My wife and I had been married just over a year and we couldn’t stand each other.
Well, I don’t know exactly what she was thinking, but I couldn’t stand her.
It was uncharacteristically hot where we were traveling in Oregon and the hotel she booked for us didn’t have air conditioning. Or ceiling fans. Or a personal shower. Or a personal bathroom. I couldn’t believe it.
I didn’t have anything good to say, so I stayed furiously angry in silent scorn for her. How could she have missed it? How was I supposed to get any sleep when I couldn’t even stay cool? I had trusted her but she messed up. I didn’t care if our relationship felt unstable; I was ready for a fight.
The Truth About Conflict and Marriage
The truth is that no marriage is immune to conflict. It’s inevitable that we’ll have reasons to be mad at each other because we always fail each other in some way.
If you’re married and you’re reading this, you know it’s true.
The question then changes from “how can we avoid conflict?” to “how can we get through this conflict?”
We have by no means figured marriage out. However, we’ve learned a few things you might find useful, too.
3 Things To Remember When Your Marriage Suffers Conflict
1. Yes, you can be angry.
Experiencing the emotion of anger isn’t a sin; God actually wants us to be angry but not sin (Ephesians 4:26).
When you’re angry in your marriage, that’s fine. Just don’t let that anger stop you from communicating.
When communication stops, conflict grows the most dangerous. (tweet that)
Keep the lines of dialogue open the morning after an argument. Even if you hate each other’s guts in the moment, commit to revisit the issue at a time when you’re both prepared to respectfully unpack what the conflict looks like from your perspective and be willing to hear out the other person.
2. No, you don’t need to solve every conflict.
The first years of our relationship, we had operated under the assumption that conflicts happened but we were supposed to fix them. If we didn’t find a resolution right away, or at least soon, then our marriage would crack and eventually crumble. But like most assumptions in relationships, we were so wrong.
Conflict in marriage isn’t a problem to be solved, but a tension to manage. (tweet that)
Some of the conflicts in your marriage aren’t solvable because you are still two different people learning to be one (Mark 10:8). The conflict isn’t because of your relationship, but because of you.
It’s OK and good that you’re two unique individuals with various preferences, perspectives, and methods. Those differences fuel conflicts in your marriage, yes, but they also enable you to work together through them and continue to respect and love each other regardless, even when you least deserve it (Ephesians 5:33).
3. Conflict can be good.
Conflict can actually be good for your marriage if you let it. When you get into a tense conversation, or the tone of a disagreement turns hostile toward each other’s character, it’s going down a road that only leads to regret. But if you’re using the frustration of the moment to communicate more clearly what you see and feel and then listen to each other, you’ll be working toward a better connection than if you hadn’t had the conflict at all.
So step into the ring of marriage—not to hurt each other, but to learn to fight well and figure out a way forward together.
Read more about conflict, relationships, and intentional living at johnweirick.com.