You are not going to want to hear this. As a married couple, you and your partner are going to disagree. I said it. You may argue. You may fight.
Marriage conflict is the reality of marriage. It is beautiful and it is hard.
A common phrase I hear in my practice is “I don’t like marriage conflict.” That is good to know and you still need to learn how to navigate it. The article delves into the question, “are conflicts necessary for healthy relationships?”, and it also offers insights on fighting healthy in a relationship.
Do arguments strengthen relationships?
Conflict will be there whether you decide to notice it or not. You are married. What you do not realize is that marriage conflict can strengthen your relationship.
It is an opportunity for connection and for understanding – If you muster the courage to circle back when the heat has lessened, and return to the difficult topic later.
Here is how to prepare for a difficult conversation
Write your ideas down on a piece of paper and set them aside
You have so much to say and want to share. Your thoughts are important and are not going anywhere. The prime difference is that you are holding them in your hand, rather than in your head.
This practice allows you to clear your mind so that you can absorb what is on your partner’s mind. Having prepared yourself, muster all your energy and self-control – invite your partner to speak first.
From there,take turns talking.
Listening is the most challenging part of navigating conflict
You win when each of you feels listened to and understood
Once you both feel understood, it may not be a bad idea to come up with rules or guidelines together about how to approach conflict or how to fight fairly. If you have rules agreed to ahead of time, then your marriage conflict will not go down that ugly, familiar road.
Remember: what you have to say and what your partner has to say matters. You matter. They matter. You both matter.
Listening and validating one another communicates this. We all ultimately want to be loved and accepted. We all want to hear: “I love you and I care what you have to say because you matter to me.”
It is important to note the difference between averbal disagreementanddomestic violence(DV). If your partner puts their hands on you, do not hesitate to reach out to a DV hotline.
The hotline is anonymous – no one will know who you are unless you disclose. You may also want to reach out and get your own personal therapist to support you. Marriage.com has many clinicians that could be helpful.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
It sometimes feels strange or uncomfortable to open up and trust a stranger. Thus, let me tell you about myself, so I am a little less of a stranger. I am a licensed mental health clinician (LMHC), who received my Master of Arts (MA) from Lesley Universitys Counseling Psychology Program. Before entering private practice, I worked as a clinician in agencies serving individuals and families. Ive been blessed to watch, participate, and guide the growth process of the people I worked with. Every day, I am amazed at the human resilience. Through my professional experiences, I have learned that therapy is a rewarding, nonlinear process.
(Katie Lobel is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Somerville)