Conflict is no stranger to marriage! 

The mere fact that opposites attract means your partner may have several qualities that initially excited you, but now cause tension or frustration between you. In addition, we are all innately selfish! We naturally perceive things through our own lens of expectations and offenses, which makes it harder to see our spouse’s point of view.

For good reason, conflict is difficult to deal with. It can foster feelings of anxiety, anger, irritation and even fear. These emotions can cause people to avoid conflict instead of resolving it, which often creates further anxiety, fear and resentment. 

Learning these conflict resolution strategies can help lower your anxiety and bring more peace into your relationship.

1. Get clear about the problem. Clarify your thoughts and position about the conflicting topic. Write down the points you want to discuss as reminders and to keep you focused. 

2. Practice talking with a friend or in the mirror. This can help calm your anxiety and fear by helping you feel prepared and organized. Practicing can also give you a chance to work through any emotions that might be interfering with positive communication.

3. Use deep breathing to stay calm. Take long deep breaths prior to your discussion to slow your heart rate and clear your mind. Pause and deep breathe often during your interaction to invite calmness into your conversation and help prevent escalating behavior.

4. Be clear about your boundaries. Compromise is part of an effective conflict resolution process so plan for ways you can meet in the middle without forfeiting your boundaries. Without compromise you will have harbored resentment but surrendering your boundaries sets the stage for future conflict as well. Finding balance between the two is key to successful communication.

5. Look for points of agreement. Find things that you both agree on and capitalize on them. Talk about how to find a win-win solution that benefits everyone. Spend more time trying to agree rather than disagree.

6. Do your homework. Work hard at understanding what your partner feels and wants. This can strengthen the ability for you and your spouse to reach a resolution because you both will feel respected and listened to. 

7. Communicate assertively. Using phrases such as, “I want. . .” Or “I would like. . .” keeps the message clear and focused. Ask what your partner wants and work toward a solution that is agreeable for both of you.

8. Avoid making assumptions. Ask for clarification or details about anything you are unclear about. Resist the temptation to jump to conclusions or predict your spouse’s reaction. Seek to sincerely hear what your partner has to say without interrupting.

9. Take breaks. Take regular breaks from the conversation. If you start getting heated or feel your heart rate rising, go to the restroom or get a drink. Tell your spouse when you are feeling overwhelmed and ask to resume the conversation at a later time if necessary.

10. Give positive feedback. Let your partner know that you see their point of view. Be encouraging and compassionate towards one another. Give affirmations when you agree on certain key issues. Focus on the positives in your relationship and remind each other of the things you love about each other.

Resolving conflict in your relationship does not have to be anxiety producing or a negative experience.  In fact, working through conflict gives you and your spouse the opportunity to improve your communication, understand one another more clearly and experience a deeper intimate connection. Make a concerted effort to follow these skills to successfully resolve conflict in your marriage! 

Have you used other strategies to successfully resolve conflict in your marriage? Tell me about them in the comments!

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