Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

4 Steps to Deal With Conflict in Your Marriage

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
iStock/Thinkstock

Conflict is inevitable in marriage and can create damage or discovery — we choose which it will be. Discovery means learning new ideas, approaches and solutions if we fight together for our marriage.

“I don’t understand why you did this!” I shouted at my husband, Ron. “We agreed we’d stick to the budget. Our savings vanished when your car broke down last month, and we need to replenish the account ASAP. It’s a no-brainer. What were you thinking?”

My frustration with Ron was rising. So was the volume of my voice. He’s irresponsible. He knows I’m right, I thought.

Ron shook his head and looked into my eyes: “Deb, you talk faster than I do,” he said calmly. “And you process faster than I do. And if you want to win, you’re on a roll. But if you want the best solution — one we can both support — you need to slow down so we can hear each other out.”

My immediate thought was, Do I want to win or do I want the best solution? My approach is the best solution. Therefore I win!

This was not my finest moment.

In retrospect, I’m grateful I didn’t say it out loud. My husband accurately described my approach to the conflict du jour, and swallowing my pride was not easy.

DEAL with it

Conflict is inevitable in marriage and can create damage or discovery — we choose which it will be. Discovery means learning new ideas, approaches and solutions if we fight together for our marriage.

Conflict is not the problem. How we manage the conflict is the problem. DEAL is a problem-solving tool that stands for:

Don’t take the bait.

Explain the impact of the behavior and express your needs and expectations.

Ask questions to draw your spouse into dialogue to gain understanding.

Let go of the need to manage your spouse’s behavior. Manage your own.

Let’s explore each part of the process in more detail.

Don’t take the bait

Often the motive in conflict is to hook another person into doing what serves one’s own purpose, regardless of the impact on the other. That’s manipulation.

Everyone has hot buttons — things that push him or her over the edge. And when someone’s button is pushed, he or she often reacts instead of responds. The difference is that a response is a purposeful, thoughtful process. A reaction is a retort that the speaker usually regrets the moment it leaves his or her lips.

Communicate purposefully to build dialogue, not to debate. Pause and consider the best reply, because words can create peace or ignite a power play, which pushes two people further into conflict and further from agreement.

Explain the impact of the behavior and express your expectations

This step helps your spouse understand the impact of his or her behavior. It can also help defuse the situation if the conversation has become a shouting match. Describe your spouse’s behavior and how it affects you. Then express your expectations as the conversation continues.

For example, if your spouse yells to make a point, overpowering you and dismissing your concerns, it’s important to respond appropriately. Here’s how that conversation might start: “Making that purchase not only disregards the agreement we made, but I feel disregarded, too. It’s a trust issue. We need to discuss this, and I ask you to speak respectfully, without shouting.”

Once the impact is explained and expectations for continuing the conversation are established, you’re ready to move ahead.

Ask questions to draw your spouse into dialogue

Asking yes-or-no questions of your spouse — “Do you recall our conversation about saving money? Did you commit to doing so?” — isn’t a great opener. It tends to eliminate discussion without inviting conversation.

Instead use open-ended questions starting with “how” or “what”; these questions draw your spouse into discussion. They welcome dialogue, and this is where discovery comes into play. When you invite your husband’s or wife’s ideas and thoughts — and then listen carefully — you may find a successful route to resolution you hadn’t considered.

Let go of the need to control your spouse’s behavior and manage your own

Keep this rule in mind: This conversation is not about me controlling you. I’m here to control myself. Even if you never verbalize this, don’t forget it. Your hands are full managing your own behavior. You can recalibrate the tone and direction of the conversation if you remember this principle.

If your spouse struggles with managing his or her emotions during conflict, you may be tempted to try to do it for him or her. Remember that your first priority is to give your spouse insight into how his or her behavior affects you. It’s best done with an attitude that conveys, I’m here to give you helpful information about me and how this affected me. And I’m certain if you knew how this makes me feel, you’d never want me to experience that. This approach gives your spouse the benefit of the doubt, which limits perceived offenses and moves the relationship forward.

Marriage is a continual work in progress. We can never say, “Well then, we’ve arrived.” Sharpened tools make the work possible. So next time there’s a dustup at your house, DEAL with it!

Deb DeArmond is the co-author of Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight.

If your marriage is in trouble, our Hope Restored marriage intensives can help put you on the path to hope and healing. Call Focus on the Family at 866-875-2915 or visit HopeRestored.com.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!