Here we go again. You and your spouse just can’t see eye to eye on this one thing. And now you know what will come next. The arguing becomes mean, with sarcastic attacks and cruel insults. You talk over each other.
And then the stonewalling begins. You know your spouse isn’t hearing you, so why should you even try to hear them? You both hide behind your fortress walls, refusing to wave the white flag first. You find yourself alone in your home, even with your spouse sitting across from you.
It takes all of your self-control to not cry yourself to sleep every night. You don’t want your spouse to see just how much it hurts you. And then you wake up, and the cycle begins again.
Sound familiar? I get it. I’ve been there.
Conflict is one of those Achilles’ heels for marriages. It can break down communication so quickly you almost don’t even see it happen. And when communication breaks down, so does your confidence in your marriage.
And now, you don’t even feel safe talking about things that you think could cause an argument. Finances? Forget it. Parenting? Ha! Sex? Not even!
BUT! (And yes, I mean a big BUT), there is hope! Hope for better conversations. Hope for healthier discussions, even when you don’t agree. Hope for the joy and passion to be reignited.
Sound like a unicorn? Sometimes I wish I could say it was so I didn’t have to work so hard.
IT’S NOT A UNICORN! THIS IS FOR REAL!
I have seen so many dead marriages be resurrected from the grave, and most of them through changing their way of handling conflict. It is such an incredible sight to see!
I don’t even think I could put words to the emotions I have witnessing a marriage go from starving and mean to fulfilling, lively, and full of grace. It is truly a humbling experience in my marriage counseling sessions.
So, what can you do to stop fighting in marriage? Here are 3 tips:
- Find out what your fights look like.
- Define what healthy conflict looks like for your marriage.
- Remember, you will NOT get this right all the time.
1. Find out what your fights look like.
First, you need to figure out what your fighting truly is about.
Conflict is two people who have different points of view on a certain issue. Combat is when people are being cruel and trying to destroy their spouse in order to “win” the argument. And yet, no one wins in this scenario.
Are you really fighting about the dishes? Or is it something else? Something deeper?
Is it pride? Is it feelings of inadequacy? Is it questioning the stability/security of your marriage?
Finding out what you are really fighting about will help you figure out what to do next. I talk a little bit more about the difference between conflict and combat in my previous blog on conflict in marriage.
2. Define what healthy conflict looks like for your marriage.
Once you understand this difference, you can consider the best ways you and your partner can have healthy conflict.
Essentially, you need to focus on cooperation over who is right and who is wrong in order for conflict to be healthy.
This is not about you being right or wrong. This is not about your spouse being right or wrong. This is about strengthening your marriage.
This is about prioritizing your marriage over your pride.
Now, here is where a lot of people will get confused. "Wait, I thought you said we would stop fighting? Are you saying we will keep fighting anyways??"
Fighting is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about having disagreements, not seeing eye-to-eye all the time, WITHOUT these issues causing an explosion, a Mount Vesuvius, in your marriage.
I go a little more in depth into this idea in my previous healthy conflict in marriage blog.
3. Remember, you will NOT get this right all the time.
YOU WILL GET THIS WRONG. A LOT.
YOUR PARTNER will get this wrong. A lot.
So show each other grace and understanding as you learn a new way of communicating. When you make a mistake and go back to your old ways, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn where things went wrong, and then learn how to respond better in the future.
When your spouse gets it wrong and begins stonewalling again, don’t berate them and shame them for their mistake. Extend grace and have an open discussion about what would be helpful next time.
Then, through cooperation and grace, you are able to grow with your marriage instead of in opposition to it.
You will see your marriage become stronger, the fights become less intense, and the love become more powerful than ever!
Take care, friends!
Alisha Sweyd, LMFT