“I’m right and you are wrong.“ Sounds familiar? Let’s be honest, we all have heated moments in our marriage or relationship where we end up in an argument. It is not something we are proud of, but it is reality and it happens. Having differences in a relationship is healthy, however, when respect is lost that’s when the line is crossed. It is not about having arguments because we will have them, it is knowing how to handle the argument and not letting it control our emotions.
We got married as young adults 22-24 years of age. Although we were considered adults, we found ourselves with childish ways when it came to listening to each other, which led to us communicating as though we were two teenagers. We became pros at the shouting match, who had the last word and the most painful of them all the SILENT TREATMENT… Just thinking about it is painful. We really let pride get in the way of finding a resolution to our conflict.
An area that has been challenging for us has been understanding each of our family’s culture and dynamic. We were raised differently as we have stated before. Spending quality time with our families was differently defined depending on which house you were in. There’s usually a misunderstanding because we can unintentionally expect for the spouse to adapt quickly to our family’s ways of doing life together. Having to plan out every detail on how to split time between our families was exhausting. We had to figure out the length of time we were gonna be with one family to be able to make it on time to the other family’s event. You can just imagine the back and forth we would have. By the Grace of God, we’ve been able to do better in this area. Our families have gotten to know each other more over the years and we’ve done a better job of being intentional about how we interact with them.
Another area of challenge was finance. Finances in a relationship will always be a sensitive topic because let’s face it, financial management is the key to having stability, which is important and for most people, it can produce security in the relationship. We were young and did not understand how to have a balance with “needs and wants”. Many times we found ourselves purchasing items that were “wants” and were not necessarily something we can afford. Arguments were inevitable at that point because we would have no money in the bank due to a “want” and not a “necessity.” Over the years we learned the significance of communicating with each other before a purchase, big or small. This avoided conflict because there was a mutual understanding of where the money is being spent.
We are not claiming to have all the answers on how to avoid arguing, but here are a few things that we have learned over time and through marriage counseling. We’ve learned to:
- Be honest and use reflective listening
- Focus on the problem, not the person
- Use “I feel” statements
- Know when to take a timeout
- Work toward a resolution
- Put every detail in prayer
Moving forward, before you quickly go on a tantrum and start saying things you will regret later, analyze the problem and sit down with one another to talk about how you as a couple can find a resolution. It’s all about how much work you want to put in. Be encouraged this week.
“Conflict is an opportunity to learn to love our partner better over time." -Dr. Julie Gottman