The start of a relationship is usually filled with excitement. This is quite common with all things new. As you begin to get to know each other, you move beyond the initial butterfly feelings. Boundaries are pushed and tested and suddenly, you must deal with the unpleasant side of your loved one. Your first disagreement is only a matter of when not if. Disagreements and quarrels are a normal part of every healthy relationship, so yes you will disagree, quarrel, throw tantrums, nag, experience all the emotions in the emotion wheel (joy, tear, sadness, disappointment, anger) and even have days when you feel like throwing anything within reach at your loved one. Conflict and the emotions that you experience are normal and not the problem, what you do in a conflict situation is what matters.
Upfront, I will tell you that you can choose the right response no matter the situation; whether you take the high road is a topic for another day but embedded in you is the capacity to choose to do right by and for your marriage.
Through every conflict situation, your relationship develops a new level of resilience and insight. You get to learn something new about yourself and your loved one if you allow the process to work on you. Conflicts can be predictable and unpredictable; sometimes, you may see some coming and avoid or prevent them, but some just hit you without warning. All you remember is exchanging words and you are unable to trace the matter to the beginning. Having the right attitude enables you to navigate each day and its unique joys and troubles.
For free, we will offer you a list of seemingly trivia things that married people can quarrel about. We had our fair share of disagreements from making the bed to closing the toilet seat to pressing the toothpaste from the base or centre. The list goes on and on.
We love to share our bed-making story, we laugh about it now but back then, it was a pain point. So here we go again…..
I loved to make the bed every time I stand up from it, Idorenyin on the other hand belongs to a different school of thought. He reserved bed making for mornings only and rarely made the bed. I felt frustrated at how our room looked whenever he stood up from the bed and felt like I was going to be subjected to a lifetime of continuous bed making. After a season of upsets, we both agreed that making the bed should not constitute a nuisance for our marriage, so we bought large sheets that flip and tuck nicely under the mattress. The bed stayed neat throughout the day and over time, my husband became the chief bed maker because the mattress was too heavy for me to lift. Everyone laughs whenever we share our bedmaking experience, but at that time, it was a big deal for me because it was the first time I was having someone I could not wish away with a wand in my space.
Other pain points will emerge in your finances, relationship with your extended family, work, children e.t.c. Disagreements are like temptations, no conflict is unique to your marriage, whatever quarrel you will ever quarrel has been quarrelled before by another couple with two possible outcomes – Good or bad. Just like temptation, there is always a way out and your words, thoughts and actions will determine if your outcome is good or bad. You want to ensure that no matter the situation, you never pitch yourself against your spouse. It is never me against you, it is always an issue against our marriage. Framing conflict this way enables you to look at the issue and focuses your attention on dealing with the issue instead of on the person.
Don’t wait until conflict arises to discuss what constitutes acceptable behaviour in a conflict situation. Steady-state is a good time to have a conversation to agree on how to treat each other when faced with conflict. Discuss your turn off points and your triggers, let your spouse know what they can not say or do to you in a conflict situation. In our marriage, we agreed to the following dos and don’ts:
· No disrespectful gestures – hanging up the phone, walking out or banging the door
· No abusive word – all arguments must remain civil
· All quarrels must be resolved before bedtime
In retrospect, I can say these guidelines helped us to keep our disagreement contained and provided a basis for us to resolve issues timely.
We still have more to share but will let you soak in what we have said so far. Next week, we will continue where we left off, sharing some tips on what to do when conflict arises.
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