Let’s see a show of hands. Who enjoys conflict? I realize some of you may have your hand up (and you’ve probably noticed your lunch invites decreasing), but most people do not enjoy conflict simply because they are not skilled in resolving conflict in a healthy manner. When it comes to marriage, many couples tend to equate low levels of conflict with happiness, believing that the absence of fighting indicates marital health. This perspective may give the appearance of marital success, but when considering successful, long-term marriages, this mindset is quite deceiving.
Disagreements are a normal part of marriage. In fact, each conflict that spouses experience actually presents a great opportunity to grow closer in their relationship through the reconciliation process. Therefore, the avoidance of conflict can actually hurt the marriage, not help it. Think of it this way. Webster defines conflict as a “competitive or opposing action of incompatibles. Mental struggling resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.”* Simply put, conflict results from a conflict of interests between people. Since no two individuals are exactly the same, there will be differences in interests from time to time. When there is no avenue to resolve the conflicting interests, individuals get frustrated which leads to hostility. So then, one key to marital harmony is not the avoidance of conflict but how conflict is handled. Couples that seem to enjoy marriage the most are those who have learned to resolve their differences using a process characterized by acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness.
Over the next few weeks we will look at various causes of conflict, along with some tools and techniques that will be useful as you assist your mentee couple in resolving chronic conflicts in their marriage. With any technique or tool, remember that changing conflict patterns will always first involve recognizing current barriers to resolving conflict, then being willing to break old, unhealthy patterns before implementing new behavior patterns.
Thu, March 8, 2012
by Eric Wooten filed under