In any group of people there are different agendas," said my friend, who ought to know because she has a PhD in psychology.
"And different agendas mean conflict."
Now comes the important part. "A group is any number more than one!"
So a marriage is a group. That means two different agendas. And that means conflict.
There can be many reasons for conflict in a marriage:
Infidelity is involved in about one divorce in five. Some marriages can survive infidelity. But if there is another man or woman in your life, then you are not in a committed relationship and there is a problem with your marriage.
Verbal or physical violence is reason for divorce. Everyone has the right to be free from unwanted touching and physical harm. Words can hurt as much or more as physical pain. Spouses can be put out of the marital home for verbal or physical violence.
Sometimes control is the issue. A husband may find success in the business world by exerting control. He tries to run his house the same way. A wife may stifle her emotional needs for years in the hopes that things will get better. Finally she leaves. Even if he tries to change now it is too late. She does not believe him.
Disagreement over finances may cause conflict. Opposites attract. A wife who is a saver might marry a spender. The wife might feel like she is rescuing the husband by providing order and a budget. The husband might enjoy the structure that the wife brings. But after a while, the restrictions are too binding and the husband rebels. The wife reacts by being even more strict than she normally would be on her own. Different financial strategies and philosophies can cause conflict in a marriage.
People have different approaches to parenting. One parent may feel the other is too strict with the children. Another may feel the other parent is too lenient with the children and that the children need to learn independence. One parent may feel the other is lax about the children's weight or medical problems. The other sees that parent as overprotective and perhaps even a hypochondriac.
There are alternatives to divorce. By the time people get to the lawyer's office, they have usually made up their minds to get a divorce. But a few change their minds, or want to give their marriage one last chance. In that case, there are a few things you can try.
It is difficult to discuss these issues with your spouse. And some couples have no communication at all. You have to get your thoughts out of your head and into your mouth and then onto paper. Sometimes all it takes is sitting down at the kitchen table and talking to each other.
However, most of us think that if we talk and talk, the other person will finally be persuaded that we are right. That will not work in this situation. You both have to listen and acknowledge what the other person has said before you speak.
Mediators are trained professionals who remain neutral and will help you reach agreements. It may be possible to negotiate a post-marital agreement to resolve some of the conflicts that have arisen in your marriage. In addition to finances, you can even include such details as who will cook meals, who will carry out the trash or how frequently you will have sex.
Counseling is a good way to figure out what to do. The marriage counselor will ask questions that help you think more clearly about what is going on and what you want. The marriage counselor will help the two of you communicate better with each other and provide ways for you to resolve your conflicts. When control is the issue in a marriage, sometimes all the couple needs is a good conflict resolution mechanism.
10 ways to solve marital conflicts: Conventional wisdom (and research) says that good communication can improve relationships, increasing intimacy, trust and support. The converse is also true: poor communication can weaken bonds, creating mistrust and even contempt! Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can exacerbate conflict in a relationship. How many of these sound like something you'd do?
1. Avoiding Conflict Altogether: Rather than discussing building frustrations in a calm, respectful manner, some people just don't say anything to their partner until they're ready to explode, and then blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way. This seems to be the less stressful route--avoiding an argument altogether--but usually causes more stress to both parties as tensions rise, resentments fester, and a much bigger argument eventually results. It's much healthier to address and resolve conflict.
These assertiveness communication skills can help you to say things in a way where you will be more likely to be heard, without being disrespectful to the other person.
2. Being Defensive: Rather than addressing a partner's complaints with an objective eye and willingness to understand the other person's point of view, defensive people steadfastly deny any wrongdoing and work hard to avoid looking at the possibility that they could be contributing to a problem. Denying responsibility may seem to alleviate stress in the short run, but creates long-term problems when partners don't feel listened to and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow.
3. Overgeneralizing: When something happens that they don't like, some blow it out of proportion by making sweeping generalizations. Avoid starting sentences with, "You always," and, "You never," as in, "You always come home late!" or, "You never do what I want to do!" Stop and think about whether or not this is really true. Also, don't bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution, and increases the level of conflict.
Sometimes we're not aware of the ways the mind can blow things out of proportion. This list of common cognitive distortions can get in the way of healthy relationships with others, and can exacerbate stress levels. See which ones may be familiar to you.
4. Being Right: It's damaging to decide that there's a "right" way to look at things and a "wrong" way to look at things, and that your way of seeing things is right. Don't demand that your partner see things the same way, and don't take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion. Look for a compromise or agreeing to disagree, and remember that there's not always a "right" or a "wrong," and that two points of view can both be valid.
5. "Psychoanalyzing": Instead of asking about their partner's thoughts and feelings, peop