How do you cultivate healthy conflict in your relationship? And why would you even want to?
You’ve probably heard that communication is the key to a healthy relationship a million times… but did you know that disagreements are a key to healthy communication?
It’s true! You and your loved one aren’t always going to agree on everything, and that’s okay. In fact, marriage is about gaining a different perspective. That’s what makes you better together!
The question is, can you disagree agreeably?
Real communication doesn’t mean agreeing with each other all of the time—it’s the ability to disagree and come out stronger on the other side!
“Make it your goal to create a marriage that feels like the safest place on earth.” -Gary Smalley
That should always be our goal when communicating with our spouse, especially during disagreements!
DISAGREEING DOESN’T MEAN YOUR MARRIAGE IS BAD
One of the most poisonous expectations you can put on your relationship is the need to be perfect. Take the pressure off! It’s okay if you disagree with your spouse or fiance on something–in fact, it’s healthy and normal.
If your goal is to have the “perfect” relationship, you’ll find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster. You’ll hold your spouse and you to impossible standards. Instead of simply moving on after a disagreement, you’ll start evaluating your relationship every time you hit a bump in the road.
Instead of taking a magnifying glass to your marriage, monitor the health of your relationship by looking at it as a whole.
Are you happy? Are there any significant issues that need resolving?
IT’S OKAY TO STEP AWAY
Have you ever gotten heated about something that you didn’t even care that much about?
You know, a small conversation about Skim milk versus 2% milk escalates into a full-blown argument… and you don’t even drink milk.
So, why do we dig our heels in and let small issues turn into massive wars?
When we talk about marriage, we talk a lot about the need for communication. However, sometimes the best thing we can do is STOP communicating.
That’s right. Stop communicating!
When it seems like a conversation is at a standstill and only going downhill, take a break from the discussion.
Don’t storm out of the room angrily, slam the door, and leave without saying a word. Instead, you need to communicate that you think a few minutes alone would be beneficial. You could say, “I feel like this conversation is escalating, and we could both use a few minutes to cool down and think.”
Remember, once something is said, it can’t be unsaid. It’s easy to approach arguments as one person wins and one person loses, but in marriage, that’s not how it works. Both people win, or both people lose. You decide!
NEVER SAY NEVER
It’s not just the title of a Justin Bieber song… it’s a great piece of relationship advice!
- “You never ask me how I feel.”
- “You always mess things up.”
- “You never pick up after yourself.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“Always” and “never” statements are toxic to healthy conflict in your relationship. When you tell somebody that they always do something wrong, or that they’ll never get something right, you are making them a prisoner to their mistakes.
We use these kinds of statements to punish our significant other. We want to make them feel bad for what they did, like a mom scolding a child. We don’t like it when our spouses do this to us, so let’s not do it to them!
“Always” and “never” statements are not only extraordinarily hurtful and discouraging, but also they can cause our spouse to change how they see themselves. The damage can be far more significant than what we ever intended.
THAT MAKES ME FEEL…
Instead of “always” and “never” statements, try to use “I feel” comments to keep the communication moving in a good direction.
Here are some examples of how to use “I feel” in your communication:
- “When you don’t tell me how you’re feeling, I feel like you don’t trust me.”
- “When you don’t pick up after yourself, I feel like you’re saying your time is more important than mine.”
- “When you complain about stuff getting done around the house, I feel like you’re saying I’m a bad husband.”
These statements help both parties see the other person’s point of view, as well as keep the conversation open.
What are your favorite tips for managing healthy conflict in your relationship? Let us know in the comments!