Creative Conflict Resolution
It’s understandable that husbands and wives will have differences of opinion and varying needs. The key is figuring out how to blend them together in a healthy way that resolves conflicts.
It might sound simple, but one way to deal with conflict is to compromise. Each person gives up something to find a resolution. This can get more difficult the longer you’re married, because if one spouse usually refuses to compromise, the other will grow to also not want to compromise–leaving both husband and wife frustrated.
Take heart, wives. The more you model and practice compromising, the more your husband will notice your desire to move toward him. And we pray he will want to do the same.
I will use an example from my life. My husband reads his Bible and study guides on the dining room table in the morning before he goes to work, and he leaves them there until the next day with his notepad, markers, and pen. I like things put away. With compromise, he would put some away and leave some out or he would put everything away three days out of seven. That isn’t really what either of us wants.
The worst thing we can do is to look at conflict as a competition where one person wins, and the other loses. This is the typical “I am right; you are wrong” posture so many couples experience. With this tone, either my husband keeps his books on the table (he wins) or I win, and he puts everything away wherever I say.
Another way to improve conflict is by determining if it’s necessary to bring it up in the first place. I could live with the books on the table and stuff my irritation. The problem with this is that irritation builds and we all eventually blow up and the eruption is often bigger by the time it finds a way out.
Accommodation is another way to experience less conflict in marraige. In this case, either he or I would voluntarily give in and decide to let it go. This can be a good resolution, as long as it isn’t one person who always gives in and as long as the person is truly okay with it. If one person accommodates but isn’t okay with it, resentment will build.
The last and best way to resolve conflict is creative collaboration. We brainstorm together to come up with a novel way to solve the problem that we both feel good about–neither of us giving up what is important. In the situation with my husband, we were able to do this. I offered to give him a drawer in the china cabinet to keep all his stuff in right by the table. He agreed. He got what he wanted which was a convenient place to keep his reading material, and I got a cleared table.
Conflict doesn’t have to be a force for bad. Introduce creative collaboration into your marriage today and enjoy more resolution in your marriage.
Wife Step: Which type of conflict resolution do you and your husband use most often? Competition, compromise, avoidance, accommodation, or collaborating?
What can you do to introduce creative collaboration into your marriage as a way to resolve conflict?
Karla Downing, the founder of ChangeMyRelationship.com, offers Christian marriage help and Christian relationship help as a speaker, author, counselor, and Bible study teacher. Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and then found herself struggling with Christian codependency in her own difficult marriage. Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles, which she now teaches to others. She also trains counselors, pastors, women’s ministry leaders, church leaders, small-group leaders, non-profit ministry leaders, and individuals to minister to Christians in difficult relationships. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, misunderstanding, and emotional pain through a correct understanding of what the Bible teaches about relationships.
Karla Downing is the author of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 2004 Silver Medallion Award winner, 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages. Her second book, When Love Hurts: 10 Principles to Transform Difficult Relationships, applies the same principles to all family members. Her third book, The Truth in the Mirror: A Guide to Healthy Self-Image, offers a unique and life-changing approach to looking at self-image.
She holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hope International University. Karla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Karla was also the director of Friends in Recovery, a Christ-based, Twelve-Step recovery program.
Karla lives in Southern California. She has been married for over thirty years and has three adult daughters.