Last year, my husband and I went on a marriage cruise (kid-free). Not only was it the first time we’d ever been on a cruise but it was the first time we were away from home for so long to focus solely on our marriage. And, as the new BMWK Marriage Cruise is underway, I wanted to reflect on one of the most powerful sessions we experienced during the cruise.
One of the biggest takeaways shared were tips to reduce conflict in marriage. Although we rarely argue, this session helped us to see things we could be doing differently to resolve conflict the moment it arises. And looking back, these same strategies, fall right in line with having an argument-free marriage.
What we realized is that we needed to commit to taking time out like this once a year to focus solely on our marriage, goals, dreams for our family, and our future. And yes, we talk about these things often; but there was something really powerful about getting away from all of the distractions, and being surrounded with so many other happily married couples who were all there for the same goal: to strengthen and build upon our marriages.
We discussed the importance of always looking for ways to grow in our marriage because a great marriage is intentional. Part of growing in your marriage is to surround yourself with other positive couples. And while my husband and I walked into this marriage cruise with a great marriage, we walked away from it with an amazing one. For one week, we weren’t distracted with internet, phone calls or e-mails. We were truly able to just focus on us, and we dated every night like we were 18 and 19 again.
Regardless of what challenges you may have in your marriage, it all comes down to communication.
Whether it’s finances, different interests, holding on to “baggage”, etc, when you haven’t learned how to effectively communicate, that’s when small problems escalate into larger ones.
Understanding why you fight and your conflict styles are critical to being able to resolve them quickly and easily. Dr. Johnny & Lezlyn Parker shared with us three different animal conflict styles so we could identify which ones we were.
The Lion: this animal has a “Let’s get ready to rumble!” attitude/mentality. They are generally aggressive.
The Ostrich: This animal has an “I’m outta here!” mentality anytime things get heated. They tend to avoid conflict as much as possible.
The Porcupine: This animal has a “can you hear me now?” mentality. They are approachable – not too aggressive and they don’t run from conflict.
One thing they shared with us (which hubby and I constantly practice) is to use, regardless of which animal you are, the phrase: same team. So anytime you are in a heated argument or getting ready to “go there”, if either of you call out “same team,” it allows you to refocus on what is really important.
Yelling or fussing at each other is putting you on opposing teams. But if you remind each other that you’re on the same team, you can proceed with a calmer discussion and reduce the feeling of being attacked.
Here are 3 Easy & Effective Tips to Reduce Conflict in Marriage (that were shared during the cruise):
1. Tackle one issue at a time. There may be multiple issues that need to be addressed. But if need be, make sure you schedule enough time when you’re both free from distractions in order to acknowledge each issue. Try to come to some kind of agreement with one before moving on to the next.
2. Stay in the now. It’s so easy to bring up past hurts and pains especially if they remind you of the current situation. But that will only make matters worse. When you practice staying in the “now”, it helps to alleviate the tension.
3. Attack the problem, not the person. This goes back to the “same team” mantra. When you really understand that you’re on the same team it is much easier to figure out a solution to the problem at hand.
BMWK: What are some tips you have to eliminate or reduce conflict in your marriage?