It seems like the best marriages are the ones where they say, “We never fight” or “We always get along and always agree.”
But the truth is, that can be unhealthy and unrealistic. You need to have conflict with your spouse. In this post, we are going to share with you three tips about how to enter into healthy conflict with your partner. Don't worry, it will be type of conflict that DOESN’T destroy your relationship!
This is important because if we have an inner desire or opinion, and don’t feel safe enough in our relationship to voice that, then that can be a sign of a bigger problem.
Why Conflict Is Important
A lot of the time, we don’t want to fight because we have a negative connotation of fighting. Instead of saying our opinion or saying what we wish would happen, we stuff it down. But over time, maybe weeks, months, years, or decades later, those things we have been stuffing down are going to come back up! It might come up as anger, resentment, or strong feelings and actions against your spouse. You may feel like you have been kept silent, and your spouse doesn’t agree with you. But in actuality, you never voiced what you were feeling inside! And this is why conversation and conflict are essential in relationships.
Now, we are NOT saying that you need to have terrible fights with your spouse where there is screaming and yelling. That is not going to help your relationship. However, having conflict, being able to speak your mind, and even disagreeing about things is healthy in a relationship. It is not healthy to always agree about everything all of the time!
Having someone you can disagree with and still have a positive, successful, and satisfying relationship is the key to making your relationship that much stronger!
3 Tips For How To Fight With Your Spouse Without Hurting Your Relationship
Most of the time, the goal when approaching your spouse about something is to get them to agree with you, to do things your way, or to get them to stop doing something they are doing. Right?
But the truth is, most of the time when there is conflict in our relationships, it may not ever actually get solved. Relationship research by Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington says that the difference between great marriages and marriages that end in divorce is not how often the couple fights, how many times they have the same fight, or even if the fight ever gets resolved. The difference between what makes great marriages great, and marriages that end in divorce, is the ability to reconnect with their spouse positively after the fight, even if you still disagree!
Fighting is not only normal, but it is healthy for couples for that reason. It is healthy to know you can disagree with your partner and that it is not going to be the end of your relationship.
Other Underlying Issues
One critical thing to realize is that what you are fighting about is typically not the real issue you think. In fact, there is typically a deeper issue leading to certain fights. The deeper issue that most are really fighting about with their spouse is likely when one (or both) partners feel like they are not loved, liked, or respected.
Instead of focusing on the issue (whatever it may be), think: “Is something deeper going on here?”
“Is there a deeper, core issue you are not talking about but you are actually fighting about?” Need a little extra help with working out your marriage issues? Click HERE to download our partner, Marriage Helper's, free eBook: 7 Keys to Fix your Marriage.
You Are On The Same Team
Remember that you are on your spouse’s team! Years of fighting and bad rules of engagement when it comes to having conflict in our marriage leads some to forget that they are actually on the same team!
This can lead some to be scared to approach their spouse at all, have disagreements, or have conflict because they are scared of how the conversation might end.
The goal of having conflict is to be able to state your thoughts, feelings, or opinions, AND feel heard and respected even if an agreement does not happen.
Please note, you do not always have to agree with your spouse. You can respectfully disagree about something and figure out how to compromise to where you are both able to get what you want and move forward-- even if you never agree on that subject.
If you try to get your spouse to always agree with you, they are eventually going to feel controlled. And maybe that’s even how you feel. If you feel that your spouse has always tried to get you to see things their way, leaving no room for conversation, or you feel that they always need you to do what they want you to do. Over time, you will likely resent your partner for making you feel controlled.
Let's take a step back and recount. If you can get to a point during a disagreement where you can realize and remember, “I am on my spouse’s team. They’re on my team!” You can keep a level mindset during a disagreement! If you are able to keep that in mind during a fight, you will always have on your mind, “How can we get to a point where both of us are working together to get what each of us needs even if we don’t agree with each other?”
It is so important for your relationship to be able to get to push through the emotion to find your levelheaded thought processing. Once you do, you won’t be scared of conflict anymore. You may still have fights and disagree, but you will at least be able to move forward in your relationship and feel like you’re heard, loved, liked, and respected without it harming your relationship.
Your goal needs to shift from trying to get your spouse to change their mind. Make those times of openness moments where you’re simply sharing your thoughts.
At the end of the day, you and your spouse are a team, and you should root for each other.
This can be hard for couples that have had years of really bad fights with yelling and blaming. Our Friends over at Marriage Helper love to help couples move past their hurt and learn how to fight better and have conflict the right way in their marriages. Click on over to check them out! It is possible to overcome hurts in your marriage and still have a great marriage OR have a great marriage again!