Conflict Resolution in Marriage

Conflict Resolution in Marriage

Marital conflicts are an inevitable part of any relationship, ranging from minor annoyances to major disputes. However, these conflicts can be categorized into two types: solvable problems and perpetual problems. Understanding the nature of these conflicts and employing effective conflict resolution strategies is essential for maintaining a healthy and harmonious marriage.

Two types of Conflicts in Marriage:

1) Perpetual conflicts:

It makes up the majority of marital conflicts (69 percent), which are issues that cannot be fully resolved. Couples who have perpetual problems have found a way to cope with them without allowing them to overshadow their overall satisfaction in the marriage. They recognize that problems are a natural part of any relationship, much like chronic physical ailments that come with age. Instead of constantly trying to resolve these issues, they have learned to keep them in perspective and even find humor in them. Similar to managing physical ailments, they develop strategies, and routines, and avoid situations that worsen these problems.

2) Solvable conflicts:

It may seem less complex but can still cause significant distress in a marriage. These problems can be resolved, but couples may struggle to find effective techniques for addressing them.

Conflict Resolution in Marriage: Key Points

To handle solvable problems constructively, emotionally intelligent couples follow certain guidelines. 

  • Couples prioritize gentle and understanding initial discussions, avoiding harsh and accusatory language.
  • They recognize the significance of repair attempts, making efforts to defuse tension and restore emotional connection during conflicts.
  • They monitor their physiological responses during intense discussions to identify signs of flooding, such as increased heart rate or agitation and take proactive steps to manage these reactions.
  • They embrace the art of compromise, seeking mutually beneficial solutions rather than insisting on winning the argument.
  • They practice tolerance towards each other’s imperfections, understanding that nobody is perfect, and accepting their partner as they are.
  • They convey understanding and acceptance before requesting a change from one’s partner. Approaching the issue with criticism and disapproval can lead to defensiveness and hinder any potential for change. For example, There’s a big difference between “You are such a lousy driver. Would you please slow down before you kill us?” and “I know how much you enjoy driving fast. But it makes me really nervous when you go over the speed limit. Could you please slow down?” 
  • They also acknowledge that there is no absolute reality. Each individual’s perspective and experiences shape their subjective reality, and this promotes empathy and understanding between them.

Conclusion: Conflict Resolution in Marriage

Conflict resolution in marriage involves different approaches depending on whether the problems are solvable or perpetual. For perpetual problems, couples learn to cope, maintain perspective, and find humor in their differences. Solvable problems require emotionally intelligent communication, emphasizing understanding, repair attempts, physiological monitoring, compromise, and acceptance of imperfections. By implementing these strategies, couples can navigate conflicts more effectively, leading to greater marital happiness and overall satisfaction.

Source: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, Gottman, J. M. (2015).  


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