Sometimes I look at Facebook photos and I begin to think other couples never argue.
Of course, if I stop and ponder even just for a minute, I know that can’t be true. Marriage and family life are things people are passionate about. When we care deeply and are all in we are bound to disagree.
Recently I attended a wedding shower. As the bride-to-be opened her gifts, the giver of the gift offered marital advice. Most of the advice revolved around how to deal with conflict.
Conflict is inevitable. How we approach and address it matters. It impacts our marital health and our kids well-being.
Homes where destructive patterns occur can cause anxiety, depression, or aggression in kids. It may negatively impact our children’s future relationships and sibling interaction. None of us want this.
Don’t do these 5 things (unless you want to destroy your relationship):
- Verbal abuse like: name calling, treats of divorce, swearing, yelling.
- Physical aggression: pushing, hitting, hair pulling.
- Passive-aggressive behaviors: the surprise attacks. Things are going well, then a dagger of meanness in the form of a joke or sarcasm enters the fray.
- Implosive tactics like: silence, avoidance, or withdrawal. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not more noble than the explosive reaction.
- Indifference or capitulation are not any better. This communicates, “I don’t care.” This may be the most cruel and worst of all.
When moms and dads, husbands and wives participate in these behaviors the stress hormone, cortisol rises and it affects our physical well-being. It divides rather than unites us. The same happens in our children when they are exposed to these negative conflict patterns. Children have acute spider sense. Their emotions are closely tied to their parents’ behavior and feelings.
The basic needs of belonging and security are hard-wired into each person. When we use gorilla warfare in our homes we will have a battlefield versus a training ground for our kids.
Here are 10 helpful ways to prevent, approach, reduce, and address conflict. (Some of these were presented with the presents at the wedding shower):
- Remember we are human. Leave room for mistakes. Have humility and empathy when working through an issue.
- Remember to whom you are speaking. Assume the best. If you are unsure ask rather than accuse.
- Remember your spouse is your ally not your adversary. You own a home together. You have kids together. You are on the same team.
- Remember to own your stuff. Take responsibility. Don’t blame to even the score.
- Remember, “I told you so” doesn’t help, only shames. It is soooo tempting to say–but don’t. The person who made the mistake already knows it and knows why.
- Remember to laugh often, have fun, have a sense of humor. Life doesn’t have to be so hard.
- Remember to build each other up privately and publicly. Always build up and encourage your loved ones. That’s what a wise person does.
- Remember to date each other. Do the things that drew you together in the first place.
- Remember to hold hands and hug. A little PDA is A-Okay.
- Remember to be kind. Kindness, respect, and tenderness prevent discord and increase unity.
Perhaps some of us grew up in a home where gorilla warfare was used. We do not have to repeat the battle tactics used. We are smart people who can learn another way. Retrain your brain. Think about how to handle conflict differently. Use the 10 helpful ways to deal with conflict to replace the hurtful habits with which you may have been raised.
If we pray for our spouse and pray that our own hearts will be softened toward our loved ones, we find God changes us and then family dynamics are altered. And…when we mess up, we can choose to say we are sorry, ask for forgiveness, and commit to approaching difficulties differently.
We can, with God’s help, change how we interact with those we love.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
What will you do differently after reading this article?
If you found this article helpful you may want to also read:
My Kid Likes to Pick Fights with Me
4 Ways to Navigate Toxic Relationships
7 Ways to Curb the Mad
Top 12 Phrases that are Sure to Guarantee a Fight
7 Ways to Squelch Sibling Rivalry
By Lori Wildenberg
Wife to Tom, mom of 4 plus one daughter-in-love
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of 3 parenting books, national speaker, licensed parent-family educator
Lori is currently scheduling her speaking engagements for the 2016-17 school year. contact her for more information or to schedule her for you next event.
Lori also provides parent consulting. Contact her to schedule an appointment.
Anger and how to address it is thoroughly covered in both Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love. Head over to the 1C13P Store to pick up your copy. Or you can find Lori & Becky’s books at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.