Marriage and Fighting: Headed for Divorce?
Simple disagreements can become very deeply meaningful, seeming as if a lot is at stake: your ego, your position in the relationship, even your ability to see things reasonably. Now, imagine what happens when you disagree over the big things.
How do you negotiate these situations?
Disagreements in a relationship are perfectly normal. You and your spouse are unique individuals with unique thoughts, needs and experiences that will clash from time to time. Don’t you feel a little suspicious of couples who never argue or disagree? Often, a couple that never fights may be in a relationship that lacks passion. They don’t even care enough to communicate, let alone disagree. Or, they’re tamping down their true feelings—which may be diplomatic, but not a permanent solution.
So, if you and your spouse are in disagreement, in some ways it’s a good sign that you at least have the passion in your relationship to feed a little conflict. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t expend the energy to argue.
With that said, disagreements do need to be handled appropriately. Drawing battle lines isn’t a healthy habit to develop. In fact, constantly taking a “side” opposite your spouse can become very detrimental to the foundation of your marriage, as “me” begins to take precedence over “we.”
Another danger in drawing battle lines is that when a disagreement becomes heated, it can ignite hostility between you and your spouse. The attacks may become personal with name-calling and dismissal of one another’s opinions. This erodes the trust that is so essential to a strong marriage.
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Here are some steps to gauge how effectively you and your spouse compromise and some tips on how you can come into agreement more readily.
Step 1: Understand Compromise in MarriageCompromise in a marriage is not a straightforward matter. You and your spouse may think it means that, as a couple, you will reach the perfect compromise every time you try.
A “perfect” compromise is really an ideal, which means it’s probably not going to happen each time. One or the other of you will find yourself giving in to the other from time to time to preserve the relationship. That’s okay as long as you are satisfied that the overall balance of compromises are maintained.
Instead of looking at each argument and determining who “won” or “lost,” look at the history of your marriage. If you’re satisfied that over the course of your marriage each of you has given in to the other fairly, then over the long haul you’ve been compromising well.
Step 2: Come into Agreement
When there’s a topic you both feel strongly about, agree to hear one another out fully. As you take turns listening, make this the ground rules:
- The speaker gives their thoughts and feelings on the topic.
- The listener, in their own words, explains back these thoughts and feelings as the listener understands them.
- The speaker decides if the listener has understood what they’ve expressed before moving forward.
At this point, you have reached an agreement that you each fully understand the other’s position, and from here, you can brainstorm together on possible solutions that you can come to agreement on.
This will take practice, as it is the skill of negotiation.
Step 3: Record Compromises
This isn’t a negative “keeping tabs” so much as a record of you and your spouse’s important and semi-important decisions. This is a “Compromise Book,” a tangible record of the agreements you have come to, and how the process has worked in your relationship over the years.
It’s a record of the facts, and when one or the other of you begins to feel, “I always give in,” you’ll have a record to support whether there is too much compromise coming from one partner.
My best to you in learning the art of compromise.
Do you and your spouse compromise, or constantly draw battle lines?
Do you think it means you’re headed for divorce, or take it as a sign of passion?
Is a “Compromise Book” something that could help your relationship? How?
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,