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How to turn marital conflict into an opportunity

COUPLE FIGHTING
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A fight can be a blessing in disguise for both partners … if they follow a few simple rules.

“My wife and I are always fighting,” says Ed. “I can’t stand it when she makes a scene, it exhausts the both of us and leaves us disappointed. When we can’t agree, I prefer ending the discussion, which only makes my wife angrier. I am afraid we made a mistake in deciding to get married.”

This is a common experience for many couples.

In closely observing emotional factors that lead to these conflicts, it appears that they result from a clash of beliefs, feelings, and intentions. The one who beats a retreat does so because he or she feels unable to continue the confrontation. Worse, sometimes the fear is so great, they avoid the fight altogether. But is this always the best attitude to assume? 

The benefits of conflicts

Fleeing open confrontation does not resolve the underlying conflict and poisons the relationship.  Can a fight become an occasion to acknowledge and show your respect for each other’s differences?

Don’t be afraid to say how you feel: this allows each of you to exist in your own right. If one of you totally disregards the frustrations of the other, you risk animosity. But first ask yourself the following question: “Am I capable of distinguishing between my emotions (the fear of hurting my partner’s feelings, my own stubbornness) and the fundamental issues at stake?” 

A few rules to follow before confronting your partner

Before confronting your partner, you must acknowledge that you don’t enjoy these fights (and tell this to your partner). For this, you will need to respect a few simple rules: use the first person (“I feel” or “I’d rather ….”), and learn how to listen carefully. Like Moses (Deut. 4:30), you must dare to believe that a harmonious relationship is the consequence of learning how to really hear each other. 

Marie-Noël Florant

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