Skills for Managing Conflict in Marriage

couples marriageMarriage can be a Wild and Wonderful Adventure - Filled with excitement - Yes -It can

However - being married to another imperfect being means there will be conflict at times. Research shows happily married people and miserably married people have the same amount of conflict. The happily married couples just know how to Manage Conflict. Managing Conflict is a necessary skill to insuring you keep the love alive. If you're finding yourself in gridlock more times than not, you may need a tune up or reminder about how to go about managing conflict. Sometimes it might take more than a little effort. But often times - a little effort will pay off in big ways. Dr. John Gottman gives some simple ways to begin using to manage conflict:

Practice Soft Start Ups - Rather Than Harsh Ones

[caption id="attachment_1314" align="alignright" width="300"]couples marriage Don't Blow Them Away[/caption]

Anger can build and cause the tone of your voice to be harsh when you are expressing a concern. Pick a good time for both of you to have a conversation about a conflict. Start the conflict up with a softer tone. Prepare your partner in advance. Let them know you want to talk about a conflict.

It's sort of like someone jumping out from behind a bush at you when a Harsh Tone is used. Of course the harsh tone will start up a physical response from your partner - raising the heart rate and causing adrenaline to secrete.

When the heart rate and adrenaline are up - the discussion is  sometimes done. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." (NLT) Ancient Wisdom holds true today according to all of the research on communication.

Practice Self-Soothing

nature-sky-sunset-manNotice how your body is feeling during a conflict. Notice your heart rate. Remember when heart rates go higher than 100, the ability to hear each other is damaged.

Hearing each other is vital to resolving conflict. Better than that, understanding each other is vital to resolving conflict. Proverbs 18:13 says, "Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish."

Take the space you need to calm down when your pulse gets too high. Let your spouse know, "I'm taking 10. I love you and I'll be back."

Learn How To Issue A Complaint

Giving a healthy complaint is very easy once you learn how.
  1. I don't like it when ________
  2. I feel _________
  3. I need/want _________
Healthy complaints help to stop anger from building up in your house. Even if your partner has something painful to say, issuing a complaint is a Loving Action for your marriage.

Allow Re-Do's

Allow the mistakes to happen without shaming each other. When there is a conflict blunder, acknowledge it and try a "Re-Do." Think of "Re-Do's" like the miniature golf game stroke where one of you laughed while the other was putting the ball. Of course, the person gets a re-do. It would be just silly to go on with the game without a Re-Do. Start the conversation over. Both of you will be able to acknowledge the effort being made by the other one. Simply ask, "Can I have a Re-Do?" or "Why don't we both have a Re-Do on that one?"

Accept Bids From Your Mate

[caption id="attachment_1320" align="alignright" width="300"]couples marriage Move Towards Each Other[/caption] Don't you love it when someone has thought of you in a special way? I love it when Bob and I have had a stressful discussion where we may have misunderstood each other. He will give me a "wink" or simply call me by a special name. (No. I'm not sharing our special names for each other with you.) What Bob is doing is giving me a "Bid." A Bid says, "I know we disagree, but I love you." A "Bid" can be a soft touch of the hand or an unexpected compliment. When you develop the Bid System that works for you both, the Love and Admiration while managing a conflict is even easier to experience.

Accept Your Partner's Influence

Let's face it, most of us married because we loved and admired the other person. Isn't it funny how when conflicts arise we can all of a sudden forget the reason why we wanted this person in our lives? We wanted their input in our lives. Their opinions mattered more than anyone else. Accepting your partner's influence and allowing their input on issues is vital to keep Love and Admiration in your marriage alive. Learn to negotiate. Like I have said before, most of the decisions won't be brain surgery. Why not paint the walls a light green, rather than that silly taupe you've always painted them?

Dialogue About Problems

Listen to the other person's thoughts, feelings and beliefs on an issue. Ask for the history behind the reason why your partner thinks the way they do. Take turns listening. Set a timer if you want. Just take the time to listen.

These tips aren't all of the tips to managing conflict, but agreeing to use these will get you both on to the same foot - as you stumble through the conflicts. If you thought they were helpful, share with your friends! Try them and come on back and let me know how the skills worked!

The above isn't meant to be professional counseling. If you are wanting find out more about managing conflict in your marriage, call me at 530-268-3558 or email me We'll talk and see if I'm the best fit for both of you. If I'm not - I can refer you to some wonderful colleagues in the Grass Valley or Auburn, California area.