Conflict Is A Normal And Natural Part Of Your “Happily Ever After”

By Aaron & April Jacob

When Sara and Ryan were newly married, they experienced a handful of frustrating conversations that evolved into emotionally-charged disputes.

Sara was devastated.

She thought that their relationship was in a bad place and that they were, perhaps even worse, doomed for divorce.

That’s because Sara loathes conflict. Like, really, really loathes it. And so, whenever things aren’t going perfectly well in her relationship, she’s a total mess.

Her husband, Ryan, has always been okay with conflict and doesn’t feel a need for things to be resolved immediately. While Sara is the type of person who never wants to go to bed angry, Ryan is a firm believer that going to bed angry is sometimes the best option.

You see for Sara, conflict breeds stress and the false assumption that her marriage is terrible, irreparable, and that it might end in divorce even though she and her husband are both deeply committed to making it work and staying together through thick and thin.

What Sara didn’t realize as a young love-struck newlywed is an important lesson for all married couples: conflict in marriage is inevitable.

One more time: conflict in marriage is inevitable.

In fact, not only is conflict in marriage inevitable, but it’s also perfectly normal.

It’s a part of life.
Why do you think wedding vows include phrases like “for better for worse,” “for richer for poorer,” “in sickness and health,” and “through thick and thin?”

They include those phrases because a) the people who wrote those vows are pretty smart and have experienced this thing we call “marriage” and b) conflict is an unavoidable part of life, and therefore, an unavoidable, and even important part of your “happily ever after” – even though it’s not something you see in the movies!

In reality, Sara was in error over the years by believing that if there was conflict in her marriage, she couldn’t be truly happy since conflict was a clear sign that her marriage was doomed to fail. Sara was in error by thinking that a happy marriage was synonymous with the absolute extinguishment of all conflict. So. Not. True.

Sara was wrong. Way wrong! And perhaps that’s because Sara and Ryan had limited conflict-management skills and sometimes even used The Four Horsemen. Gasp!

To Sara, and others like her, it’s time to realize this truth taught by Dr. Gottman: “It’s a myth that if you solve your problems you’ll automatically be happy. We need to teach couples that they’ll never solve most of their problems.”

Really? Sara and Ryan will never solve most of their problems? Yup, that’s right.

Thankfully, the key to a happy marriage isn’t to eliminate all conflict. Mind-blowing!

Dr. Gottman says, “Although we tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness, a lasting relationship results from a couple’s ability to manage the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship.”

Did you catch that? Being happy now and living happily ever after comes “from a couple’s ability to manage the conflicts that are INEVITABLE in any relationship.”

Conflict is inevitable – no matter who you marry. Please don’t fall for the fallacy that you wouldn’t be dealing with X conflict if you had married Bob, because Bob would have come with his own set of problems. You know it’s true.

Because of this, gaining the skills and developing the ability to successfully navigate conflict becomes critical in creating happiness and harmony in your marriage.

So, what are those specific skills that will lead to happiness now and to your “happily ever after” in the future?

Dr. Gottman has provided the following six skills to help couples learn how to manage conflict and live happily ever after:

1. Practice Physiological Self-Soothing

Take a timeout when conflict arises. Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, do whatever it takes to breathe, calm down, and return to a better frame of mind. How long is the perfect amount of time for a break? According to Dr. Gottman, it’s 20 minutes.

 

2. Use A Softened Startup

It’s true that conversations usually end on the same note they began, so start softly. Don’t blame. Use I-statements. Describe what is happening. And be polite.

The Gottman Institute
The Gottman Institute uses over 40 years of research on thousands of couples to provide research based tips on how to make love last. Our research has saved troubled relationships and strengthened happy ones. Get your free copy of 7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last by clicking hereWorkshot for Couples Professional Training Certificate Courses
- Advertisment -

Latest

Here are a few pieces of marriage advice on the 4 main critical skill areas you need for a successful partnership.
Men are complex. One day they may shower you with love, while the very next day they may seem withdrawn. So when your man...
During childhood, the emotional connect we develop with those around us has a major role to play of what we become in our adulthood.
Here are some of the most common signs of a legitimate haunted house and some steps to help you start dealing with living in one!

Editor's Pick

Thank you for always taking and never giving. For always asking for my love and understanding and yet never being emotionally available for me.
Look closely at the picture below. And decide what you saw first. Whatever you see will tell you a lot about your perception of life and who you are on the inside.
Age has nothing to do with being a man. Age is merely a number—actions define who he really is. But here’s the problem—most women spend their time trying to change boys into men.
A Libra longs for partnership, it is her heart’s forever-wish; but to love a Libra, you must love her completely.
- Advertisement -

Latest quotes

Let Me Tell You Something
The Biggest Rule in a Relationship