Conflict is inevitable in a relationship—healthy conflict resolution seems rare. Too often couples let their anger fester, disagreements build, and resentment settles in. With the divorce rate so high, how do you avoid becoming a statistic? How do you change the conversation? In this episode of Both on Board, we share our framework for healthy conflict resolution to build a marriage that lasts.

Highlights From Our Conversation

  • [0:50] The topic of conflict
  • [4:00] Our framework for conflict resolution
  • [6:15] Learn how to actively listen
  • [9:00] What else could this conflict mean?
  • [13:35] DO NOT bring up the past
  • [15:00] Be aware of your unconscious programming
  • [18:25] What are you committed to?
  • [21:50] Pursue your shared vision
  • [23:50] Your words are powerful
  • [25:00] Practice your daily disciplines
  • [28:30] The importance of a shared vision
  • [31:35] What am I resisting in myself?

Healthy conflict resolution begins with trust

Your relationship needs to be built on mutual trust. Without it, you have a shaky foundation at best. If you don’t trust each other, you allow doubt to creep in. You begin to lose the belief that your spouse has your best interest in mind. This is a breeding ground for marital dysfunction.

Not only do you need to build trust, but you also need to believe in each other. Believe that the other person does have your best interest in mind. Believe that they are coming from a place of love. By doing these things, you are creating an environment for healthy conflict.

There are a few other things that make up our basic framework—make sure to listen to the whole episode to hear more!

Listen to understand—not to respond

Active listening is one of the hardest things to master for anyone (ahem, we women may argue that it’s harder for men to master…). Think about it—you spend the entire time your spouse is talking trying to think of a comeback. Are you listening and comprehending what they’re saying? Or just preparing your rebuttal?

Instead of becoming defensive, respond by repeating what you think your spouse is trying to say.

They’ll see that you’re actively listening, trying to understand your point of view, and making an effort. Try to put yourself in their shoes and be compassionate. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree. But you are allowing each other to feel heard.

What do you do if you feel you’re not being heard? Listen to find out our tips!

How did your family handle conflict resolution?

It is human nature to react to conflict the way you were conditioned to react. Ray and I grew up in completely different households and different environments. My family avoided conflict entirely, so I am programmed to avoid conflict. Ray’s family fought it out—loud and proud—and then subsequently forgot about it.

Two different worlds collide when you get married. 

We are very different people coming together and need to find conflict resolution that works for us. So bring awareness to your style of conflict. I have to make sure I don’t withdraw from conflict and pretend there isn’t an issue. Ray has to learn to take a step back and let things simmer down before we have a conversation.

What type of conflict resolution (or lack thereof) did your family model in your childhood?

Remember you are 100% accountable for yourself

There’s a saying that goes something like this: When you hammer a nail into a piece of wood the nails can be removed. But holes are left behind. So it is in an argument. If you are spewing hurtful words and reacting out of anger and frustration, those are words you can never take back.

You can never undo the damage you’ve caused by not controlling your words.

Your words are powerful.

Use them to build each other up, not tear each other down. 

We believe in forgiveness—but the process of forgetting is far harder. So take responsibility for yourself. Make sure that you are taking care of you and filling your cup first so that you can put your best self forward and argue from a place of compassion and understanding, not anger.

Remember, you are 100% complete. Your spouse is 100% complete. You don’t complete each other. But when you come together you are exponentially better.

Resources & People Mentioned

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