By Dickson Tumuramye
Conflicts in marriage are very common and inevitable. However much couples love each other, they will have misunderstandings, disagreements, challenges and arguments which can result in a conflict. They could even come from something very important to the couple or family. What makes the difference is how a couple is able to resolve that conflict before it escalates into an unending tension.
Appreciating our differences
We need to recognise that we come from different backgrounds, we are trained differently, understand differently, don’t look at things the same way, and have self-made egos. Some couples’ roles are not clarified in their families, some lack knowledge of their partners, while others have personal differences. All these can be sources of conflict.
If not handled properly, they can be worsened by poor or miscommunication between couples. Some conflicts have helped couples to become stronger while to others, marriages have had terrible challenges to the extent of divorce, depression, death or suicide. But you don’t have to reach this far as a couple who started your journey on true love – whether wedded or not. The two of you came together because you got hooked to each other for life.
Identifying a problem
However, most couples don’t easily recognise there is a problem that requires their immediate attention. You can detect an emerging conflict when it becomes hard for the two of you to sustain a conversation together, argue about the same things all the time, don’t feel free with each other anymore, start to keep secrets from your partner, feel relieved when he/she is away, no more usual calls or lovely messages, and can’t pray together.
You can also know when there is a problem when sexual intimacy reduces, stress, silence, and preferring to talk to others more than to your spouse. Before long, the tone of your spouse’s communication changes, he/she responds as if you have quarreled, talks with anger, responds rudely, denies you sex, the man starts coming home late without explanation, each one of you minds his/ her own business, there is prolonged but untold anger.
And the people around you – children, house helps, and workmates – eventually get affected by your reactions/emotions. Unresolved conflicts can affect your marriage and lead you to sin. It is not something that you should take for granted.
Strategic conflict resolution
Ask yourself what effects unresolved conflicts have on your marriage relationship. What about my family, workplace and my personal life? Why is it hard to sit and talk about the issues with my spouse? How long will this unresolved conflict continue? How am I benefitting if I don’t resolve it now?
There is nothing too hard for couples to solve if they recognise the problem early enough lest more challenges emerge. So start by appreciating it is normal to have conflicts, but they must stop. Present the issue to your spouse, and together forge a way out. And as the one being told, listen before you react. Always agree on how you will handle any source of conflict in your marriage/family not matter how painful it may be.
Understanding and valuing your differences is the first step toward resolving conflict. Be transparent when handling your issues and remember both of you are vulnerable and accountable before each other. The Bible is also very clear on how to deal with conflict. Ephesians 4:26-27 says: “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give room to the devil.”
If you keep quiet and sleep with your conflict, it may lead you to sin. Speak now and stay safe. You need to manage your emotions during a conflict, check your attitude, be patient to judge or react negatively, and ask yourself if what you hear is true. You should also know the proper time for you to solve the conflict.
Read the moods of your spouse, forgive your spouse, be empathetic and know that in all marriages, conflicts are inevitable but it takes the two of you to solve them whenever they arise. Avoid referring to the previously solved conflicts whenever you are trying to solve the current one. Remember, conflicts are very healthy for your growth and development if well managed.
The writer is a parenting coach and marriage counselor. firstname.lastname@example.org