Conflict is an inevitable part of marriage. Bringing two people together, at some point, there is bound to be conflict. Everyone forms their own ideas and opinions based on a host of things such as their family backgrounds, life experiences and personalities.
It doesn’t mean it has to destroy your marriage, though. In a marriage, conflicts that are mishandled can shred your connection with your spouse. If an affair is added to the mix, you’re strained to the breaking point.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can resolve conflict with your husband or wife in a way that doesn’t damage your relationship—especially if you’re working to save your marriage after an affair. Please keep reading…
When Conflict Gets Out of Control
Do you and your spouse control your conflicts—or does conflict set the tone for your relationship by controlling you?
Thinking back over arguments with your spouse, you can probably recall those that particularly got out of control. One or both of you went a little too far, saying or doing something before thinking it through, and then you had regrets. It may have even driven a wedge between you and your spouse, at least temporarily, with hurt feelings and disappointment.
Some tug-and-pull in a relationship is actually a good sign: it shows you care about the relationship. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t bother to argue, because you simply wouldn’t care one way or the other—just keep the peace. Conflict is a sign of passion between you and your spouse.
But when conflict crosses the line—leaving you both exhausted and drained and still dealing with unresolved issues—is when you and your spouse will need to take a look at how you’re managing conflict. If your arguing has devolved to the point of name-calling, disrespect and unsavory language, it’s time to call a halt.
Resolving conflicts after an affair can be an exceptional challenge. Conflicts that may have been mildly heated before now take on a great deal of weight, in the form of negative thoughts, emotions and images that the victim of the affair must work through.
The cheater also has emotions to work through, and may be defensive whenever the conversation turns into a disagreement, because he or she is still trying to come to grips with the guilt they may feel for causing such damage to the relationship.
Conflict Resolution Skill Set
You can’t help how you feel, but you can help how you express your feelings.
Feelings involve issues and beliefs that have a strong effect on you. Your expression of those feelings requires skills that will help you and your spouse manage your conflicts in a way that doesn’t damage the relationship.
Step 1: Accept that Couples Disagree
If you feel strongly about an issue, it would be unreasonable to expect you or your spouse to tamp it down or ignore those feelings and hope they go away. That can cause more harm than good. It’s best to express those feelings.
When you and your spouse aren’t in perfect alignment on an issue, it does not mean the relationship is unsalvageable. Neither of you married your clone, so accept that you are two different individuals, possessing your own unique 3 pounds of brain matter, and that you are going to use that brain matter in ways that are different.
Step 2: “Pause” before a Heated Discussion Gets Overheated
When a conversation veers toward conflict, both you and your spouse need to take a breath and step back. Acknowledge—verbally—that this is a topic that requires deeper discussion because you aren’t in agreement.
By simply verbalizing aloud that there is a conflict of feelings, you are managing the tone from the outset. This allows you to pause, gather your thoughts, and understand exactly what your feelings on the subject.
Without this pause, a heated discussion can quickly slide down the slippery slope into an exchange that does nothing to express true feelings, and can leave both spouses angry and discouraged.
Step 3: Agree to Focus on the Specific Conflict
How many times have you been caught up in an argument with your spouse, and the next thing you know, one of you says something like:
“Like that time you started yelling at me for no reason because you thought I’d done something wrong…”
“But, that was when we first got married…”
Funny how today’s conflict over one thing seems to be dragging a whole trainload of ancient issues along with it. If this has been a pattern in your disagreements, it may help to once again verbalize: “This is what we are going to discuss, and we will stick with what is relevant to this specific topic.” Again, it’s a way to manage the direction and tone of the discussion.
My best to you as you manage conflict and nurture your relationship.
How are you and your spouse currently managing conflict?
Would you say that you manage conflict, or is it managing you?
If you are working to save your marriage, has there been a change in how you both manage conflict?
Is your spouse receptive to putting in the effort to strengthen your marriage?
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,