10 Quick, Proven Ways to Reduce Marital Stress and Conflict

Conflict is Inevitable But Combat is Optional!

Max Lucado

Have you ever been at a party and overheard a couple say, “Oh, we never fight!”

Don’t. Believe. Them.    

Couples fight! How do I know this? My wife and I still have our fair share of fights. As a matter of fact, we had a pretty good one recently. As I recall, it had to do with my being distracted by my new iPhone. The good news is, over the years, we have learned to fight fair. You see, part of being a resilient couple is that we fight, but we do it fairly.

The key to any fight is to maintain control. No, not of the other person. Control of yourself. You do not have the right to be immature, childish, or abusive. On the other hand, if you have legitimate feelings and issues, you are absolutely entitled to give a reasonable voice to those feelings in a constructive way. (That includes not being self-righteous or taking yourself too seriously.)

10 Quick and Proven Ways to Resolve Martial Stress and Conflict

1. Make it private and keep it private.

Fighting in front of your kids is nothing short of child abuse. That’s not an overstatement. It can and will scar them emotionally and spiritually if you don’t have the self-control to keep it together until you and your partner can talk privately. It is also not advisable to share information about your fights with family and friends — the information always gets twisted and enhanced.

2. Deal with the issue at hand.

Keep it relevant! Stay on task! Don’t chase rabbits. Focus on the problems rather than attacking each other. Don’t bring up old issues or grudges that are not a part of the solution. Put boundaries around the subject so it won’t turn into a free-for-all, and limit the discussion to the one issue at the center of the conflict.

3. Stay in the room emotionally.      Never allow it to get physical!

Deal with them, not with symptoms. Tell your spouse what is bothering you. Focus on the issue rather than the attack. When people are involved in a conflict, it is easy to feel flooded and overwhelmed. Here is one quick, free way to make sure you are staying in the room. First, check your pulse. If it is around one hundred (80 if you’re athletic), then step back, take a few moments, and attempt to re-engage.

4. Eliminate “You never” and “You always.”

These phrases will usually lead someplace you really don’t want to go.

5. Avoid character assassination like the plague.

Stay focused on the issue rather than ripping into your spouse’s personality, family, or past.

A strong word of warning—when you begin to verbally dehumanize your partner, you’re headed towards dangerous escalation. So watch your mouth!

6. Avoid “mind reading.

Have you ever said, “I know what you’re thinking?” If you have, consider yourself duly busted. If you are not sure what your partner meant by something they said, ask for clarification. Asking for clarification slows the conversation down. Bonus points, it lets your partner know you are really trying to connect and understand.

7. Stay on task.    

The mission is to resolve conflict and achieve a “win-win,” not an “I win-you lose” outcome.

8. Be proportional in your intensity.

You don’t kill a fly with a cannon. There are basically only two types of problems people have — solvable and unsolvable (or not solvable right now). So everything that you disagree on is not an earth-shattering issue. Remember, you don’t have to get mad and upset every time you two don’t have everything in common     .

9. Commit yourself to openness, honesty, and acceptance.

This will help you relax, listen, and give feedback.

10. Allow yourself and your partner to retreat and/or regroup with dignity.

How a fight ends is crucial. Recognize when an olive branch is being offered to you (it might be disguised as an apology or a joke) and give each other a face-saving way out of the disagreement.

Regardless of your relationship history, you can learn how to fight fair and have a more enduring, loving, and growing relationship.

Ancient Tidbit

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…. St. Paul, Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

Action Plan

     So yes, we know all couples fight. But did you know that most of what we fight about really doesn’t matter? I believe that you can begin making a choice to. By the way here is a link to 12 Ways to Invest in Your Marriage.

As a matter of fact, Dr. John Gottman, the leading authority on relationships, says,

“Our research has shown that 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them these problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face. They are either fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs.”

Are you serious about improving your relationship? If you are, I want to challenge you to review this article and pick two or three specific things you can do to make your next fight more productive.

Be sure to let me know what you are going to do in the comments. 

Need help? Email me john@johnthurman.info Or call and leave a message on my private office line 505-343-2011

Be sure to down load my free ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage by texting 21ways to 33777



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