In his book, Learning to Live with the Love of Your Life… And Loving It!, Dr. Neil Clark Warren provides eight secrets to working through conflict with your spouse.
1. Marriage is a “We” Business
Dr. Warren says, “Any couple who gains a ‘we’ perspective eventually experiences great success in marriage.” Shift the focus of your marriage to a “we” mentality, especially in conflict.
2. Deal with the Issue as Quickly as Possible
Deal with conflict by getting problems out in the open and addressing them head-on. Don’t let issues fester below the surface.
3. Stick to the Subject
If you are in the middle of an argument with your spouse, stay focused on resolving that current conflict. Don’t throw old fights or problems into the discussion.
4. Don’t Intimidate
Some people become more concerned with “winning” a fight than working through the conflict. They may become mean, intimidating or threatening in order to stay in the fight. In Dr. Warren’s words, “Intimidation may result in victory for an individual, but I’ve never seen it produce victory for the marriage.”
5. No Name-Calling
Establish a rule with your spouse that there will be no name-calling during a fight. Name-calling will only lead to more hurt and emotional distance between the two of you.
6. Turn Up Your Listening Sensitivity
While it may be hard to actively listen to your spouse when your emotions are running high from an argument, you must take the time to try and see their point of view. This is key to the road to resolution. When your spouse feels listened to, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say, as well.
7. Practice Give and Take
“What we must understand is that marriage is a partnership and therefore requires both give and take to be successful,” says Dr. Warren. Be willing to compromise on certain issues that are more important to your spouse. Choose your battles wisely.
8. Celebrate Every Victory
Recognize the victories when you and your spouse successfully work through a conflict together. Focus on the progress you have made as a couple and the new strengths that you have together as a result.