All marriages go through challenges and tribulations, there is no way to avoid them. However, you have a choice on how you can respond to the conflict. When you look at how happy and successful marriages deal with conflict in their relationship, the key differentiator is in how they respond to the stimulus. To quote Victor E. Frankl “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom“. We have free will in how we choose to respond to the conflict, and how we respond will affect the outcome.
When it comes to applying effective conflict resolution skills in your marriage, there are 3 Key Tips you should keep in mind. The key tips are; Mindset, Humility, and Tone. All three will require that you pause and ask yourself what path will you choose to go on. You will need to be intentional about the chosen path.
Mindset – Choosing the right mindset when faced with a conflict can lead to a win-win outcome. When dealing with conflict in our marriage, we can either choose to enter the discussion with a Judgmental mindset or a Curious mindset. In most cases, we typically start off with a judgmental mindset since we allow the ego to get in the way and go into protective mode. The focus is on; I am right and you are wrong! The judgmental mindset is about blaming and looking for flaws in the other person’s point of view. When you show up with the judgmental mindset you begin to ask yourself; What is wrong with the other person? Why are they blind and don’t see it my way? The judgmental mindset will lead you on the path of disharmony which ultimately ends in frustration.
In contrast, the curious mindset shows up asking; What can I learn from this? How can I better understand the other person’s perspective and feelings? When you choose the curious mindset, you show up with a different attitude and start asking questions that are conducive to discovering possibilities and solutions that will benefit the relationship. Choosing the curious mindset will help you to differentiate between facts and assumptions, identify options, and seek mutual consensus. Next time you are confronted with conflict in your marital relationship, pause and remind yourself that you have a choice on how you can respond. Show up with a curious mindset and you will see the difference it makes in your relationship. Give it a try!
Humility – Pride is a relationship killer and it will create discord in your marriage. It’s amazing how a little “humility” in the midst of a conflict can turn the whole situation around. There is power in humility! If we look at what Holy Scripture says, you will find that God favors the humble. In James 4:6 it says “But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. We have to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we cannot solve our problems in our own strength, and as a sacramental marriage, we have access to supernatural grace to help us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1641 states: “By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God. This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they help one another to attain holiness in their married life…”.
If you want to find a better way to deal with conflict in your marriage that will lead to more peace and understanding, give humility a try. Regardless of how difficult it may be, choose to be the first to approach the situation with a humble heart and open mind. Don’t be so quick in trying to get the upper-hand to show you are right. Rather, listen to your spouse as if you are wrong, and authentically show that you are willing to humble yourself to better understand their perspective. If you do that, the emotions will de-escalate and your spouse will be less guarded and more open to listen to your point of view. Approaching the conflict with the virtue of humility will give your relationship the grace it needs to reach a mutual peaceful solution.
Tone – The third tip to keep in mind when dealing with conflict resolution in your marriage is tone of voice. Most people are not even aware or mindful of their tone when communicating. Do you have a harsh or gentle tone when speaking with your spouse? When discussing a problem do you come across as judgmental and critical? or kind and considerate? It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. The way you deliver the message will definitely have an impact on your relationship. Tone is a critical component of communication so it’s important that you watch your tone. If you want to have a positive impact on your marriage when discussing problems, start being mindful about your tone and take a gentle and empathetic approach, it will serve your relationship well.
Our ability to effectively deal with conflict in our marriage will affect the level of satisfaction we experience in our relationship. We must be willing to explore new ways of working through problems with an open heart and mind. Consider implementing the 3 Key Tips for Conflict Resolution; Mindset, Humility, and Tone to take your marriage to the next level!