What is marital conflict?

Marital conflict is not just a difference of opinion. Rather, it is a series of events that have been poorly handled so as to deeply damage the marriage relationship. Marriage issues have festered to the point that stubbornness, pride, anger, hurt and bitterness prevent effective marriage communication.

The root of almost all serious marital discord is selfishness on the part of one or both parties. Saving a marriage means rejecting selfishness, giving up pride, forgiving hurt and setting aside bitterness; these steps grow more difficult, so it’s best to avoid the downward spiral of marital conflict.

The best approach to making marriage work is to prevent marital conflict. Preparing for marriage is aided by pre-marital counseling. If this doesn’t take place, then marriage relationship counseling soon after the wedding can give couples basic marital conflict resolution strategies that can be used before marriage problems get out of hand.

Marriage is a relationship where trust is built over time as committed couples set aside their own interests for the good of their partner and develop skills for keeping the relationship positive and open.

What causes marital conflict?

As stated above, selfishness is the main cause of marriage conflicts. Another way of saying this is that marital issues occur when one party insists upon having his or her way. While everyone has personal preferences, demanding that one’s self-interest prevails is a choice that always affects the marriage. Can any partnership succeed when one party gets his or her way all the time? Of course not.

If the marriage relationship is to succeed, then giving up self-interest is something couples need to get used to. Eventually, sacrifice becomes a joy, not a chore.

But the answer is not to always give in and never have your way. The marriage relationship grows stronger as couples lovingly share and discuss their interests, always showing a willingness to sacrifice, but honestly working together to jointly own the best solution for the marriage.

How marital conflict affects marriage relationships

When husbands and wives are unable to navigate their disagreements, they fall into fairly predictable patterns of behavior, as suggested by the four stages of marital conflict. It’s important to recognize that all of these stages are dysfunctional. The stage of negotiating and compromising can appear to be positive, but it will fall apart without commitment and a mature understanding of the difficulties and distractions that must be overcome.

When marriage communication breaks down, feelings are hurt, emotions run high, and solutions seem out of reach. When marital conflict and children live in the same home, the damage is multiplied.