When it comes to dealing with conflict in marriage, the question is not if you will have conflict but when you will have conflict. After the “I do,” conflict is a necessary part of even healthy marriages because no two people will ever agree on everything. However, many couples begin to “undo” the “I do” because they misinterpret Proverbs 20:3 and make the colossal mistake of avoiding conflict at all cost. For many, it ends up costing them their marriage because they lack conflict resolution skills that won’t undo the “I do.”
Proverbs 20:3 “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.”
This scripture does not mean that you should avoid conflict in your marriage. In fact, conflict is necessary for both partners to have balance and each gets their needs met. What it does warn against is fighting, quarreling and destroying one another with strife.
So, let’s talk about avoiding conflict with an example. I want your input on this far too common marital scenario:
A couple has been married for seven years with two children (ages 2 and 5). The first three years of their marriage were the best. They were able to purchase a new home, secure or maintain employment, go on frequent dates, have fun, and keep things spicy and sexy at home.
However, year three presented some problems after their first child was born because the wife’s role in the marriage changed dramatically. Before kids, she would cook 4 nights a week. She would clean, work a full-time job and pursue her hobbies in her free time.
After having kids, however, she found herself having little to no time to pursue her hobbies. Meanwhile, her husband somehow managed to keep his. He would occasionally “help” with the children but most of the responsibility somehow fell on her. Now, she cooks, cleans, parents, works full-time and maintains her side hustle, gives the kids their baths, helps with homework, prepares their lunch, drops kids off at school/daycare, takes them to the doctor, and the list goes on and on.
It’s year 7 now, and the wife feels as if she has completely lost herself. She loves her children dearly but misses her “me time,” fun times with her friends, and feeling sexy again as a wife. They have not taken a couples only vacation since the kids were born, infrequently date, and center too much of their conversation around household business. She is extremely unhappy, bored, and overwhelmed with her day-to-day life but loves being a wife and mother.
However, she is conflicted about what to do.
Option A: Should she bring up her unhappiness to her husband so that she can get a break? If she does, it may work! Can you imagine going shopping without kids? However, what if her husband resists and it leads to a conflict? She tried saying something earlier and her husband shut her down quickly because his mother raised four kids alone after his father left and “never complained.”
Option B: Should she suck it up, embrace giving up personal needs as a necessary evil of marriage and motherhood, and avoid conflict with her husband?
What would you do?
I am sure this will create spirited debate but if you are asking a professional psychologist for twenty years, I would advise the wife to pick Option A…even though it will lead to conflict. Why?
Quite simply, “Option B” is unsustainable. Both parties in a marriage need “me time” or oxygen to survive. Psalm 25:5 refers to “my cup runneth over” which can be applied to marriage. If the mom is the cup, and her cup is empty, how can she realistically be expected to pour into her husband, children, and work without neglecting herself?
Right. She can’t.
She will eventually become overwhelmed, irritable, depressed and unhappy in the marriage. She has neglected her needs for so long that it has become a way of life; one that robs her of joy and makes her long for the good times when she used to be able to have fun.
The wives who wait to speak up tend to have a high divorce rate once the kids leave for college. Other wives lose their health, put on weight (or lose too much), and let themselves go. This is a problem because the husband often complains about her appearance or even pursues outside attention because his wife is “too busy” for him. Another set of women, eventually snap and blindside their husbands with “the talk” where they reveal how unhappy they have been for years and want separation or divorce.
What should she have done? I’m glad you asked. My twenty years experience counseling couples through conflict resolution has taught me she should:
- Talk about marital and parenting expectations up front.
- Engage in weekly to monthly meetings to assess the “State of the Marriage” so that a bad pattern of marriage does not become a lifestyle.
- Initiate conflict in a loving way to discuss necessary changes that will allow both husband and wife to have a fulfilling life.
Sounds good right? The thing is that a lot of professionals will often tell you what to do but neglect training you HOW to do it.
- What exactly do you say?
- What if he won’t listen?
- What if you have mom guilt about having fun away from the kids?
I get it! That’s why I want to show you HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT IN YOUR MARRIAGE. You see, on the flip side, arguing too much can literally kill your marriage too. I want to help prevent that from happening for you.
There are many solutions for successfully resolving marital conflict. I cover this in a FREE online training I am doing April 3rd at 9 pm on resolving conflict, specifically geared towards Christian marriages. I can record it for you too if you absolutely cannot make this date.
Here’s what happens next…check out this page to register and reserve your seat right now. We did this workshop a few months ago and the training was filled to capacity. So, register now. You don’t have to spend another night going to bed angry.
Here are two scriptures to prepare your mindset that deal with discussing faults, making adjustments, and setting conflict in marriage.
Ephesians 4:2 – Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
BMWK, What do you think? Agree with the Doc or disagree? What would you do? Go ahead, you be the marriage expert and chime in.
By Dr. Alduan Tarrt: Dr. Alduan Tartt is a clinical psychologist with a focus on faith, mental health and relationships of all sorts (single, dating, marriage, family, sports, etc.). Dr. Tartt has a private practice and also speaks frequently at conferences, churches, organizations on improving relationships, families and mental health. Dr. Tartt also hosts radio and television shows and is a frequent guest on major media outlets. Dr. Tartt also counsels other healers and helpers (pastors, ministers, doctors, entertainers) who need to be encouraged, supported and filled up.