In an ideal world, a marriage is supposed to withstand various storms and stand upright after they subside. But often we discover to our dismay that we are unable to come up with ways to weather these storms and then we buckle under the pressure. Constant conflicts between a couple can erode trust and this can be very damaging to a relationship.
When two people brought up in two different families are thrown together for a long period of time, there is bound to be some turbulence. Why, sometimes two siblings brought up in the same family cannot get along with each other as adults. So why should we expect partners in a marriage to agree on everything?
However, like in everything else to do with life, there are always ways to get around conflicts and forge a closer bond with your partner. The trick is to find a healthy way to handle conflicts, to understand why they keep cropping up and then to work on resolving them in order to rebuild trust in the relationship.
Tune in to the Emotions of You and your Partner
Emotions drive our behavior, so it is important to understand where they spring from and why. Acknowledge your own feelings first and process them. Then try and identify your partner's emotions by asking them about what they are going through. Don't assume that you know what's in their mind.
It is important though to talk about your feelings without seeming to accuse the other. This awareness will help you understand the reason for the conflict. Repression of emotions only promotes a growing feeling of resentment which may then erupt at the slightest trigger. If you feel that your partner is harbouring some kind of resentment towards you, ask for clarification. Sometimes what you think may not even be the truth.
Be True to Your Word
Trust is built on making your partner feel that you are dependable. Most conflicts in a marriage come from not keeping your word. It can be as simple as going for the much promised holiday together, or not bringing your work home when you know that it is a bone of contention between you, or disengaging from all your gadgets to spend quality time together. Your actions have to match your words for your partner to trust you completely. If you build this foundation, then any conflict can be resolved.
Deal with the Elephant in the Room
There are some contentious issues like finance, in-laws, sexual intimacy etc., which are never discussed, either because they always lead to an argument or because they are uncomfortable topics. Walking on eggshells around your partner and avoiding a healthy discussion is not conducive to building an open and honest relationship. This also leads to a breakdown in communication and increases the chasm between couples. So share your misgivings and your feelings with your partner and build a safe emotional space where both of you can engage with each other without any inhibitions. Try not to leave issues unresolved for too long because this breeds resentment and will keep cropping up in your fights.
Don't Rehash the Past
The number one factor that makes conflicts more unpleasant is the habit that a lot of us have - bringing up the past long after the event has happened, sometimes even after 30 years! Bringing up the past time and again does not serve any purpose other than keeping the wound fresh and not allowing it to heal. Learn to forgive and let go of your grievances in the interest of a better relationship. Otherwise you will be carrying a heavy burden of past baggage on your shoulders that will not allow you to move forward. It would be well worth your effort to think about what battles to fight and what to drop. Do you want to be happy or be right all the time?
Accept Differences in Outlook
We generally tend to seek out partners who complement us. For example if one partner is not terribly organized, they will tend to look for someone very efficient. But these very qualities that are admired at the beginning of a relationship can become the reason for conflict later on. Learn to appreciate the differences and be open to the different qualities that each of you brings to the table. Use it to your advantage instead of letting it drive a wedge between you.
A marriage, like any other relationship, is dynamic and needs to be nurtured with love and acceptance. And for this the key ingredient is trust. Conflict is normal in any relationship, but the challenge is learning to resolve it with both partners emerging as winners. In the process both your needs as well as your partner's have to be met. The ability to feel secure with your partner lays the foundation for a healthy marriage. You can make a difference in your marriage with healthy doses of love, patience, forgiveness, honesty, commitment and a really large spoonful of trust!