Last weekend, I went out of town for a wedding. On the drive there, my wife and I discussed a few of the weddings we have attended of couples whose marriages, unfortunately, ended in divorce. At each of those weddings, the bride and groom appeared to be deeply in love. Yet somewhere along the way, things went wrong and their marriages ended.Sometimes, it’s our actions that damage our relationships.
I am convinced that the majority of couples are sincere in their vows and enter marriage with no thought that they eventually might get divorced. However, the divorce rate in the United States is right around 50 percent. You probably don’t want to be part of that statistic, so it’s important to know the things that ruin a marriage. Sometimes, it’s our actions that damage our relationships. Other times, our avoidance of action is the problem. Avoiding these things will kill your marriage.
1. Resolving Conflict
Conflict will happen in every marriage. It is unavoidable. But if you avoid resolving it, you put your marriage in danger. One factor that can affect a marriage’s outcome is whether the couple deals with the conflict in healthy ways or unhealthy ways.
Healthy Ways to Handle Conflict
First, the couple needs to listen to each other—really listen. Think about the point the other is trying to make rather than planning a counterargument. Then, the couple needs to focus on solving the problem. Too often, we are worried about being right. Determining who is right only places blame on the other person. Just skip that step and focus on finding a solution to the problem. Throughout the process of solving the conflict, it’s crucial that both partners respect the other’s perspective. It’s OK to have different opinions, but we must respect the other side of the argument.
Unhealthy Ways to Handle Conflict
Couples often ignore conflict or deny that a problem is really a problem. This allows the conflict to get worse. Minimizing concerns or downplaying the importance of an issue by one spouse can lead to hurt feelings and resentment in the other. Some couples do the opposite and exaggerate issues. This person takes a small problem a couple could solve easily and treats it as a major problem. A third factor is allowing verbal arguments to become ugly. When couples resort to name-calling and bringing up sensitive past issues, the relationship is headed down the wrong path.
2. Experiencing All the Emotions Together
My wife and I have shared many emotional moments over the years. This has ranged from the joys of the births of our three children to excitement and nervousness about new jobs to the anguish of unexpected deaths in the family. Through it all, we have been there with each other, relying on one another. These types of emotion-filled experiences are key to developing a close relationship as a married couple. We run into issues when we avoid sharing all our emotions with our wives.
Share with her more than anyone.
Sometimes, we share moments like these with others instead of with our wives. And it’s OK to celebrate moments like a promotion with co-workers or friends. Friends can be great sources of support and encouragement. But we also must include our wives. When you share your most emotional moments with your wife, you reassure her that she’s the most important person in your life, whether times are good or bad.
Let her support you.
Other times, we pull away from support. This can be very tempting, especially during sad times. We may experience guilt, shame, and embarrassment about being sad or the idea of sharing may seem just too painful. As men, we may want to be the strength in the relationship. We want our wives to be able to rely on us. But we also need to trust our wives and accept their loving support. Their support will help us get through the tough times. Your openness to it also will communicate that you’re a team and that you value the strength your wife brings to the relationship.
Earn some points: Share this iMOM article with your wife and discuss it: 4 Communication Habits to Avoid in Your Marriage.
Sound off: Who do you share your happy moments with?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think are some good and bad ways to handle conflict?”