Conflicts are commonplace in all types of relationships, be it family, business partners, colleagues, friends, etc. Marriages are no different. For some people to believe that perfect marriages don’t involve conflicts, that they are negative and adversely affect the quality of the relationship, would not be correct.
Conflicts in marriage are bound to occur as every individual comes from a different background, upbringing, life experiences and habits. After getting married, as we get to know each other well, we may realise that, though we love our spouse, we do not necessarily approve of all their behaviours. This is one of the common sources of conflict. According to a survey conducted by Dr. Jessica Leong on a sample of 134 divorced individuals, 48.9–55.6% of the male respondents and 50.6- 57.3% of the female respondents reported loss of love, lack of communication, personality differences, and frequent quarrels as the primary factors that contributed to marital instability.
There are fairly common areas that give rise to conflicts in a marriage
Expectations: everyone has their fantasy expectation of how the marriage is going to be like. Setting unrealistic expectations from the relationship and the partner often leads to conflicts.
Communication: Communication being the cornerstone of every relationship is one of the highly-reported reason for conflicts. We often hear but we don’t listen and expect our partners to be a mind reader and just understand everything.
Physical intimacy: balancing personal commitments with work is hard enough, add raising children to it and it becomes almost impossible to give time to oneself or to partner. Often spouses are either “not in the mood” or “too tired”, which becomes a constant strain as physical intimacy is equally important as emotional intimacy.
Adjusting to a new environment: It does take time to get accustomed to each other’s lifestyles and families. Although it’s amazing to get some tips from people who we surround ourselves with, one should not let someone else run their marriage. Constantly listening to someone else’s idea of a perfect marriage may not be too perfect for you.
Parenting: Parenting is easy, said no parent ever. There is no general rulebook on ‘how to raise your child’. We may not always agree with our spouse’s way of parenting and end up disagreeing over it in front of the kids, which even creates confusion among them as to who to listen to.
Time: We often hear couples complain that their partner or spouse doesn’t have time for them. Sometimes work, parenting, and other family or social commitments completely take over our lives that we hardly spend any quality time with our spouse.
Household chores: It’s not always possible for one spouse to do all the household work, and on top of that if that spouse is keeping a score of the times their partner failed to do their part is only going to make things worse.
Partner Comparison: it usually happens with friends that when together, they like to complain or boast about their partners. Some may say that, ‘my husband got me this’ or ‘my wife looks after everything at home, I don’t have to do anything’ etc. At this point we start thinking about all the things that are wrong with our partners.
Although conflicts offer an opportunity to people to get to know each other better and grow together in a more positive way, it all depends on how well we are able to handle and manage conflicts that arise with time. When handled positively, it leads to an increase in understanding, patience, respect and love for one another. However, if handled poorly, conflicts could lead to misunderstandings, resentment and broken relationships.
Following are some of the ways to resolve conflicts in marriage:
Set realistic expectations: it’s important to know what we can and can’t do, same goes for our spouse. Setting realistic expectations from ourselves, our spouses and our marriage saves us from getting unnecessarily hurt.
Communicate: we often assume that our spouses are aware of how we feel about them and things around us, but that often leads to misunderstandings. It’s better to communicate than letting the other person assume things we may not even mean. Also, it’s healthy to tell your spouse how much they mean to you.
Quality time: take out some time to spend with your spouse, they need us more than they’d like to admit.
Appreciate: Instead of focusing on the things that your spouse failed to do, appreciate them for the times that they’ve made our lives easier. Acknowledge and appreciate one another, a small thank you goes a long way.
Be patient: dealing with conflict has always turned out to be smoother when we are patient and accepting towards the outcome of the resolve.
Keep yourself occupied: an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. When we have more time at hand, we tend to ruminate over all the things that are not right in our relationship. It’s better to keep yourself busy with the things you like, enjoy some personal time as well, to bring more positivity to your life.
Respect each other: Do not go for character assassination. It’s one thing to criticize behaviour, and circumstances, however, attacking your spouse’s personality or character is not acceptable.
Do not play the blame game: blaming each other for everything that’s wrong won’t get us anywhere. Instead, identify the core of the conflict and focus on resolving that.
Choose happiness somewhere we all want to be right, but one should understand at what cost, especially not at the cost of the relationship. It’s okay to make some mistakes, let it go, say sorry and choose happiness over being right if that makes your partner or spouse happy.
Forgive: do not hold on to the things that didn’t go well in the past, it leads to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is a virtue and to be forgiving of one another’s shortcomings paves way to a stronger bond.
As daunting as it may seem, conflicts in fact are healthy for the growth of a marriage in a longer run. It brings out new insights about our spouses, something we may not have otherwise noticed. It also helps individuals to grow together in a relationship.
**Statistics are for indicative purposes only.
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