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Conflict + Marriage = Longevity Seeing Conflict in a New Light

Posted on Jan 08 2016 under Blog Posts

heart-583895_1920Over the course of 2015, I have asked many couples what they believe to be the key to their marriage. I like asking this question for two purposes: 1) As a soon-be-married and now married woman, I wanted wisdom on marriage from long-wedded couples; and 2) I liked hearing the contrasting responses between the husband and the wife. Recently, I asked this question to a couple that was celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. The wife couldn’t put into words what made their marriage work; but, the husband responded, “Disagreeing and arguing with one another. We argue every day; it keeps things interesting!”

Out of all the times, I’ve asked this question, (and trust me, I’ve asked a lot) this was the first time I received this response. I smiled when he said this because I have often thought arguing has been the key to my husband Bernard, and I’s pre-martial success. Bernard and I are very stubborn and strong-minded individuals with widely different worldviews. We started bickering the day we met, and we haven’t stopped.

I have talked with new couples who find themselves frequently arguing. One or both of them are concerned because they are fighting so much that they begin to think their relationship is doomed. Arguing and conflict have become so taboo in this day and age that people fear it. Conflict does not have to be a bad thing; it doesn’t have to be screaming, tears, and slamming doors. In school, we learned that it is all about how you manage it. I believe in romantic relationships; conflict is necessary for a couple to grow into a cohesive unit.

Since I have been discussing the topic of excessive arguing and conflict in romantic relationships recently, I thought I would give some different perspectives on how to approach conflict with your partner. Hopefully, in reading this, you can utilize these tips in your relationships and see bickering in a different light.

Think of it as collaborating. You are two people exchanging ideas on how to resolve an issue. Engaging in a conflict with your significant other shouldn’t feel like you are in a court of law and need to defend your case. Explain what you are worried about and work with your partner to generate solutions.

Examine your partner’s side. If your significant other and you are standing on completely different sides of an issue, try and understand their point of view. Ask them to explain, actively listen and clarify what you hear to understand their perspective. My husband sees the world much differently than I do. I often view things from a much more emotional standpoint where he is strictly logical. Each of us has had to expand ourselves to see the world through our partner’s eyes, but I feel I am a much better person because of it.

Be referees in your relationship. Bernard and I have both been guilty of instigating and making snippy remarks when we are in the heat of a disagreement. These moments can escalate our arguments which only makes things worse. We now fix that issue by making a habit of calling one another on foul plays. We make one another accountable for our actions and what we say and allows the other to apologize or calm down for a moment and take a few breaths.

Conflict with you significant other can help strengthen your bond. I hope that in reading this, you can utilize these tips in your relationships and see bickering in a different light.


Abigail R.C. McManus


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