I sincerely love getting to do all aspects of life with Randy – that is what I love most about marriage. Some of my favorite memories we have together are belly laughing in the kitchen while cooking dinner or simply lying in bed together on a Saturday morning. Marriage is sweet, fun, and adventurous. However, it takes a lot of work too. Social media can often paint the picture of marriage being easy and romantic; however, more often than not, it can feel exhausting and tiresome.
Marriage is a covenant between two imperfect people and is bound to have conflict. It is easy for us to allow tension from work, family, or friends to affect how we communicate with our spouse.
Randy and I quickly learned that it is inevitable to avoid conflict in marriage. Instead of trying to sweep things under the rug, we strive to work towards active communication to prevent future issues.
5 TIPS TO HANDLE CONFLICT “WELL” IN MARRIAGE
Here are five things we learned in our first year of marriage on handling conflict well. By no means are Randy and I marriage experts – we’ve only been married for a year. We still have many moments where we let our emotions get the best of us. But we strive to improve our communication to help each other feel heard and respected.
01. BE SLOW TO SPEAK
When we are in a moment of tension, we quickly become defensive and try to justify ourselves for our actions. When we are quick to speak, it creates more stress, and often we say things we wish we could take back. That is why I believe God warned us to be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19) when communicating.
02. LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND
I struggled with active listening early in our marriage. When Randy was discussing specific topics I was not interested in, it was easy for me to tune out the conversation and just let him talk. In my mind, I thought I was doing him a favor by allowing him to vent, so I would distract myself with cleaning or scrolling through my phone and give him the occasional “mmm-hmm” or “that’s hard” to encourage him that I was listening. Still, in reality, I was not paying attention to our conversation at all.
After realizing this weakness, I started listening to Randy to understand his intentions. Doing this allowed me to step into his shoes to look at his perspective on areas of conflict. It helped me empathize with his feelings and work to find areas where I can improve my actions. I started to ask him more questions and give a recap of the conversation to make sure we were on the right page. Asking for clarification allowed him space to speak in any area where I was confused or misinterpreting.
03. ALLOW GOD TO GIVE YOU PEACE
Praying before an argument or asking the Lord to give you peace during a conflict conversation helps keep you focused on what’s important. It’s incredible when you look at your spouse as if having a conversation with the Lord how quickly your attitude changes. You begin using kinder words and looking for ways to listen and understand your spouse better.
04. FOCUS ON FIXING YOURSELF NOT YOUR PARTNER
You will change your mindset if you can walk into a challenging conversation looking for ways to improve yourself versus your spouse. Randy and I were part of a marriage study where they talked about focusing on fixing the person in the circle – which newsflash is you. We can’t control how our partner reacts to certain things, but we can control how we respond. This can be challenging when you feel you are not in the wrong, but the Lord helps us battle against our fleshly desires.
05. DON’T KEEP RECORDS
At a marriage conference Randy and I attended, a couple talked about marriage being like a boat. If there is a hole in the boat, you both will sink no matter who is more “wrong” than the other. When we hold grudges against our spouse, it can feel like putting a hole in the boat. Grudges only make us take on more water instead of patching the hole in the boat. Avoid using words like “you never” or “you always” in conversations. Remember, as Christians, Jesus forgave us freely so that we can forgive others, including our spouses.
Communicating well with your spouse allows you both to handle conflict well. These tips allowed us to hear each other instead of fixing each other. It also allowed us to see each other with respect and allowed us space to improve ourselves. We hope these are beneficial to you and your spouse, as well. We pray that they will bless you and your marriage!
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