw in my character. More about this topic in my next post!

As always, stay blessed and favoured.



Beyond said...

hmmn!....glad i read this post.....God must have directed me here cos last saturday while i was talking with "mine", he asked me >>>> "what will happen if we have a misunderstanding and who will help us resolve it".... at that point i didn't know what to say neither did i have the right anwser to give him... so i just told him, "if am wrong, i will apologize n he have to accept my apology but if he is wrong he will have to find a way to resolve things" and we both laughed over it n moved on...

but since then i have been thinking n seeking God's wisdom about it as we both have this unsaid rule about giving a thought to whatever "topic we don't agree on or don't know whats best to do" from our previous conversation. so, i planning to discuss the question with him this weekend when we talk.....

Considering that we are in a long distance relationship, we agreed to keep any form of third party out of our relationship and we haven't had any misunderstanding since we started dating which i think is because we knew quite a lot about each other (we have been friends for two years n bestfriends for four years) before we started dating, I understand why he might ask such a question which some might assume is nothing.

Thanks so much for sharing your opinion on the topic, i feel so relieved ....

Have a wondeful weekend.

DiAmOnD hawk said...

what a great topic with lots of great points.
I am guilty of "you always... you never" line o and I too have been learning when to push... and when to pull back and when to just let things be... it's a balancing act... a very HARD one... God help us all in our conflict resolution journey :-)

Rita said...

Did you say we were in sync? You have even gone one step ahead.

Before I got married I used to say that I will never quarrel with my husband. when we disagree, miscommunication and misunderstanding contributed to it. But I thank God for the books we studied during our marriage counselling. It taught us most of the things you mentioned in this post. It is hard to say "I'm wrong or I'm sorry" but it does help the relationship in ways one cannot imagine.

disgodkidd said...

i think DH and i are in the same shoes. but what about when you want to talk about issues, and the other party deliberately wants to ignore the issue, because they think its inconsequential? that should be a sign that the relationship is unhealthy right? *scratching head and sighing*

aloted said...

thanks for this post...totally makes sense...

Anonymous said...

hey favored gurl...I just responded to ur comment on Rita's blog saying that I also had a related post on the topic of conflict resolution (titled marriage counselling notes)...only to discover I had even refered my single readers to ur blog for 4da

weldone gurl...good work

Globetrottingbride said...

This is great advice!!

jhazmyn said...

Hmmm, we always say we'd do this and that before we say "i do" then we exchange our vows and find ourselves struggling with te things we say we wont do...i guess patience, and the willingness to learn each day is really essential in resolving conflicts, for me, its annoyingly the little things that just get outta hand...tnxs for sharing.

Wedding and Gems said...

I also have a habit of using those fateful word "you always / you never" and until now I never gave it much thought about how negative that phrase is or how it may make my hubby feel. Thanks for a great post, I'm sure my other half would thank you too.

Forgive777 said...

what if you are willing to do this; but the other one says they are, but don't?

Cheap Viagra said...

Yes It's hard because I got married two months ago and that's hard, my couple and I are always into fights because we realize we're totally different.

bd said...

wow,wat will I say,u are really favoured!
If all women have most of all these quality(thru ur experience n God ),we sure wouldnt have probs in our relationships/marriage.
I love u sis n God bless u more and more and on behalf of pple these posts will help to get better in there relationships I say A Big Thank You and we pray You will never regret or Fail in ur marriage,amen!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post. Very difficult to spend your life with someone. I’ve struggled with it for years with my wife. I stumbled upon this blog like I did yours. Thought their insight may be useful:

Thanks for the post! I’d love to see more like it.

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