6 Smart Ways to Resolve Conflicts in Your Marriage

6 Smart Ways to Resolve Conflicts in Your Marriage

Experts’ best strategies for effectively addressing disagreements with your spouse.

By: Maressa Brown

No matter how compatible you are with your spouse or how long you’ve been together, you may find yourself arguing from time to time. Really, it’s almost as if certain subjects were made to cause head butting with our partner. Thankfully, certain strategies can ensure you “fight fair” and find common ground. Here, six expert-approved ways to communicate more effectively with your spouse -- especially when you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

1. Speak openly and right away. No matter what is getting under your skin, it’s important to bring it up as quickly as possible. “Share feelings in the moment, so that it's fresh and starts up a dialogue about what exactly the problem is,” advises psychologist and relationship expert Jeanette Raymond, PhD, author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! What you don’t want to do is brush it under the rug with hopes of “finding a good moment to let it out,” because later you may find your partner is scared and has his or her wall up, explains Raymond. Better to take care of issues as they arise.

2. Allow time and space for fixes. One or both of you may want to solve a problem immediately, but this may not always be possible, warns Raymond. “Solutions are not static black-and-white events,” she explains. “Rather, they develop and morph over time when each person has a greater understanding of the other’s perspective and can make more room for positions on both sides.” The lesson: Be patient, and try to see things from your spouse’s point of view.

3. Stick to the topic at hand. “Too often during the heat of a fight, couples bring up the past or suggest names of others they claim as supporting their side of the argument,” says Robert Smith, PhD, marriage counseling expert and president of the American Counseling Association. “When this occurs, the fight is exacerbated.” So it’s better to stay focused on yourself, your partner, and the specific conflict you’re attempting to address.

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4. “Warm up” your words. When you have to address something that’s bothering you with your spouse, try to use diplomatic language. “Share with your partner what it means to you when they don't do something you expect,” advises Raymond. At the same time, you want to do your best not to accuse or be critical. This can help you have an effective, productive, and loving conversation.

5. Hear your spouse out. It’s important to express how you feel and why, but it’s also crucial to let your partner speak. “Listen carefully to what your partner is telling you about their needs and why it's so important,” says Raymond. “When you understand where they are coming from, it's easier to compromise because you don't take it as a control or competitive issue.”

6. Strive for closure. Even if you don’t reach an ultimate solution, Smith encourages couples to shoot for some form of closure. “Make up and genuinely apologize,” he recommends. You’ll do well to agree to put things aside and move forward from that point -- as a team.

What helps you and your husband solve conflicts?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewic

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