Marriages are strewn with conflicts. Do you doubt?
Avoiding conflicts in a marriage is a far-fetched goal. To believe that happy marriages operate on an auto-pilot minus any marital conflicts or disagreements is a laughable proposition.
A marriage is not a union where one partner readily clones the set of attributes that the other has. Conflicts in a marriage are rife because it brings together partners with their set of idiosyncrasies, value system, deep-seated habits, diverse background, priorities, and preferences.
But it is imperative that these marital conflicts are resolved at the earliest, as studies suggest that conflicts in marriage have a debilitating effect on health, in general, and even lead to severe cases of depression and eating disorders.
John Mordecai Gottman, the celebrated American psychological researcher and clinician who did extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability suggests that a constructive or a destructive approach to conflict resolution in marriage makes all the difference.
The saving grace is that fighting fair and marriage communication are skills that you can cultivate and problem-solve the marital conflicts for a healthy relationship with your spouse.
Conflict in marriage – Take the bull by its horns
Conflict in marriage is not the culprit.
Consider conflict as an opportunity to bring into isolation the pressing issues that are affecting the harmony of your marriage. Manage these disagreements as a team and work towards evolving as married partners. Do not hope for a marriage conflict resolution to happen on its own. Deal with it. Stalling is not advisable and autocorrect is not an option available.
If you have entered the bond of marriage recently and are yet to discover the post-honeymoon disappointments, you can avert the possible future conflicts and the magnitude of damage.
Or, if you and your partner have been struggling to breathe in some happiness and peace into a marriage full of conflicts, now is the best time to fix the broken marriage and turn a new leaf in your exciting journey of the marital bond.
Causes of conflict in marriage – Don’t miss these red flags, resolve them
1. Unmet expectations – unreasonable expectations
Expectations – both unmet and sometimes unreasonable, often give a rise to major conflicts in a marriage.
One partner assumes the other to be a mind reader and to be sharing same expectations. Frustration creeps in sneakily when things and events don’t go the way we expected them to roll out.
Partners lash out at their spouses over a tussle on lifestyle choices, staycation vs. vacation, budgeting vs. living it up, grousing over lack of appreciation, family expectations, sharing household chores or even about not supporting their career choices in ways imagined by the upset spouse.
- Reaching a middle ground, a common consensus is not something that comes organically to a couple. It takes practice and a conscious effort to ensure that you don’t burn the bridges with your spouse, especially in a marriage. But you would want to do it and save yourself some serious heartburn and a lingering, debilitating bitterness in marriage.
2. Conflicting standpoints on the subject of children
Children are a lovely addition to a family. But the same children, who are looked at as an extension of yourself can be the escalation point for some serious marital conflict. One spouse may experience a strong need to extend the family, while the other spouse may want to stall it for a time when they feel they have a stronger financial stability.
Parenting has its share of challenges, and there could be conflicting views over schooling, saving for the future education, drawing a line between what is a necessary, non-negotiable childbearing expenditure over what’s superfluous.
- While both parents wish the best for the child, there is a need to take a purview of other household liabilities, child’s best interests, contingency funds, a scope for augmentation of family income.
Also, a little kindness with which you look at your spouse’s intentions to provide the best for your child helps. Easier said than done, in the heat of the argument, you say? But definitely worth a shot for marital bliss and a conducive environment for your child.
3. Inability to manage marriage finances
Issues centered around marriage finances, if unresolved can shake the foundation of the most stable marriages.
A marriage can derail because of money issues and lead straight up to a divorce! According to a study, it is corroborated that 22% of the divorces are attributed to marriage finances, close to the heels of reasons like infidelity and incompatibility.
Not making a full disclosure to your partner about your financial situation, going over the top on wedding day celebration, alimony or a child support situation from a previous marriage are major culprits in putting a strain on your marriage.
A difference in temperament with respect to one partner being a frugal or other a big spender, a major shift in financial priorities and preferences, and a seething sense of resentment of a working spouse towards the non-working, non-contributive, financially dependent spouse also leads to conflict in marriage.
- If you sense that you and your partner have a disparate set of financial goals or there are serious discrepancies in your spending habits, then the best way out is to keep a budgeting journal handy. And as a thumb rule, do not keep secrets! Like all good habits that are difficult to cultivate but easy to maintain, these two habits will yield long-term benefits in your marriage and help you resolve conflict in marriage.
4. Allocation of time to marriage and personal pursuits
After the wedding day extravaganza and honeymoon bliss, comes the knocking reality of married life.
You have the same 24 hours as you had when you were unattached or single, but how do you now allocate time to yourself, career, personal hobbies, friends, family and the latest addition to your life – your spouse. And since you have been dispensed with the unsolicited, but useful advice by your friends and family – marriage needs work, you also have the challenging task of nurturing your marriage with your spouse in the best possible way.
Exhausting much, did you say?
- Marriage comes with its KRAs – Key Responsibility Areas. But don’t make it a drudgery in your head.
Take respective ownership for your share of household work, pursue your individual interests and encourage your spouse to do likewise, elaborating on benefits of maintaining constructive hobbies. Build an equation with your spouse in the most devoted manner, by spending exclusive time with your partner, notwithstanding the length.
You don’t need to crane your neck entire day glued to your phone or spend all day gawking at each other like a mushball. Keep the phone and other forms of distractions at bay. Listen to your spouse attentively, share interesting anecdotes, and maintain an intermittent, reasonably timed communication spread over a course of a day.
5. Lack of sexual compatibility
Work stress, household responsibilities, poor body confidence, intimacy inhibitions and lack of honest sexual communication are some serious, pressing issues that lead to conflict in marriage. When you scratch the surface, you see that building an emotional intimacy with your spouse and embracing other forms of intimacy are paramount to enjoying sexual closeness and bonding with your partner.
- The importance of scheduling sex and going for weekly date nights cannot be stressed enough. Sharing an open-ended dialogue with your spouse really helps. Cuddling up with your partner and going over your sexual desires, fantasies and vocalizing your sincere attempts at satiating your partner’s sexual needs builds the right prelude to establishing a sexual compatibility with your spouse.
6. Breakdown in communication
Do you find yourself saying things that you regret later and wish you had best avoided? And if you are not the confrontational type and believe in letting things be, you will find this seething, simmering passive aggression catch up with you like a nemesis. It will explode in your face in form of one ugly showdown with your spouse.
Both ways you set yourself up for a relationship disaster.
Silent treatment, resistance to your spouse’s standpoint and choices, passive-aggressive behaviour, selection of an inappropriate time and place to hold the conversation, and a sense of threat in your voice – all contribute to conflict in marriage.
- How do you resolve a conflict in marriage when there are so many impediments to a free-flowing communication in marriage? Approach communication in marriage with a problem-solving attitude. Do not try to drive home a point, defensively. Recognize and acknowledge your part in the conflict. Seek clarification only after you have listened attentively to your spouse. Expectation settings are a great way to avoid misunderstandings.
Do not resort to stonewalling or shutting down. At most, take a short break to collect and process the series of events and your thoughts. Non-verbal communications cues go a long way in cementing your bond with your spouse. An approving nod and a relaxed body posture demonstrate your willingness for an open-ended, relationship conducive dialogue.
Finally, it is important to bring into discussion the absolute non-negotiables. Determine your deal-breakers that are crucial to marital bliss.
7. Mismatched dynamics and imbalanced powerplay in personalities
In a marriage, both spouses are equal counterparts. But often times, this notion is relegated to being a utopian concept. Couples often have radically mismatched dynamics, where one of the partners could be a domineering spouse and the other submissive partner in such an equation, invariably ends up colluding as a caretaker to their spouse. This subsequently leads to a resentful build up and an unfair, unhealthy powerplay, making a marriage fall apart.
In such a lopsided spousal equation, there is an imperative need for marital counseling. A marriage counselor can help put things into perspective for both the parties involved. A marriage therapist can bring the subservient partner to understand the importance of being assertive and respectful of themselves.
Additionally, they will shed light on the damage, known or otherwise, the manipulative or an abusive partner brings onto their harried partner. On the realization, the counseling can then progress towards the corrective measures to resolve conflict in marriage and resurrect the relationship.
Other types of marital conflict
Problems arising due to ‘living apart but together’ situation in marriage, incompatibility, perceived irreconcilable differences and love lost between the couples who grew apart, over a course of time – account for reasons attributing to the conflict in marriages.
However, if the couple feels a strong sense of willingness and exhibits an equally strong level of effort to be together, then it’s an easier journey to traverse, towards conflict resolution in marriage.
Conflicted marriage doesn’t need to be your reality
One such shining example is that of Prince William and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, who met as undergraduates at Scotland’s St. Andrews University and went public about their relationship in 2004. By March 2007, the couple took a break before their final exams at St.Andrews. Media pressure and the stress to perform well at their academics took a temporary toll on their relationship and they decided to split. They got back together four months later, and by April 2011, the royal couple had exchanged marriage vows. Their relationship is a glorious example to take a leaf from, for couples at the onset of getting married. The conflict in their relationship did not become a prelude to a conflicted marriage.
Continue the pursuit of keeping your marriage happy
Dr. Gottman’s research suggests that 69% of conflicts in a marriage can be managed successfully, even as reaching a 100% conflict resolution sounds like a lofty goal. Treating your partner as an equal goes a long way in acceptance of the mutual differences, de-escalating damage, salvaging the relationship and helping couples wrap their heads around agreeing to disagree.
When chips are down in a marriage, don’t give up, just because it’s too much hard work. You got together in first place to build a happy space for yourself and your spouse. You stumble, but rise together, hand in hand – that’s the quintessence of a happy marriage. And, you don’t enter a happy marriage, you work to make your marriage happy.
Marriage is a beginning, keeping together a progress and continually working together a success!
When things are not a sunny side up in your marriage, and you are looking for an inspiration and an impetus to save your marriage, read on marriage quotes with your spouse alongside, to build a happy marriage together.