by Tara Pringle Jefferson
Isn’t it funny how it’s human nature to think our way is the only way and the best way to solve a problem? It’s incredible to me that I still, after a few years of marriage, have to take a second to pivot from, “Dude, I’m telling you, I know how to fix it,” to “Okay, how are WE going to solve this?”
I’ve read tons of books about compromise, “fighting fair,” and making sure problems get solved without causing dents in your marriage armor. But in my latest read, Dr. Gary Chapman’s Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, I’m coming away with even more practical tips on how to ensure conflicts don’t fester in my house.
Dr. Chapman gives three approaches to solving conflict – meeting in the middle, meeting on your spouse’s side, and meeting later.
Meeting in the middle
This is just what it sounds like: two people working together to make sure they each get what they want and walk away satisfied. It sounds so simple, but in reality we know it’s harder to put into practice. When we’re so focused on being heard and having our ideas and opinions validated, we miss the whole point of being in a relationship. As Dr. Chapman says, “There is always a solution to conflicts. Two individuals who choose to be friends will find that solution.”
Meeting on your spouse’s side
Here you have a problem, you both share your views, and after taking everything into consideration, you realize that one of you feels much more strongly about it than the other person. Therefore, you decide to follow their suggestion for ending the conflict. “You are choosing to do what they desire as an act of love because you care about them and you see how important it is to them,” Dr. Chapman writes.
This approach requires a certain level of maturity. Dr. Chapman suggests this one when you can’t seem to make headway on a certain issue. Rather than compromise in anger or too quickly, he recommends agreeing to “meet later,” which simply means to agree to disagree and commit to the fact that “this [conflict] will not be a disruptive factor in our marriage.” This one is the hardest for me, because I like having a conflict resolved and will be tempted to bring it up again, knowing good and well nothing has changed. This is the area I need to work on the most – “letting things go” until a more appropriate time.
What say you – which of these three approaches do you use most often?
Tara Pringle Jefferson is a freelance writer, blogger and PR professional living in Ohio with her husband and two kids. She’s managing editor of BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com. She’s also the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitteror check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.